The Giant in the High-Rise – a story by Wayne-Daniel Berard

The Giant in the High-Rise

The building stretched twenty, maybe twenty-five stories into the thin, cold sky. Frost patterns that were the few clouds pressed upon the pane of the day stilled the atmosphere over sea and city, equally unmoved. Winter.

Anak stood, extremely tall but with a bit of a shoulder slouch, in the very center of the high-rise, in the very center of town. Under ordinary conditions, great, knotted arms would have by now plowed through partitions and security doors; knees thick with hair like hedge bracken would have lifted and crashed dully, clumsily through plate glass vistas, while bare feet, callused and hard as wrecking-balls, would be putting an end to all foundations.

But these were not ordinary conditions, and Anak was no ordinary giant. He was a magical giant. In fact, he was Time.

Being magical, the giant in the high-rise could pass his oh-so solid body right through stages and conditions of matter, like Casper playing for laughs. But he didn’t laugh. Like almost all giants, in fairy tale or midrash or saga, Anak was quite slow-witted, quite unaware.

Like those of his cousin Atlas, so easily out-foxed by Hercules (himself no Mensa member), Anak’s long, challah arms reached high over his thick head. Always. Hands, forearms, elbows and upper arms passed without disturbance through floor & ceiling, ceiling & floor above and beyond his sight, into that neighborhood of the high-rise which he dimly called “Yet.” Up on the roof, a homeless person had been camping out, unbeknownst to all but the custodian, a righteous man. He was gone now, but had left a transistor radio, a pack of playing cards, a few odds and ends. Far, far below, in the basement, in that nether region Anak knew as “Ago,” the righteous custodian kept a hot plate in the storage quarters, although the rules forbad it. Around it, unmatched luggage, an assortment of moldering wedding gifts, soccer balls and kites whose owners had long since moved away, old TV’s, and exercise machines fulfilling their purpose in guilty half-forgetfulness — all these splayed around Anak’s huge, unshod feet and toes. And dust.

The giant’s vision was limited to one floor at eye-level, which he ingeniously called “It.” It was a typical set of apartments, with rugs and kitchenettes, furniture and lives in various stages of emergence from the sterility of rent, gradually warming themselves, ripening toward departure and property. This was all Anak could see; this was It, and for all he knew, all there was. Glimpses out of high windows, themselves often reflections in other high windows and they in others, sometimes showed slices of sea on one side of the building, of mountains on the other, like slivers of moon caught in the many lenses of a telescope, caught and lessened.

Anak would look on, ponder in his own ponderous fashion, and live. Often, from the ceilings and roof above, music would seem to drift down as from an unseen, yet glorious heaven. He would hear it and love it, and wonder where it came from, unable to see anything but the story directly before his eyes. He thought perhaps the music to be intimations of his own future; a precursor of good luck or love . . . Out of his sight, his own great hands, flopping about on their wrists, would pick up the playing cards on the roof, aimlessly shuffle them, pick one, do a bit of a trick or begin a game of solitaire. Black queen on red king — my God, how had he known that? How had he known that this one would yet fall for that one and she for him, although she was dark and somber and he sanguine and incisive? Had he dreamt it? Why could he sometimes finish others’ thoughts, suddenly see who would next cross a room and say this or that, or sigh and say nothing? Pick a card, any card . . .

From the deep reaches below, smells and sounds and sensations would also rise to Anak’s level of perception. He didn’t know it, but his own feet were right then playing with a soccer ball stored away in the basement. Back and forth from foot to foot, toe to instep to heel, the ball would dance. Abruptly, the giant would be back in his own childhood, filled with nostalgia, overwhelmed by the nearness of that which he thought had died long ago.

And the scents of meals cooking on the custodian’s hot plate, the smell of a splatter of hot grease smothering in the dust of the cellar — what was stirring down there? Had he missed something in the deep recesses? Something burning but delicious was calling him, almost driving him mad, but he could not see it. Was some issue he had not yet resolved on the burner now? Did giants have mid-life?

Through reflections of reflections in the skyline, Anak could just make out the curved lids of pot-bellied mountains between his city and the Great City. Where the air had once dipped deepest in the sky-forks between them, a good, new road had been cut through, and sky, for the first time since Creation, could there touch level ground. Or concrete, at least. It was snowing on the mountaintops.

The dull giant that was Time turned his limited attention once more to his narrow field of vision, the rooms and furniture and windows. Never had he moved from this position, arms way above him, feet far below — didn’t know he was in anything called ‘a position,’ didn’t understand that his own life, all of one piece, rose and fell across the entire high-rise at every moment, one moment.

Soon he would sleep. In his dream, he would stride, slowly, deliberately, in one long constant step, crossing and bounding the entire good road between the mountains, one foot still here, the other already there, the snow sticking to his thick eyebrows. Down below, thousands upon thousands of tiny Anaks — old ones, young ones, married and single, affluent, struggling and homeless, the just born and dying, joyous, uncaring, and enraged — all were scurrying, heatedly, ceaselessly back and forth beneath his arched legs on that same road, up and down it, between the Great City and the always unmoved sea.

Wayne-Daniel Berard teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. Wayne-Daniel is a Peace Chaplain, an interfaith clergy person, and a member of B’nai Or of Boston. He has published widely in both poetry and prose, and is the co-founding editor of Soul-Lit, an online journal of spiritual poetry. His latest chapbook is Christine Day, Love Poems. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine

from ‘god is waiting in the world’s yard’ – paired poems by MTC Cronin

THE WORLD’S YARD

 

Right at the back of the world’s yard I am sitting. Many things appear to be dust and reasons for death are many but on this day I see only one bird in the sky, the father and the daughter out walking – she follows his steps as if they are her own small shadows, tender feet falling, arousing the earth. All around them time does its business yet still I would ask, What is so important about now? Why do we not sense the earth’s movement?

WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS IN THERE MADE OF?

 

Planets? C’s? Paperbags? They are certainly not photographs or fleas. The two most stupid people in the world have come to help us work it out. They say they’re not a deathhole or keys. We settle on specks. But what are the specks made of? Diadochi? Pogroms? Increased poems speaking with the tongues of the saddest animals? The stupid people don’t stay. They must attend a conference on an argument that has already been disposed of. What do you think the things in the specks are made of? We would like an answer that satisfies the conditions under which nothing holds true.

 

MTC Cronin has published twenty books (poetry, prose poems and essays). Recent collections include in possession of loss (Shearsman Books, 2014) and The Law of Poetry (Puncher & Wattmann, 2015), the latter of which was written over two decades. Contact: emptyseacronin@gmail.com.

Splitting the Gorge – a poem by Rose Flint

Splitting the Gorge

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 11.05.14

Rose Flint has worked as a creative writing tutor and was for 10 years Writer in Residence at Salisbury District Hospital, working in all areas of healthcare. She has five collections, including A Prism for the Sun (Oversteps). Awards include the Cardiff Poetry Prize and the Petra Kenney International Prize.

Lemniscate – a poem by Jehanne Mehta

Lemniscate

(the Hanged Man)

You are upending.
Wisdom streams upwards
from below.

You are sole to soul now
with the Earth,
dazzled by her deep Light.

Inversion point.
The crossing at your sun centre
is activated:

total polar reverse…
shock waves racing, galaxy wide…

you are hanging into the sky now,

from one foot.

Everywhere,
everywhere,
you see stars
shining,
shining,
shining out
from the hearts of friends.

Love is the shift key.

Love is the shift.

 

Jehanne Mehta is a singer–songwriter and poet, focussing especially on our connection with Nature and the Earth and also on our own inner changes and evolution. With her group ‘Earthwards’ she has recorded several CDs and has five published collections of poems. Jehanne Mehta.com

The Book of Baa and The Book of Haze – poems by Katie Manning

The Book of Baa

all that remains of Habakkuk

Lord
I have heard
you
repeat
Lord
like the sunrise
Lord
you
lift
sun and moon

with
my
own ear
you pierce
my
head

when
you trample
the sea with your
lips
my bones
tremble

yet I will wait patiently
as
the fig tree
Lord

Lord
like the feet of a
sheep

The Book of Haze

all that remains of Zephaniah

morning by morning
shoulder to shoulder
oppressors
will
consume
but
you
will not be found in their mouths

do not trust
roaring lions
evening wolves
or
people

obey
no one

do not let your hands hang
your God

Katie Manning is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Whale Road Review and an Associate Professor of Writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and four chapbooks, including The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman. Her poems have appeared in Fairy Tale Review, New Letters, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, and many journals and anthologies. Find her online at www.katiemanningpoet.com.

‘These poems are from a project-in-process that uses the last chapter of each book of the Bible as a word bank. I began this project in protest–I was tired of people taking language from the Bible out of context and using it against others as a weapon–but as I continued I realized that this process of creating poems also resembles the practice of Lectio Divina, divine reading’

 

Walking into the Next Room – a story by Russ Bickerstaff

Walking Into the Next Room

It was one of those moments where you walk into a room and do you forget why you went there. Clearly you’d forgotten something but you don’t remember what it was. That’s what it was for me. At that moment. Walking into that room. Not really certain why it was that I was walking into that room. And knowing that I’d forgotten something. And it was something that was really important. But I couldn’t remember what it was. Because I couldn’t remember why wanted to the room presumably.

But maybe there was more to it than that. I didn’t know exactly what it was. I had no idea exactly what it could be. As near as I can make out of it must not of been very important as it was the case that I had rather casually forgotten that. And I knew that really important things weren’t likely to be forgotten just at the entrance for room or anything like that. So I figured I was probably pretty much OK with the whole situation. One moment I was in one room and the next moment I was in the next room. And I just Jordan forgotten how I got in to be there. And there was something kind of big about that assessment that seem to be prominently wrong. But I couldn’t seem to remember exactly what it was.

I took a mental inventory of everything that I’ve done. And everything that I was doing. And everything that was going on my life. And there seem to be a major discrepancy between what I remember and what was actually going on. I felt as though there is something really basic that I was missing but I couldn’t remember what it was. It started to seem like maybe it wasn’t really even any of my business what it was. But I knew I was missing something fairly major. And I couldn’t figure out what it was. Add all of this needless and senseless repetition just kept going through my skull.

And I knew that I wasn’t really getting anywhere. Clearly I had forgotten something. But I couldn’t remember what it was. And it was a bit of a distraction. It was a bit of a distortion. actually I just sort of hit me as I walked out of the room to go back to wherever it was that I had been. I had walked from the room that I found myself into the other room and then back again when it occurred to me what I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten about the past 10 years. Or sell. I had casually forgotten about the past 10 years. And I was sort of scrambling to try to figure out what was going on as I was sort of losing my balance. I mean, there I was in one room and there he was in the other room. And that I have lost ten years of past. Then that I just sort of forgotten about. Casually. On my way from one room to the next. And I knew it was not exactly healthy to have casually miss placed the 10 years like that.

But I knew that I was onto something. And there was a kind of a satisfaction and haven’t been able to figure it out in the first place. I mean, you lose something that big and it’s really easy to forget. I mean I know the logic there doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. But it stands to reason that if you lose something as big as 10 years that your mind is going to find a way to compensate. Just for the sake of your own sanity. I mean, they are you are completely absent from a whole decade of your own life. Are you going to go crazy if you fully acknowledge it.

So maybe it’s just so big it’s like the elephant in the room or whatever. You didn’t know it was there because it clearly was way too big to be fully acknowledge it. Just sort of deal with it and move on. The way people move on from the size of the universe for the fact that we have enough nuclear weapons to completely wipe out all the life on the planet or that were in the middle of the biggest extinction in the history of the world or whatever. Are used to serve except those are the things and move on because you don’t really have anything else to do.

But there was the whole issue that I was still not entirely dealing with. The whole issue of whether or not I really should be concerned about having lost 10 years of my life from one room to the next. Clearly something it happened and it was probably going to happen again and if it did I would be like 20 years older than I was when I got up from the couch just now. And that’s not something anyone has to deal with. Or want to have to deal with.

And so maybe if I just walk back towards it’ll be 10 years ago. That’s kind of what I’m figuring. I know the logic doesn’t make a whole lot of sense they are. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that it would take you 10 years to move from one room to the next anyway so I figure is long as nothing is making sense I might as will just walk backwards through the last 10 years that I missed. And it really feels like I’m sitting there like the 10 years didn’t happen. I figure it probably is the case that the 10 years didn’t happen. And I’m looking at the watch and I’m looking at the date then I’m figuring that’s probably the case although I’m so confused right now it’s so hard to tell.

At the very least, I’m comfortable. I feel perfectly healthy. And I don’t feel 10 or even 20 years older. So I guess I’ve got that much going on. However, I really have to pay closer attention. This sort of thing can happen out of nowhere. That’s what they tell me.

Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. His short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Theme of Absence. 

Two Gods – poems by Tim Miller

Two Gods

I. Esus with an Axe

As if he were winter itself
Esus goes at the willow tree,
goes to prune it back for a time,

promising a spring without blades.
And as if they were winter itself,
the egrets in the willow tree

consider how the cold must come,
consider where all souls must go,
and surrender the willow to fly.

And as if it were winter itself
the marsh beside the willow tree
cools and freezes and hides beneath ice,

beneath the cracking axe of Esus,
beneath the iron sun, iron clouds,
beside the low willow in winter.

II. Sucellus: The Wine God

Every now and then, why not, give your time
to the drunk old man – the hammer he holds
struck winter out of the earth after all,
and gave us the grapes that got him all groggy,
the barrel overflowing and the jar
overturned, the amphorae running over.
He’s not the most graceful god, not in spring,
but remember that his hammer is thunder,
that his hammer is the reliable wheel
and his body is covered in the serious
signs that the dark of deep winter were made for –
so join him while his hammer is on the ground
and while, stumbling, he gives a smile over at you.

 

Tim Miller writes about religion, history and poetry at www.wordandsilence.com. These poems are from a larger collection on (mostly spiritual) life in prehistoric Europe, the entirety of which will appear later this year from The High Window Press. Other poems from this collection have appeared in Crannog, Londongrip, The High Window, Poethead, Cider Press Review, Cumberland River Review, Isacoustic, The Big Windows Review, The Basil O’Flaherty, Albatross, The Journal (Wales), and others.

Relic – a poem by Paul Bregazzi

Relic

As to relics:
there are three orders of magnitude:

for the first the saint is dug
from his years of rest,
a ghost bone taken,
shattered lovingly
with hammer blows
and the infinite particulate, packaged.

Then the second order:
something touched by him,
perhaps a scrap of clothing,
that he slept or ate in,
with the smell of him still
in its arid weave,
echoing his rigid sainthood.

Last but not lost:
new cloth must drape his cere limbs
then that be taken, scissored
and each microchip of bone white linen
sieve him through it.

He is gone and continues.

Paul Bregazzi’s poetry has appeared widely in print and on-line in Ireland, the U.K., France, Mexico and the U.S. His work has been shortlisted and awarded in numerous competitions in Europe and the U.S., including the Bridport Prize. He was Cuirt New Writer of the Year 2017.

Art – a poem by Diana Durham

Art

If you find that luminous blue bubble
whose irregular roundness can wobble
and squeeze between things yet still hold its shape
it will roll over your affairs and escape
like an eye, a fluid lens, a droplet
that magnifies with no fixed comment yet
on its curved distorted focus. It must
be made well, constructed out of itself
in such a way that it has no edges
no unravelling seams but is endless
and flares up translucent like a blue flame
answering with the wholeness of its name.

 

Diana Durham is the author of three poetry collections: Sea of Glass (Diamond Press); To the End of the Night (Northwoods Press) Between Two Worlds (Chrysalis Poetry); the nonfiction The Return of King Arthur (Tarcher/Penguin); a debut novel The Curve of the Land (Skylight Press); and a dramatic retelling of grail myth Perceval & the Grail: Perceval & the Grail Part 1 Morgana’s Retelling – YouTube

 

Acts of Faith – a poem by Tony Lucas

Acts of Faith

 
Morning sunlight slants
through tall trees catches
a single filament adrift
– spotlights the tiny spider
floating at its end.

She has cast off from some
high branch, sailing on
the variable breeze
patient of chance, apt
for the undetermined landing.

Stories relate how scholars,
saints, would once put out
to sea in flimsy coracles
trusting their landfall
to the grace of providence

– which would reveal some place
where they were meant to be.

Tony Lucas lives in London, south of the river. Stride published some of his early work, and he was a regular contributor to Ambit for a good number of years, among other magazines.  His latest collection, Unsettled Accounts, was published by Stairwell Books, two years ago.