Issue 17: Charles Tarlton

What Is and Isn’t True: The Great Gatsby

This isn’t just an epigram — life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.

                                                                                                                                                             — F. Scott Fitzgerald

once barely hinted

estimates emerge full blown

now with the gauntlet down

and the wounded and the fake

demanding they be heard

if you’re a listener

you’ll get accused of all sorts

of things.  From wanting

to exploit the weak who flock

to you to getting off on them

a good listener

must sift through rough, rocky dirt

through others’ worries

looking for smooth and lighter

sand, something he can use

as Solomon was known

to set verbal traps for those

who came bemoaning

how their world, how their life was

— he asked, “Would you be someone else?”

On the Seashore: Twice Told Tales

When, therefore, the yearning for seclusion becomes a necessity within me, I am drawn to the seashore.

                                                                                                                                                            — Nathaniel Hawthorne

lonely were the sea’s

salt waves each piling one upon

another in Time

an isolation imposed

for more than sanity’s sake

dreaming meets our need

for escape, shedding others

learning how to fly

high above the city’s call

riding the incoming waves

meet the day early

drain it dry.  Nighttime rolling

in will savor it

the sea’s memory lights up

the dark street coming home

Try to Remember: Swann’s Way

... comme des écailles sur mes yeux

                                                      — Proust

one who has been

wholly dead and whose ideas

from previous lives

echo faintly in our thoughts

as memory is — déjà vu

dreams, sleeping deeply

awakening her deep sleeper

dreaming of herself

walking out of the story

turning into — Charlemagne

comme une chose vraiment

obscure, the blackness thickens

she was forgetting

things as quickly as she thought

them, rewriting history

Goes Begging

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?

                                                                                — Richard Wilbur

With a crudely lettered sign that read

Homeless — Hungry — God bless

a woman in camouflage pants and army boots

stood in the middle of traffic

outside the supermarket parking lot.

This wraith, exuding here like a lanced infection

or excreta we can’t think from where,

she crawled her way out into our thinking

distant, alien, and unreachable.

I remembered all the mendicants

I’d ever seen — blind cripples and Gypsies

with drugged infants in their arms, lunatics

talking to themselves, and a depressed Spaniard

sunk abysmally, his black weeping.

In the end, this spectacle lasted only the seconds

it took for the light to change and let us

escape the beggar and her pleading looks.

I said it was probably staged, my wife felt

we should have given her something.

Charles D. Tarlton’s poetry has appeared in 2River, Blackbox Manifold, contemporary haibun online, Fiction International, Haibun Today, Ink, Sweat, and Tears, Kyso Flash (featured poet), London Grip (UK), Review Americana, Shot Glass, Rattle, The Journal (UK), and Tipton. Muse-Pie Press nominated his poems from Shot Glass for the 2013 Pushcart Prize. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter.


Copyright © 2016 by Charles D. Tarlton, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.