on the early train from powell street lured into the underground disorder where shadows exist and call to you your name who walks these narrow platforms sunday morning songs of ghosts tunnels of underground dank the voices recessed besieged inside the ruddy carnage last century’s stuccoed walls palms over ears to deafen the lost swaddled in the clot of some stained past a baby cries across the aisle saddled to her mother’s breast her insurrection coming like the drift’s forecast of weather like this train too many stops destination unhinged voices bellow in the old accordion painting the tunnel walls in torment
young man lithe like wet glue enters the hole clutches his skateboard to his lap takes a wrench from his pocket tightens the trucks his tee shirt text too faded to read his eyes are less of the crimson columbine and more of a goat
the floors are streaked striated by suitcase rollers the tedium of the city early morning stench shadow less woman in front seat twitches every few seconds she is communicating with the not here
broken man paces fractured lines shadows his tongue too big for his mouth fluorescent lights blink on off and on he wears his fist curled pink skinned swollen and pocked the fist of the weathered a visionary living in the temple of pus his fingers cannot open to receive god or a bowl of soup
over there the upright man an obelisk dark sunglasses skin of earth and buttercups stares he thinks he is invisible a silent vowel i allow him to see me see him a hard consonant he is uncomfortable posture stutters exposed we are mice inside these walls
bicycle man pushes on the stock black fender checking for flexibility or sturdiness or just to make sure his life won’t dangle over potholes his destination he offers me nothing a fallen leaf caresses the thin hard leather seat next stop is his get off
a vietnamese family on the cracked vinyl bench says in a language of letters i do not know we left the flowers in the vase forgotten and the water will become rancid tighter they hold their luggage daughter dissolves into the map on the wall this missile follows flight trajectory
a jangled face emerges in the smear of steaming breath an apparition of a thousand faces jeers then distorts the doors pull open a leg enters a twisted hand clutching a rag on a woolen stick upright man watches the aisle a girl near the exit carries a sagging rose from her bad dream the only flower speeding toward the emptiness of this seventh day
remember the pigeons there were three and they cooed fortunes below on the glitter sidewalks of spit and dog shit and globs of mucus a cathedral a man yells to the barricade of sky all night long he asked for things i could not understand he sang the wretched coming of days he cried the black forest until the garbage trucks overpowered his verse at 4:47 AM on Mason near Ellis
thirteen people sit three balance on feet everyone in a season nothing exotic occurs or grows or dies but weaves through the loom of eternal storm water gray its timbre toneless the engineer barks through cracked speakers preaching the wrath or the next stop or something about the train the jugglers of melons are long gone braided bread sac floor mats left behind for the next renter
a heathenous wave the ghost hits the train hard on the curve heaves itself present scythed from silence entombed the train is off kilter accelerating careening into the deafening footprint rattles the cage of its incantatory howl
Sarah Borruto is the author of the chapbook Damselin Dystopia (Alien Buddha Press, 2022) and has been published in The Luna Collective, Train River Poetry’s Winter 2020 Anthology, Brave Voices Magazine, Suffolk County Poetry Review, and Long Island Quarterly.
Mimi German is a poet and subversive artist dividing her time between life in the wilderness of Oregon’s Steens Mt. and the urban strife of Portland, OR. Her first book, Beneath the Gravel Weight of Stars, was released in 2022 weaving her experiences as an advocate for unhoused Portlanders through poetry. Her poetry can be found in publications in the UK and USA and in the archives of the Portland City Council circa 2017-2021.
"Stunned and honored deeply to be receiving the State of Oregon Beat Poet Laureate award from the National Beat Poetry Foundation. Thank you Deborah Tosun Kilday and to all who
are a wonderful part of this fabulous foundation keeping the Beat alive and well into the 21 century."
Here, in the wilds of the beating heart, the scent of life rises from
earth's core to surf these grazing winds. Raven and coyote, rabbit and
deer, owl and quail, vulture and eagle, snake and mouse, tree and
root, rock and water, all sing the song of life. When we welcome the
quiet, we can remember that we are one with all of our relations. In
that moment of remembering, a cosmic breath occurs. Breathe it in,
for this is when we become truly alive.
The desert calls. Portland recedes into a rocky bank of memories and shards of broken glass.
It's time to live. Full throttle. With beauty. With love for the land.
Heart beats to the drum and thrum to restore the land to her giving grasses.
To lean against the spirit banks of the Pueblos that become the dreamscape of now and ever was.
To go deeper into the West into the wilds to hear the western ghost songs
sung in the winds up the long narrows into the vast expanse of wilderness.
The endless sky. To drink the holy waters that spring from the heart of this earth.
To come as the desert says, come to me, wild child, where the sky holds the sun on its holy alter.
Where rain is scant but also holy.
Holy holy holy. My arms rise up to the stars to touch the alter. To a heaven if ever there was one.
These desert days and hours, sunrises and moonsets, clouds and and visions becoming the poems of the Living.
The unfathomable holiness of this desert land. My heart beats with life. To laze with the morning deer.
Hoot with the owls. Sing with Coyote. Sing! This desert song.
By Mimi German
Barking At Crows
was looking for a trumpet player to blow the muted notes of a poem found a dog
barking at crows instead and a forest of ponderosa pines and a few roundabouts
that went round and round dusty air pierces the breath two old indians sit in
the burned out gas station sucking down the heat across the street the river flows
a wild song it’s too hot for the birds john deere bales row after row of misery
beneath the house on the hill that stalks to the desert sail the trailers a rusted
red fender feathers the narrows between road and crooked horizon and all the
land is for sale the road curves like love horses eat at the trough unbridled
and lazy the foraging heat splinters like a dry fence post a hay bale of hell if you
don’t like how the willows weep
pocked like teenage skin the streets are tired creped and worn beneath the color of sky is grey
is grey is grey is grey graffiti on old holman’s funeral home is painted over with the words no one’s home
i know this street it lines the broken chunks of alleyways that lead to the gossamer weeds near the heart
sap gasps through a portal a branch heaves then breaks the rumble of pallets hull in the chipper
an aria of morning joseph tells me he’s going to jump the bridge today like every other day
the wheels on his cart catch the sidewalk hitch the cloistered sun lurches the bow hustling toward the sea
Mimi German is a poet and poetry activist who can be found advocating for unhoused people on the streets, reading her poetry as City Council
testimony, or at times, in the wilderness of Oregon near Steens Mountain. Her first chapbook of poetry, Beneath the Gravel Weight of Stars,
based on her life working with houseless people, came out on March 15, 2022.
Well, my books have arrived. And...
I received a review by my sister, Heather Mattioli who has over the years, understood my poetry better than I ever have. I used to call her to ask questions
about what I've written and she would respond in ways I never could have imagined.
And she was always right. My love to you, Heather. My deepest love and gratitude.
Please enjoy her review of Beneath the Gravel Weight of Stars.
"I hope you are prepared for the journey you are about to embark on in this
collection of poetry, Beneath the Gravel Weight of Stars, from Mimi German.
Her poetry demands a certain wanderlust from the reader as she takes you by
your hand, ears, eyes, and mind as you touch some of the souls she has so
carefully brought to your world.
The journey begins with the first poem in this collection titled, 'The crossing.'
we brought along the street to experience the anonymity of the first soul trekking
namelessly through St. John's in the wet, desolate streets of Portland and we glimpse,
ever so briefly' as nature and abandonment intersect.
Once we move through this collection, we begin to notice that Mimi has placed
the reader in the poems too. In, 'The Other Side of the Coffee Shop Window,' the title
has already pointed out the 'otherness' that the writer requires you to notice and understand.
The imagery that is employed in this poem places the reader in the position of observer and
the observed. Looking out the window, 'lyrids stroke a paper fire' and the reader is left wondering
and knowing that the stars in the sky, 'the turn aways' and the 'crash of cosmic degrees' are
incorporated into all of us through nature.
Admittedly, it may be tempting to assume that this collection is only concerned with nature or
houselessness and that would be a fine assumption but then we would be missing the whole picture.
Mimi doesn't stop here though, this collection shines as she peels back the layers the meaning for a
glimpse of our world as it truly appears. For example, in 'To Beggar' the opening line sets the tone for the poem,
'blueberries fall like dislodged stars' and we eat up the words that are dropped from Mimi's pen.
The person in this poem is houseless, gathering what they need, all the while being ignored and then
we are reminded that the beggar is nature and that is where Mimi's poetic genius comes into play.
This collection's last poem, 'He,' incorporates everything Mimi's poetry encompasses. The first line begins with,
'the fray floats the ground like an unhoused child,' and the ethereal blur of where nature, poetry, and the political merge.
Make no mistake, Mimi German is a master of language and nature poetry but her absolute magic shines through when
we glimpse at her political philosophy. She has taken her time and talent to write down the connection between three of
the most important aspects of our world through this work. And now we hear, 'somewhere a broken violin slurs,'
but it sounds like the stars and poetry."
The Flight of Arrows
---from Erotica and Longing During The Plague
i was born under the sign of the broken
arrows so far from wilderness that even
the word wilderness was long
removed from the lexicon of mice living
in little row houses on little streets
in my first days and months ensnared
on earth born outside of center and even
outside and beyond the edge
so far so that stars were
blankets and the daily hum
the night’s mare dangling my hair
beneath its cantering hooves
where was the scented snow-covered
fox, the trail beyond the bend
of grasses leading to the frozen
lake-filled mirrors of the sun
i was my own accomplice
in solitude and longing
touching the wings that span
the space, the sound
of the tock tock tocking
the arching metronome of day
that became the dark swan
of the late hours
i pull back the taught and tethered
string to break the quivering of the bow
the shroud of breath unwavering just
enough to pierce the heart
Poetry update. First, I'm loving this process. I've revised and re-ordered the poems
in the Collection more times than I can remember with the incredible help of my editor, Resa Alboher. My teacher, David, has the entire manuscript now and will be getting back to
me with notes and ideas on publishers to send to...