PoetryIssue 19 | December 2013

Bulgarian Pantoum

by Aileen Bassis

Plazas are grey, dogs roam, the streets
are grey and mourning doves
ride the damp wind, crying
coos but who is listening under this vacant sky?

In Bulgaria, fields of roses are grown for oil.
Plazas are grey, dogs roam the streets
amid fields of rose petals, plucked by the thousands
riding, the damp wind crying.

Verdant forests of cowslips and primroses bloom
in Bulgaria. Fields of roses are grown for oil,
between the rubble heaps. The factory shells lie
amid fields of rose petals, plucked by the thousands

between knotted strings of roads turning.
Verdant, forests of cowslips and primroses blooming
along roads that don’t lead forward or back, all tangled
between the rubble heaps. The factory shells lie

exhausted, horses waiting for slaughter
between knotted strings of, roads turning
each knot, a hidden baby tooth
along roads that don’t lead. Forward or back, all tangled

like the logic of ideology, a sham and a cheat. 
Exhausted. Horses waiting for slaughter
haunting the plazas. Buildings open cracks like rope unraveling,
each knot, a hidden baby tooth

lost in islands of debris drifting down the muddy river
like the logic of ideology. A sham. A cheat.
Whirlpools stir and dissolve, debris floats in the river, dogs
haunting the plazas. Buildings open cracks, like rope unraveling.

The mourning doves rise from the empty parks,
sail high to ride the damp wind, crying,
haunting, the plazas, buildings. Cracked open like rope unraveling,
plazas are grey; and dogs. Dogs roam the streets.

About the author

Aileen Bassis was born in New York City and now lives across the Hudson River in Jersey City. She’s a poet and visual artist with a long career in book arts, printmaking, photography and installation. Her artwork has been widely exhibited across the US and can be viewed here. You can find her poems at Eunoia Review, Haggard and Halloo, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Still Point Arts Quarterly and Underwaternewyork.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok