Father’s Day Tribute 2015

Welcome to the Father’s Day issue of the Dragonfly Press Ezine! This month, we have:

“Wonder” by Paul Dunlap


— for Gwendolyn

At seven every night, she disappears
Into her room to line her animals
Before her feet and reign. She gathers all
Her favorite books and reads so they can hear
And see the pictures, too. Some words are clear,
Some seem familiar in the rise and fall
Of speech, the sounds she’s learned to shape and feel
Inside her mouth.
I sit and read to her.

May you find pleasure in the sounds you’ve heard.
But even as you learn this tongue, O daughter,
I wish for you those things you cannot lose,
That words cannot express, like wonder, laughter,
And joy untempered. Keep them close, and choose
This life, and learn to love the flesh made word.

Paul Dunlap’s work has appeared in English Journal, Image, The Greensboro Review, The Montserrat Review, Reed, and the anthology Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge. He teaches English at Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California, where he also advises Pandora’s Box, the student literary magazine.


For my father, British Military File Number 5884286,
(Private William F. Oldknow, 1912-1984)

5884286–like a charcoal ghost, you, boy, follow the lead soul
into the blacked-out night to see gods on fire among swirling clouds,
where war planes, theirs and yours,
dodge and grind among searchlights and flak bursts,
5884286 burnt into your brain and soul—

his soldier-file number, you at four years old, your father’s number,
the only address you all know him by, write to him with,
trudging and bayonetting, just like the enemy,
fünf acht acht vier zwei acht sechs burnt in black for you on fire sky—
the sirens’ tortured off-key wail orders you out, demands you return

into and out from your brittle shelter with its flat concrete roof
where the other souls along with your own
sit cramped in brown rough-wood pews, eyes open, asleep, unseeing.
with your charred soul-lids closed in dry prayer,
you follow the one lone screaming violin of your night

where with your fiddler’s fingers stumbling blindfolded across a Niagara tightrope
like Blondin—ultimately successful, of course, though your fingers never can feel sure—
you follow muffled sounds to a fragile waif shimmering in searchlight
revealing himself as young gold-headed Yehudi flown-in from safe Britain
standing ablaze in the black center of the just reopened and cleansed Paris Opera.

His solo strings keen softly awake in the Marseilles,
then end to the thunderous roar of the souls’ handguns clapping
Mary Hemingway heard and wept to—not bombs again, not quite yet—
before, year after year, multiple crashes, like the drumbeats of slammed drawers,
announce people loved dead again—and again—5884286! 5884286!
Suggested by Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto, opus 15 (1938-1939) played by Janine Jansen (violin) and the Berliner Philharmonika conducted by Daniel Harding, 17 October 2009—and Mary Welsh Hemingway’s How It Was, (Futura Publications Limited, 1978)

This year, Dragonfly Press will shortly publish UK-born writer, small-press editor, publisher, and visual artist Antony Oldknow’s second full-length short-fiction collection, Dr. Upex and the Great God Ing: Fifteen Weird Stories. Oldknow’s poetry, fiction, and translation, has received distinguished North American and European publication in books, chapbooks, anthologies, and magazines, notably in All Hallows, American Poetry Review, Antaeus, The Fiddlehead, Ghosts & Scholars, The Literary Review, The Montserrat Review, The Nation, Poetry, Radio France, and Supernatural Tales. In 2012, Oldknow retired as Professor Emeritus of English at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, where, among other things, he is currently collaborating with Jane Liu on a book celebrating five millennia of Asian culture by focusing on Chinese ameliorative-health philosophy and practical exercises, along with nutritional advice, recipes, and a demonstration DVD.