Table of Contents:
Pilgrim by Mary Tarantini• Daniel R. Jones
Piecemeal Peace • Jeffrey Wald
In the Holy Spirit • Phil Flott
The Moth • Gabriel Parker
Like Sparrows Satellite • Daniel Jones
Book Recommendation: The Pilgrim by Mary Tarantini
Mary Tarantini has become a mainstay here at Bez & Co. Her poetry leapt from the page since the first submission she sent my way. She writes in an unembellished but fervent manner that rings with conviction. Her verse has a decidedly intimate tone, but she still manages to appeal to a broad audience.
So it’s no surprise that others have started noticing her verse, too!
A collection of Mary’s poems is out now from Wipf & Stock.
In Pilgrim, Mary Tarantini showcases some of her most breathtaking and deftly crafted poetry. As the manuscript’s name implies, this is a collection of unadorned, simple poems, as accessible as they are profound. Still, the poems here hold the power to surprise the reader. Tarantini deftly crafts lilting, sonorous verse with a breathtaking prosody and unique word choice. This collection is a treat for the reader, as it is simultaneously gorgeous and sincere.
If you have enjoyed Mary’s poetry as much as I have…or especially if you haven’t yet had the chance to read her verse, check it out here!
-Daniel R. Jones
OK, I admit, I shouldn’t have cussed in front of the kids, especially on account of we were all dressed up and just about headed out the door for Mass. But come on, hear me out.
There I was, sitting on the john, taking a, well, you get the picture, reading a little Gerard Manley Hopkins, that line “piecemeal peace is poor peace” from his poem “Piece” really striking me, because it was exactly how I felt at that particular juncture, on account of having had three drinks the night before, and too much puppy chow, the combination of which always gives me a tremendous gut ache and puts me in a terrible mood the next day. And if that wasn’t enough, breakfast had been horrendous, not so much the food, I having avoided the food on account of the gut ache. But the company, eight screaming children, being less than pleasant for a Sunday morning, and Sunday being the Source and Summit of the week, so it is said, although I wonder sometimes if that is more of a metaphor, like Hopkins’ “skylark scanted in a dull cage,” rather than a statement of reality. Whatever the case, I had escaped to the upstairs bathroom for some much-needed relief, gastrointestinal as well as psychological. And sure, I probably spent a couple more minutes on the john than was absolutely necessary, but remember I was reading Hopkins, not a Playboy or even GQ, which I am informed many men my age take to the john with them. And consider too that I’d just cooked 49 pancakes, and cleaned up three OJ spills, and broken up four fist fights, and cleaned two poop diapers from the same kid, that child having evidently gotten into the puppy chow as well the night before, and then picked up 58 stray Lego pieces (I counted them all, on account of having stepped on one, a Luke Skywalker holding a lightsaber, that cut my foot making me bleed on the newly installed light blue carpet, which, I might add, I was never in favor of in the first place, but we’re not here to keep score, right?) So I might be forgiven for wanting a moment of peace on the john, even piecemeal peace, which of course I did not find, on account of the gastrointestinal issues joining me in the john, but even more so, a full five children likewise joining me, each taking a turn barging in to grab some necessary item, like a book, or a doll, or a board game, which left me thinking why are books, and dolls, and board games being stored in the bathroom in the first place? And here’s the real gem of it all. Each kid loudly proclaimed upon entering the bathroom “Ewww, dad, why don’t you ever lock the door?” To which I wanted to reply, “Why don’t you ever knock?” But I decided not to waste my breath, instead pointing to the missing doorknob, it having been busted off by yours truly when the 2-year-old locked himself in the bathroom and proceeded to flush diapers down the toilet, his parents (myself included), not noticing (or, perhaps gladdened by) his absence from the dinner table until toilet water began dripping from the ceiling onto the dinner ham, on account of the marvels of modern absorption technology, even though said flushed diapers were the cheap Costco brand, not Pampers, the Mustang of diapers, which tells you how far modern absorption technology really has come. In any event, please be proud of me for keeping my inner cool after the first four darlings came in. But then, admittedly, I lost it when the last one entered, but again have mercy, because it was Johnny, and Johnny and I had been butting heads all week and I’m pretty sure he busted in not because he needed anything but just out of spite. And then I yelled “Leave me alone. Get out. Everyone downstairs,” which perhaps was not fair to my wife, she being downstairs and, likely, herself trying to hide from the kids. Which probably she was, because about one minute later she yelled up, “Joe, you’re sitting on the toilet reading Hopkins and hiding from the kids again, aren’t you?” Which made me think, does she really expect me to take two or three of them into the john with me? But then I remembered that this is exactly what she was required to do when she had to use the john, on account of the serious separation anxiety three of our kids have. So I didn’t have much ammunition on that front, but was still boiling mad, not even having finished one Hopkins’ poem. I finished up, and walked downstairs, but when I got to the kitchen I stepped on another Lego, this time Darth Vader who was much sharper than Luke Skywalker, and I flipped a lid then, yelling “Can’t a dude take a shit in peace around here?” And the older kids’ eyes all got big as they looked at one another and tried to hide little smiles but my wife, she was not stifling any smile at all, so I tried to recover by saying, “Everyone, to the van, let’s go, we’re late for Mass!”
We all got into the van, a big, brown, 15-passenger Ford E-350, and I turned around and glared at the kids, saying something like “Nobody better say a word. We’re taking quiet time. Prepare your hearts for Mass.” And I put that monster into reverse and pushed down on the gas and, I’ll admit, sort of gunned it a bit, which is embarrassing, considering it was a brown 15-passenger 12-year-old van, and not a Mustang or even a Honda Accord. We cruised backyard down the driveway and at the end I sort of twisted the wheel quickly to turn onto the street when we all suddenly heard a tremendous banging sound, on account of the trash and recycling bins still being on the side of the curb even though the garbage guys came on Tuesday and it was now Sunday but I’ve got a lot on my plate, including picking up Legos and making massive batches of pancakes and I hadn’t even had 10 minutes for Hopkins all week so maybe I can be cut just a little bit of slack? But as soon as I crushed those bins, Dominic, my three-year-old, who’s a funny little bugger if ever there was one, loudly exclaimed “Holy shit!” All of us went dead silent then, including Dominic, who looked around shifty eyed, wondering what kind of shit he might be in now. But then I couldn’t help but bust a gut laughing, and my wife started laughing too, and soon everyone in that van was laughing. And then we drove to Mass.
Only thing was, Dominic had discovered what he now considered to be the funniest damn expression there is, which is perhaps fine when you’re traveling in a big, brown 15-passenger van with a bunch of nitwits and bad parents, but perhaps not so fine during the elevation of the most Holy and Sacred Body and Blood of Christ during the most Holy and Sacred Sacrifice of the Mass, the very Source and Summit of our Life. I suppose I could chalk it up to “just being one of those days,” if in fact this didn’t feel like every single one of my days. But then again, at least I don’t have hemorrhoids like my man Hopkins, right? Although my wife often reminds me, cruelly I think, that soon I will if I continue to sit on the john for 30 minutes at a time hiding from the kids and reading Hopkins.
Jeffrey Wald writes from here and there, but will always consider himself a North Dakota writer. His stories have appeared in publications such as The Windhover, Plainsong, Aethlon, Oakwood, and Collidescope.
In the Holy Spirit
It wasn’t a computer chip under the skin
Something small slit all my molecules,
pervaded the depths of my plasma.
I wonder-full-y wanted to wish well
to all my brothers and sisters,
us daughters and sons of him.
So my new nature –
with deeps in me,
from which rose
warm electric streams
of tall sugar cane
with which I washed
the blue air of this world.
Such the first night,
the second week,
we are in a month,
I love this past year…
Phil Flott is a retired Catholic Priest, due to action of the Holy Spirit in his life. The last two years he has been very active with poetry. He feels it is a ministry to the Body of Christ.
You wander upon a boy setting the simplest of all things upon the dirt, overturned,
A glass: one that must have held water to quench sweat poured out
Upon dust and upon great blades of grass that now strike like fireworks
Shooting into a magnanimous sky, and one that would, must!
hold the substance of that transient liquid between us and another world
but now it holds the merest whisper of the darkness upon two little wings
like two kisses for each cheek and you see in it, in that creeping moth
the tiniest corpuscle of the light, like a seed and you wonder if you can see anything at all
Then you wonder first, how such a beast,
such a hoary beast to be plucked from the cloak of Age himself
ever would find its way into the light of a day
that breaks itself across your back like a board and you
are here only to feel the splintering
And it is a hard rain as it splinters
Soaking, flooding, drowning the glass before your eyes
and yet you breathe it in with your irises and
taste the color upon the painting of your soul
and the boy like the memory of a song long forgotten
yet heard as a breeze twines its way through the dead trees of a dead winter
You wonder if the moth knows that it drinks its life away
edging ever so slowly back into its abode
like a troll that grasps at the mouth of its cave running,
running, running from the coming sun while a speck
inside its chest burns like a cinder to be caught out in the
yet when it arrives it comes not as the conquering king
but in chains, rags, the passing glimmer
of a dying man like a mote through the rooms
he used to touch and the bits
he used to feel and the life
he used to have
You wonder if it can see its likeness in its starry cage
Or if the clime it has is all that it can view and
In the light of even Polaris herself, arrayed
In all the passing seasons is a fog
of the mind of the body and
she seduces you away from the skull upon your back
Does he know? Could he guess that you could
with all the godlikeness of the mathematician
calculate the breaths he had left? Or will the pin
come as a surprise to him, as he hangs
as he hangs
Gabriel Parker is an undergraduate at Oklahoma State University majoring in Creative Writing. He has had fiction published by the Underscore Review, FoxPaw Literary, Ripples in Space, and in an anthology by Grey Wolfe Publishing. He can usually be found deep in the bowels of the campus library holding back piles of books with one hand and typing away with the other. You can find him on Instagram @gabrielparkerauthor or online at gparkerauthor.wordpress.com.
Like Sparrows Satellite
Like sparrows satellite
a bird of prey,
all beak and fervor
and filoplune feathers;
It’s coming on again.
Snatches of poems
yet to be written
buzz about my head like gnats.
Tulip poplar buds reach through
shadowbox slats of cedar fence.
I knew the 3 pound grey mass between my
ears would try to find meaning there.
Leave me alone, you middle-weight
poet brain. You journeyman guru.
I didn’t ask for story or song,
I’m just out for a walk.
I don’t want these twisted tendrils
prying an embellished metaphor
for an already saturated market.
I want Beginner’s Mind:
An ordinary stroll
devoid of association
and mining my mind
for something faux-profound.
With all the Impostor
Syndrome of Saint Peter,
I almost prayed it:
Go away from me, Lord.
But this poem is proof positive
I’m your obsequious sycophant.
Make me one of your monkeys,
your infinite monkeys, pounding away
on a typewriter, fresh ribbon
and 20 pound copy paper at the ready,
that I might, by some happy accident,
produce the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
I have so little to do with it, after all.
-Daniel R. Jones