A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Basil Rosa,

who also writes as John Flynn, has published five poetry chapbooks; a story collection, Something Grand; a book of poems, Moments Between Cities; and translations from the Romanian of Nicolae Dabija, Blackbird Once Wild Now Tame.

He has earned awards from the New England Poetry Club, and the U.S. Peace Corps.

His novel Heaven Is A City Where Your Language Isn’t Spoken is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. Visit his website.

The poems published here are from a series entitled North Atlantic Shell Collection.


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Anomia Simplex

Some call it a jingle shell,
its song a series of divisions
up circular horizons.
Wind rises, rose-hips fall,
and this shell keeps the hours.
Which name, Sir,
does your country give
to such air?
Red quarter-wind, or green half?
Henry The Navigator was here.
So was Strabo and Zephyrus,
Boreas, Auster and Eurus.
No maps required
when the dead sing.


Crepiduia Fornicata

An infant’s toe might fit inside this one.
A couple of fleas could use it as a long boat.
Might be a toenail cap for a dinosaur.
This is a slipper in search of its princess,
part of a mosaic carpet of shells that covers this beach.
Without question the most common washed-up treasure
along the shorelines I’ve scoured of late.
Today’s no different. It’s the most plentiful in all my pails.
It reminds me that to be common is to be broken,
dinged-up, past one’s prime like so many others.
To be the nail-head that doesn’t stick out.
To blend with hardened runnels in the light
of blood-fires that fatten low clouds,
twilight dying scarlet each spreading wave.


Mytilus Edulis

             I am smitten with this study in indigo.
No vales here, no velvets
no lunar jazz moods or metaphors.
They have all been taken.
             What I see in this blue is an ebony inflection,
a suggestion of darker caverns within cage walls.
I’ve never liked the name of this shell.
Rhymes with Russell and makes me think of sport.
I see in it more star-shine than I expected,
a burst of silver at the point-ends of each cicatrix.
I see in it frigid boot-black lips that once held an orange tongue.
Belgians devouring it with fries, beer and mayonnaise.
Too much night sky in the gleam that emerges
as I rub it between thumb and finger.
As if the thing is daring to show me an emotion.
I could never chew on its soft innards.
             Funny, no thoughts of bruises occur in its blue.
Shouldn’t the name of this shell evoke them?
I know, like me, its innards harden when poached.
I can’t explain it, but it reminds me of the wounded nose
on a girl named Penny. I worshipped her from afar.