Introduction to Abyss & Apex Poetry, Issue 65

Introduction to Abyss & Apex Poetry, Issue 65

Season’s Greetings to you all! To begin with, I want to honor all the Abyss & Apex poets of 2017, but in particular, these four Pushcart nominees (in order of poem’s appearance). Good luck to you all (the two fiction nominees are not shown here):

“Poisoned Apple” (April 2017, Issue 62) by Ann Thornfield-Long

“A Darker Heaven”  (April 2017, Issue 62)   by Jennifer Crow

“After” (July 2017, Issue 63) by Megan Branning

“Distant Deaths of Galaxies” (October 2017, Issue 64) by Ann K. Schrader

As usual, we begin the new year with another batch of fine poems from Katharyn Howd Machan (He Believes It), John W. Sexton (Gone to the House of Sound), Sara Tantlinger (Shadow Sustenance), Hester J. Rook (Sentinel), Ken Poyner (Personality), Joshua Gage (Demon Villanelle), F.J. Bergmann (Rapunzel), Frank Coffman (The Last Transport), and David Shultz (Spatial Arrangement).

And there is one more poem. In recent years, I have contributed a seasonal poem for the January issue; therefore I will open Issue 65 poetry with a fanciful interpretation of a Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. The title (Every time a bell rings) comes from an expression in the movie by Frank Capra—a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama based on the short story, “The Greatest Gift” (Philip Van Doren Stern, 1939). I tried to capture some salient features of the storyline of that movie, but I wanted to go beyond it by transcending it with some surreal or fantasy elements and lifting it into poetry. The associated image is a composite of an angel overshadowing a businessman walking through a beautiful, but lonely wintry park in New York.

 Every time a bell rings
     After “It’s a Wonderful Life”

I remember when I saved my brother
when he crashed through the NY ice
on a thinly frozen lake. Church bells
sounded like muffled clangs under ice
cold water. And for a moment, panic,
I thought they tolled for me, too.

Every time a bell rings, I dream
of ice cream trucks and where they’d
take me if I were behind the wheel.
And where I would’ve flown—
to distant islands in that dream.

Every time a bell rings, I cry
because the stock market crashed
and had to use what little money
I had left to run the business.
There’d be no honeymoon with
my sweetie.

Every time a bell rings, like now,
the prayers to heaven must have
rung in my Lord’s ears. I know.
When despair was ringing in my
own ears, I could still hear the clink
of crystal—my angel’s wings.

John C. Mannone has work in Poetry South, Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope ReviewBaltimore Review, Pedestal, Pirene’s Fountain, Event Horizon, Eye To The Telescope and others. He’s the winner of the 2017 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian literature and the recipient of two Weymouth writing residencies. He has three poetry collections: Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing) won 3rd place for the 2017 Elgin Book Award; Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press) was featured at the 2016 Southern Festival of Books; and forthcoming in 2018, Flux Lines (Celtic Cat Publishing)—love-related poems using science metaphors. He’s been awarded the 2017 Horror Writers Association Scholarship, two Joy Margrave Awards for Nonfiction, and nominated for several Pushcart, Rhysling, and Best of the Net awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & ApexSilver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. He’s a professor of physics near Knoxville, TN.

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