Bill Cushing: Three Poems
Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher, Poetry Editor
NIÑOS DE LA POBREZA ETERNA
(an ovillejo after Fidelio Ponce de Leon’s “Niños”)
In Rembrandt hues they pause before
abject children who can’t escape
this drab landscape—
nor its archives of oppression
Barren famine distends them
into el Greco perspective,
babes suckling on the effects of
coarse nature, this drab landscape—and desperation.
As this place at the foot of the mountains
moves from dark into day,
black-clad women bend under
bone-white bags draped over shoulders.
Stealing people’s dreams along the blue avenue,
these shadow babushkas
grip full sacks in their left hand,
holding our reveries like bales of cotton.
One kneels at the road’s shoulder, having dropped
her duffel, revealing her face
from beneath a sooted cowl
had any vigilant villager been aware.
Another stops, stoops to scoop back
the spilled contents but worries
after the distance lost by the delay
as a trio of doppelgangers
trudges past, bringing their bounty
to the realm of Morpheus
where demons can gather
to dine on our evening’s fantasies.
THE GREAT GOOGLE WARS OF THE EARLY 21st
The battlefield splayed across the tile chessboard
of a twenty-first century writing lab.
The combatants: one anonymous, stakes his slab
perched on a stool, a Goliath who perches
over a search engine named Google.
The challenger, David, his paltry weapon:
a hand resting, palm down,
in the index of the hardbound
pages of Sonnets by Shakespeare.
Perpendicular in their positions,
the pair commence their decided duel:
“What number contains the phrase—?”
“Where do we find these images displayed?”
The clack of the keyboard sounds
against the flip of turning pages,
sounding like the swish
of a sling slicing the air.
Not much more sound emanates from this sphere
as the duel of searches continues. In the end,
the combatants draw a tie, but there is fear
that the digital giant of googling—
so ubiquitous a thing, its very name became
a verb—may ascend, to destroy and replace
the tactile pleasure of pages,
the smell of their leaves, the feel of their edges,
relegating books to the Museum of Bygone Ages.
Photo credit: Ariana Comacho
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Cushing moved to California to marry in 1996 after spending time in numerous states, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. At the University of Central Florida, Bill Cushing’s peers called him the “blue collar” poet because of his years in the Navy and working on ships before returning to school. Earning an MFA in writing from Goddard College, he retired after more than 20 years teaching at East Los Angeles and Mt. San Antonio colleges. He lives in Glendale with his wife and their son. Honored by Spectrum as among the Top Ten L. A. Poets in 2017 as well as a “Poet to Watch” in 2018, he’s been published in Altadena Poetry Review, Brownstone Review, Metaphor, and West Trade Review. Two of his poems—one nominated for a Pushcart Prize—appeared in both volumes of the award-winning Stories of Music. Along with writing and facilitating a writing group for 9 Bridges Writers Community, Bill and an area musician collaborate as Notes and Letters, which is available on both Facebook and Youtube. A Former Life, a volume of his poetry, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2019 and was recently honored with a Kops-Featherling International Book Award. His chapbook Music Speaks was the 2019 San Gabriel Valley Poetry chapbook winner and has been republished with illustrations; it won a Bronze Medal in the 2021 New York City Book Awards. His new chapbook, . . .this just in. . ., is available through the publishers site (https://www.cyberwit.net/publications/1722) as well as through Amazon. Signed and personalized copies are available directly from Bill by contacting his e-mail (email@example.com).