Forsaken, the Carthaginian Quartet. Poem. Joseph Armstead

…the warm waters of the Punic ports stir fitfully…
City of Bones, languid and arid, it sleeps,
skeletal ruination of Phoenician dominion,
Hellenistic citadel, on the eastern shores
of Lake Tunis, once a sandy jewel
in the crown of Elissa,
birthplace to Hannibal,
and legends of endless war…
the squawking of gulls threatens the silence

1.) Confessio Nunquam
— my voice will hide —
the membranous gates
to my secret heart
are stitched shut, sown
of coarse thread, spun of denial,
I let nothing bathe
in the revealing light of day,
hiding nakedness
behind a fragile,
cracked, mirror-mask,
a spiders’ web map,
faultlines of the psyche…
— Sssshhhhh—!

2.) A Strange Blindness
History obscured
behind a wall of lucid dreaming,
soft-focus P.O.V.
through the vaseline
smeared over a camera lens,
I clutch the Past to my chest,
cautionary, restrictive,
custodial, prenominal,
let no picture escape, no image
be seen, no tableau unfold,
sub-rosa, clandestine,
none can know the Truth…
— cryptic, let sleeping dragons lie — 

3.) Sigmund Benedicta
…shamed, I camouflage my ferocity…
I am struck mute.
searing magma of flaming tears
behind eyes swimming
in the memory of damnation,
while shameful denial forms the lyrics
to a song stuck in my throat,
words set to the music of heartbreak
waiting to play
before an audience
eager to judge…
chaotic, quixotic, impracticable and dreamy
my anarchy seeks its voice
— hush, I will not speak —

4.) The Justinian Variation
the dam breaks, the levees are overrun,
the hot stones of the rocky shoreline hiss
as the waters cascade inward from the harbor
the necropolis coughs its myths
into the air, fable and folklore
dancing with skeletal ghosts
through the haze of antiquity,
and the waters rise yet higher
and the sun-baked ruins grow cool
The sound of my voice astonishes me:
bygone phonems, repressed grammar
and disremembered syntax mix
with nostalgia
creating a lullaby
for ravens.
Unrestrained, I sing
in the City of Bones,
the squawking gulls
my choir…


Joseph Armstead is a suspense-thriller and horror author living in the United States’ San Francisco Bay Area.   Author of a dozen short stories and ten novels, his poetry has been published in a wide range of online journals, webzines and print magazines.   A mathematician, Futurist and computer technologist, Mr. Armstead’s poetry often defies easy description, but frequently includes neo-classical imagery, surrealist viewpoints and post-modern themes.

[email protected]


Oxford in the Twilight of My Mind. Poem. Toni Calvello

Toni Calvello Picture
Old Oxford town
rolling into view.
From the tour bus window
I vaguely remember the distant past;
I remember the neighborhood,
the houses,
the stores.
Could it be
you were my home in the past,
quaint old Oxford?
The place I  remember,
the monastery,
quill in hand,
scribing for a living,
the scent of lavender
wafting in the breeze
across the open court yard
to my open window
as I gaze out at the Jabberwocky Tree.
Did I walk these grounds before,
stroll lazily through the forbidden garden,
worship in the cathedral–
the cathedral whose stones
speak of an ancient past,
whispering secrets
while sunlight illuminates
the Rosetta window,
beckoning me remember this shrouded place,
a place hidden in the optical illusions
of my imagination?
Oh, Oxford!
If I had my way,
I’d come home again;
home to you and the wonderland
buried deep
in the recesses
of my mind.
Toni Calvello’s work has appeared in many national and international journals including Haiku Society of America, Poetry Life and Times (Great Britain), Arabesques Review (Algeria)  Paterson Literary Review, Edison Literary Review, Chiron Review, and Voices of Israel. (Israel). She was awarded Honorable Mention in a haiku contest held by Haiku Calendar Rokovnik — Ludgreg, Croatia
She teaches in the Intellectual Heritage Dept. at Temple University and the Writing Rhetoric  Depts. at University of the Sciences Philadelphia and Rowan University.

RMS Titanic Centennial Sonnets 7 & 8. Poem. Richard Vallance.


The Dusk Casts Shadows

The dusk casts shadows on the drowning sun,
Titanic's lights ablaze.  She cleaves the sea,
a mirror to the stars, her maiden run 
serene success by some divine decree.
The falling swell has passed, the past astern.
The last two days will spell “The Promised Land”
each Steerage soul must face with some concern, 
with little else but landing grant in hand.
In First, astern the barren promenade,
the after-mast casts light in frosty arcs
on Ida Straus *, her furs, her pale pomade,
and Isidor, in arm, as she remarks,
before retiring to the plush saloon, The sea’s like glass this Sunday night.  No moon.”

8Iceberg dead ahead!”
[11:40 p.m. April 14 1912] The sea is calm tonight, 
          The tide is full, the moon lies fair 
                         Upon the straits; …”

          Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach (1867)

The sea’s like glass this Sunday night. No moon
casts light upon the ice-pocked sea, where stars
are cast in bituminous black, in tune
with Ages Past. Titanic flat-out scars
the glassy sea her raking bowsprit cleaves:
her splashing wake’s so cold her passengers 
must flee the promenades the starlight leaves
in livid darkness.... where nothing stirs,
and nothing stays the artificial breeze
that snakes along the hull, and takes its pulse
on brittle rivets, frozen; so they seize
upon the berg Titanic can’t repulse.
   Fleet * alerts the bridge, “Iceberg dead ahead!”Astern!”  Propellers lash.  The iceberg 's fled. 



RMS Titanic Centennial Sonnets 7 & 8.  are excerpts from Richard Vallance's  
Garland of Sonnets due for later publication, in - The Phoenix Rising from 
the Ashes: Anthology of sonnets of the early third millennium= Le Phénix 
renaissant de ses cendres : Anthologie de sonnets au début du troisième
millénaire -now in the galley production stage at Friesen Press, scheduled 
for  release June 2013. ISBN: Hardcover: 978-1-4602-1700-9 Paperback: 
978-1-4602-1701-6 eBook: 978-1-4602-1702-3.  

We urge readers of these sonnets in Poetry Life & Times pre-published from 
The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes = Le Phénix renaissant de ses cendes. 
Victoria, B.C., Canada, Friesen Press, © June 2013  300 sonnets in English, 
French, German, Chinese & Farsi,, to visit the
site. Readers may also contact Richard  Vallance, Editor-in-Chief, at:
[email protected] for further information.