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Other notable works by Michael Meyerhofer, Denise Sweet and Brent Goodman.

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Tom Montag-

CEMETERY, ALBERTA

It’s a high, dry place on the short grass where
we pause in a sharp wind among the graves.

Oh, the great sadness, the distance tawny
with it, the color of wind, of wind and

desolation, here where it seems we are
alone, even as we stand together.

_______________

FIELD WITH CROWS

So all the crows settle down
to sort things out, though there’s
not much difference to sift.

We are at the edge of
the road. They are in the field.
Their darkness. The black dirt.

Oh, the blue sky, one of them
wants to talk about. The creek.
The last of the seeds. Which tree

shall be yours, and which mine?
What of love, another asks.
So they pair off, as we do.

Evening comes. The darkness —
theirs and ours. They don’t know
what to say to us. And we don’t

know what to say to them.
We have never known.
Love remains the mystery.

_______________

CHOICE

She stands
at the window,

then turns
from it. She has

lost the will
to resist and

lies down now
into sadness.

The world is
grease and smoke

with no one
to say good-bye.

_______________

JUST MUD

thrown at paper
like paint.

Hang it
up to dry.

Say This is
what I mean
.

_______________

MARRIAGE

Marriage, like those
night dogs calling

across the water,
coyotes singing

in the distance.
Sometimes we speak

their long, high vowels.
Their needs are simple:

eat meat, get sleep,
pass on their genes.

Ours, not so much,
or so it seems.

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Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013. Other poems will be found at Architrave Press, Atticus Review, Blue Heron Review, The Chaffin Journal, Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, Little Patuxent Review, The Magnolia Review, Mud Season Review, Plainsong, Portage, Red Fez, South 85, Sand, Third Wednesday, Town Creek Poetry, and other journals. He blogs as The Middlewesterner and serves as Managing Editor of the Lorine Niedecker Monograph Series, What Region?

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Michael Meyerhofer-

KINDRED SPIRITS

Let’s say you’re sitting in a coffee shop
reading a book of poems when
someone in the next room
starts playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano
which reminds you of your mother,
then you turn and page and here I am
describing the exact same thing.
Sure, you’d marvel at the coincidence,
but what happens next?
What social networking program
will carry the news, which will
likely fail to impress your friends?
I suppose you could write me a letter
but what if I’m dead by now?
It happens. So many years since
the invention of language, let alone
sadness. And every year,
more bones rinsed clean as those
oversized cups resting upside-down
on a black tray behind the counter.

_______________

TANTRUM

My friend, the single mom, is trying
to keep her cool as her thirteen-year-old boy
kicks the dog, throws his plate across the room,
lies on the floor pounding with both fists
like his skinny arms will help him
break back into the womb, but really
I just want to smack him across the cheek
as her sautéed asparagus slides down
the wine-and-canary wallpaper
and she tries counting backwards
like one of those uniforms in a missile silo,
just want to grab that crying face
the color of the pan-seared salmon
steaming on her fine plush sofa and squeeze
until his eyes swell up like radishes
the way mine did the first time
I took a straight jab in boxing class,
then a blurring right hook that undercut
all my faith in angst—which,
as it turns out, is weaker than knuckles,
than the skin they wear like an apron.

_______________

AUBADE

Last night when we were lying in bed together,
everything good, death and separation
as distant as those stars with Arabic names,
I suddenly thought of another night many years ago
when I found myself in a Walmart in Indiana
at three a.m. and I was so damn lonely
that I bought a body pillow to cuddle with,
only when I got it home and took it out
of the box, it was about as soft as partially
cooled lava and smelled besides, some kind
of factory-born cleaner to keep the bugs away,
only by then the sun was coming up
like it is now, and it’s hard to care sometimes,
and heat you know is really just atoms
moving faster, that’s all it is, but I like the heat
we make under blankets in the throat
of winter, how just by existing, parts of me
move faster whenever yours are close by.

_______________

ODE TO THE REPAIR GUY

While Dale the repair guy addresses
the charred out fuse box in the kitchen,
persistent lust of his saber-saw
kicking the smell of sawdust
throughout the whole apartment

I am trying to write poetry
about chopsticks, reading the latest stuff
from the ezines, pausing whenever
it sounds like he might come back
and catch me with verse on the screen:

a haiga featuring a naked woman
some might mistake as pornography.
I’m having trouble with a tanka;
another poem about astrology requires
a reference to fine scotch I can’t find.

Twice, Dale walks in and interrupts me:
once to explain how two-by-fours
aren’t actually two inches by four inches
anymore, which is why he has to cut
and trim the space behind the cabinets

to make the new box fit; the second time
to ask if I mind him smoking.
I say I don’t—as the blue smoke
drifts from his lips, he tips his head like
a Japanese dragon and comments

on how his biopsy came out negative,
shows me the crescent scar on his chest
in a moat of tangled gray hair. I find
the reference I need, roll the word
ballantine on my tongue, again and again

until I can almost taste its syrupy musk,
feel justified weaving it into a poem.
Meanwhile, Dale goes out to his truck
to look for a longer blade, comes back,
goes out again for more cigarettes

then asks me what I’m working on.
I want to tell him my frustrations over
poets who think modern haiku
must be written with seventeen syllables
the way others who don’t write poetry

expect all of it to rhyme in pentameter.
Instead, I answer Just some school work
then explain how in exchange for a master’s
degree I’m teaching composition
to a class of nearly illiterate freshmen—

his attention drifts, he saws some more
then goes out for some lunch,
returns later with a faint smile and
tells me it’s snowing outside. I like that,
he says, how it makes them bare trees pretty.

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Michael Meyerhofer’s fourth book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was published by Split Lip Press. He is also the author of a fantasy trilogy and the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry, Rattle, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and other journals. For more information and at least one embarrassing childhood photo, please visit troublewithhammers.com.

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Denise Sweet-

The Lost Maya

At Panahachel, I sat in cathedrals,
lit candles to invoke the patron saint
of beggars, a statue poised to gaze from
within the wooden alcoves, his eyes
bearing down on me in stone cold indifference.

Light fell through stained glass as I gave prayer
a chance; cofradias swung tin cans at each
doorway burning pendulums of copal while
the stiff planks beneath my knees show
years of anonymous penance.

As I leave for the plaza, I hear the click and low
whistle of young boys sitting outside on the
cathedral steps; though my skin brown,
my nose Mayan, and I call myself Indigena,
I bear an unearned pride that makes no sense here.

To them I am the gringa who hides her privilege
like a birthmark, groomed, well-dressed, and
unused to the heat, I am the foreigner of
complaint of El Norte. I st each day in the zocolo
sip espresso, ask for photos, touch huipiles aquapiles
from Aititlan, Cortes bloodred as the lava from Pavayu.

I watch the bonegames of chance in the parke central:
black candles, popping eggs, glint of gold in the smiles
of Mishimon amidst the smoke and fire, the chatter of
the daykeepers, and as they sing, the sound of kachikel
dancing barefoot on the edge of the world.

_______________

Farmer Takes A Wife

Hard rains came the end of spring. Riverbanks melted into slur. New watermarks each morning the day before, just shy of flood stage. The long fever does not shake loose this time. Chills and night terrors sweep through the house until dawn. He cannot place the line once drawn from delirium to fever and insanity anymore, unable to decide whether to to sharpen his axe or to grease his brake lines of the family Buick. Who can blame him for wanting to drag for days through acres of the black, musky soil, listening to Patsy Cline, chew packed hard into his lower lip? No amount of prayer will lift the heavy weight of Black Earth crop failure this time. Another favorite barncat, clinging like wet laundry to the woodpile. The baby rests on a damp mattress, waiting for a burial. Bread sits soggy in the pantry while his wife gnaws on the windowsill. The farmer has not moved from his chair for days, looking at the fields that once held seeds of everything he was to become. The Farmer’s Almanac sits open to the charts of annual crop predictions while sprouted seeds ferment and bubble, their yeasty odor.

_______________

All the Animals Came Singing

I. Somewhere between nowhere and shadow
you held still and quiet, and quick slip
and you would totter over the edge of the world
Taking with you ancient songs of love, of devotion
of longevity; songs that celebrated
the simple elegance of living in balance.

So many whimpered in your absence
the throat singers tried in vain to call
you back, other winged creatures felt lost
and caught off from the harmonious crane song
that once trumpeted across the marshlands
the width of the riverbanks.

It was in our ignorance we fell silent.
Helpless, anxious to be of use,
we began to think of swamps and bogs
as eerie, ugly and useless.
We drained those drained those windigo wetlands
paved them over or planted crops
that floundered or refused to take root;

We tried to fill and give function to the emptied camps
of the whooping cranes: or were we trying to fill
that empty nest in our hearts shaped by your absence?

II. We are told that it is inborn in all living beings
to return to the place of its beginning, to rise and sweep
with what strength is left and begin that wondrous trek
towards home, no matter the distance, no matter the passage.

One day, you appeared shy, secretive, you appear in the bright mist.
As in your own emergence account, you stood before us, waiting
for us to send out a simple prayer, greet you by simply standing still.
You stood before us, elegant, erect, majestic in form, a hooded shaman
from the farthest sky out of range of the naked eye.
And all of the animals came singing.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Denise “Dee” Sweet Anishinaabe (aka Ojibwe: aka Chippewa, enrolled at White Earth) Professor Emerita, Humanistic Studies,English, First Nations Studies

WI Poet Laureate, 2004-2008

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Brent Goodman-

In the Middle of the Music

The secret to drawing symphony from a cello
is in the angle you rest its neck along yours,
and recognizing your lover the only other hips
you cradle your knees around this relaxed.
Lay a waterfall on its side and call it whitewater:
both names equally blurred and beautiful.
Art intentionally slows time to dilate the present,
the voice calling faint from midpoint suggests,
and as soon as I find my center he’s the first digits
I plan on dialing. The way I planned my mid-life crisis
to feature a hospital rooftop helipad landing scene starring
a medevac nurse who radiates light like young Mother Mary
in an orange flight suit and radio helmet. Let’s say I arrived in style
and survived to discover I will live to enjoy exactly 74 years,
or at least until I change my mind again. As if every choice’s
unchosen branches grow through your living room drywall
to pierce someone else’s living room, where they’re called
“opportunities” I guess, by a man who, like you, thinks
he’s just doing the goddamned best he can. You’re both
right, which just might explain how a bow unspools song
from nothing but taut wound string, a hammered note,
and the star maps folded within a cello’s body.

________________

Views From the Backseat

Alabama’s Greatest Hits cassette tape
thumb-pressed into the player console.

Endless green freeway exit signs
audience to argument and silence alike.

Downtown interchange concrete ramps
and blue sky, a smokestack, coal barge.

Fast food drive thrus drive thrus drive thrus
and oily paper sacks crumpled at my feet.

The line between two brothers, his side,
my side, the invisible brother between us.

Sure: a rainbow, heron, bikini, ambulance.
Bank tellers and their great sliding drawers.

Gas pumps. Cathedrals. Driving through forest,
windows down, a song from the radio returning.

_______________

And If The Body Were Not The Soul

On the elevated giraffe feeding platform
a grey prehensile tongue wraps and grabs
the rye crisp from my hand (2 for $1),
this head wide as any horse now absurdly
eye to eye, neck taller than my entire body
stands. I’m with my partner (whom I love but
cannot marry) and his sister (whom I love
but cannot marry) at The New Zoo.
Where earlier I beamed Reiki to a llama
who carried a dirty rug on its back. Jesus –
what is the soul, anyway? Spotting cell towers
during the drive made me wonder just
how many conversations speed through us,
what wind between our molecules, writing books
on the fly. The crowd on the feeding platform
is shoulder to shoulder, and yes we touch,
and yes I shiver easily, and yes emotion
creates weather and the heart is a pulsar.
Over picnic we question if a giraffe eating nothing
but rye crisps, standing in a sunken cement pen
licking strangers fearful hands all day is healthy
for anyone. What is the body? my Soul asks,
serving me chopsticks of cold golden tofu.
Later my partner and his sister baby-talk the newest
Japanese Macaque when suddenly I notice
there’s strollers everywhere, children screaming
in fear or delight along the winding concrete paths.
O couples who must marry but might not love!
I was walking past a sullen jock carrying his unexpected
infant in a sling when his cell phone called mine:
My life has mistaken me for someone else.
Orgasms can do this, and more. Before I was born
I chose my parents, how about you?
Between molecules conversations breach lightspeed.
I most wanted to visit the 40-yr old
giant tortoise and simply climb inside.

________________

Pockets of Sheer Wind

What’s the name of that song that goes
I love you I love you I love you
right before the pedal swell of a steel guitar?
The wolf tooth moon wants to know,
not me. I want to know if I can take
a train through a mountainside, and if so,
where one might hop on. I carry an eclipse
in each eye, just in case. What’s the name
of the place where the back of my hand
brushed the ass of your Levis and we
both pretended it didn’t. I want to dance
there, to that song the moon wants
to know, with you, until we do.

_______________

The Night Longer Than Algebra

and above the dark blue sundown
a thumbnail tear in the sky reveals
the universe is nothing but white light.
But little numbers all painted white.
And what the window frames also
always moves. I asked a bird and
the answer was algebra, and the tree
was geometry and the sickle sweep
above the horizon is growing brighter,
or has the blue now all but left us?
Gratitude is the act of greeting
every stranger as if they approached you
in dream. Or every letter the moon
tries to hand you. The curved light equations
pouring through – operators, variables,
expressions and like terms too, all pollen
on a bee’s hind legs. What the mind frames
also always moves. I asked a hive
and the answer swarmed everywhere.
To create the most realistic 3-D animation
of a waterfall, special effects teams employ fractal
algorithm programs. Only when you divide
water-rendered spheres by the divine proportion
layer after layer to infinity does it begin to appear
both falling and rising into brilliant mist at once.
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Brent Goodman’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Sou’wester, Pleiades, Green Mountains Review, Pank, Diagram, and elsewhere. Goodman is the author of The Brother Swimming Beneath Me and Far from Sudden, both from Black Lawrence Press.

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Sarah Brown Weitzman-

ODE TO YOUR FEET

How modestly and unashamed
your feet peeled out of their socks
like a secret revealed.

Almost hands
but more square, white
as wrists. Shy
shadows between each toe.

Never brazen
as big toes can be
sticking out from under sheets.

Never flinging themselves about
like hands. Never bending
or scraping like knees

or bulging obscenely like muscles
and loins. Solid as columns
of legs but stupid

as cauliflower, yes, stupid.
Stupid, stupid feet
that carried you away.

_______________

TONGUE

Pink oyster thick-tied to its shell
an uneasy existence
between neighboring gnashers

Snide in the cheek but always the danger
of a bite or a slip
or the proverbial cat
not to mention that limbo
poised at the tip

With none of its own
at the beck and call of a brain
yet a master of any language
or twister

Tasting the budding delight
as far as it goes
of licking the lips
to invite a juicy dance
with another’s to follow it in

_______________

TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN MIDDLE-MANAGEMENT EXECUTIVE
Class visit, 2073

He was one of the very last to have to die
as young as ninety-eight. A man of his age

he followed the then nostalgic trends
of turning for comfort to mashed potatoes

and Prozac. Low-fat cooking and his trainer
kept him fit as a Third World laborer.

He had a really good heart
harvested from a thirty-year-old DWI,

two facelifts he admitted to but still he died
before the pills that stop us from aging now

and without a clone so he couldn’t take it
with him. Instead he left his considerable estate

to his children: the daughter who came out
right after Ellen, the oldest a fanatic

fundamentalist and even the son who believed
that O.J. was innocent. The post-modern

paintings he collected so confirmed his
Twentieth Century anxiety, they actually lulled him.

Yet he shook his head when he read
the newspaper accounts of fatal child abuse,

new detention camps in Bosnia,
and corporate take-overs by the Russian mafia

in Brooklyn. But he felt genuinely patriotic
during the war after Iraq War. Most of all

he loved mega-chain discount stores,
serial killer novels and was truly grateful

for satellite intimacy. He had no trouble
accepting life’s normal losses

but he sincerely mourned
the frogs when they became extinct

as much as he did the daily rises in the Dow.
A man who had no illusions and encouraged

sub-prime mortgage lending, we think
he spoke for his era. Note his motto there,

one of Jeopardy’s recent daily doubles
and lately taken as the slogan

of the Druglords Party’s presidential candidate:
“Who really gives a damn?” (Emphasis ours.)

_______________

WOMEN’S FANCIES

Treading the men-lined city streets we
women would like to turn those men around
and pinch their behinds
or sit next to them on buses or subway trains
with our knees spread out so wide
they’d have to sit all tensed and small
as possible to avoid any contact
or we could give them our seat
and then stand over them to look down their shirts.
And we’d never let them forget
that they have a penis or that we have a thing
for chests. We’d call them dear and doll
so we don’t have to remember individual
names and when we talk to them
we’ll stare at them below the belt
and when they’re walking down the street
we’ll keep up a barrage of whistles and comments
to keep them continuously aware of us.

In business we’ll judge them
by their looks and how they type.
We’ll pay them less than women
working in the same positions.
In bed we reassure them
that we’ve had hysterectomies
and we’ll tell each one of them
You were great, baby, you’re my main squeeze.
And when they demand equal rights, a male ERA
we’ll mention the selective service
public bathrooms, the closing of their clubs
and cite some vague religious reasons
to explain that their masculinity would be in jeopardy
and that it is ludicrous to make such a fuss over status
since we usually buy them whatever they want.
But when we finally run out of arguments
and they still insist on equal rights
we’ll just have to tell them how awful it would be
for us.

_______________

WHEN I WAS YOUNG

our a radio was a substantial piece of furniture
and the telephones had a rotary dial.
The refrigerator freezer was the size of a shoebox
My father wound his watch every evening before
he went to bed. His La Salle car had a running board.

At the movies there was a double feature, one
coming attraction, a news reel and an aged matron
with a flashlight who shined it on you if you misbehaved
and hauled herself up the stairs when the boys
in the balcony threw their chewed gum down on us.

When my grandmother died a telegram was delivered
right to our front door by the brother
of the girl who worked in the 5 & 10 cent store.
Everyone wore black to her funeral even though
they weren’t related. My mother said the word,
divorcee, in a whisper when a cousin arrived. Copies
of the death certificate were made with carbon paper

I remember when our doctor made house calls.
A dollar allowance went a very long way
because with a penny I could buy twenty jelly beans
or a long strip of candy dots on paper.
My mother believed that steak was good for me
Nothing we ever bought was labeled “Made in China”
and poems rhymed

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Sarah Brown Weitzman, a Pushcart nominee, has been widely published in numerous journals including ART TIMES, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, RATTLE, MID-AMERICAN REVIEW, THE WINDLESS ORCHARD, POET LORE, POTOMAC REVIEW, POET & CRITIC, etc. Sarah received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her latest book, a departure from poetry is a children’s novel, HERMAN AND THE ICE WITCH, published by Main Street Rag.

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Lynne Knight-

Mastering the Dark

Stop spending so much time in the dark,
my mother said, insinuating sex
with the boy down the street, masturbation,
who knew. It was worse when I decided
to sleep nude. If the nuns could see you!
Poor nuns, wrapped like mummies in their linens.

Nothing was ever said directly, not by the nuns,
not by my mother. The book she gave me
at thirteen to teach about sex had such discreet,
unlabeled drawings that until I was eighteen,
I thought men had three penises. I soon learned
better, but the pity I felt for my first lover . . .

None of this matters now except the dark.
Dark matter makes up most of our universe,
yet we don’t know what it is or how it works
if it works at all. Maybe it’s just there
like the dark we’re all forced to negotiate,
sleeping with the lights on, refusing to go out at night—

the stars, the moon, let the fools have them.
My current method is to walk down the street
at night & up into the hills unlit by anything
but the stars & moon, where I take comfort
in the speed of light, forcing myself to imagine
the world going on, & me nowhere to be seen.

_______________

Anti ]those[poetics

This is what happened when it was
decided to hide everything under
the rubric of never never never never

never mentioning the dead grandmother
the bright fields well maybe
elliptically so maybe Elysian

no: nothing so retro as myth
or God forbid literary allusion

your knowledge working
against you (possibly

(do a bit of fancy work with ]
these[ because oh the cleverness the interest

of your little mind at work
hiding everything
or is it that you really have nothing more

to say or

][

this:
you do weep over your dead grandmother
and [ )&( ] if you had the chance would run
the bright fields forever

_______________

Fable with Body, Child & Doll

Sometimes a child comes along
with an old-leather look in her eye,
a quaver in her child’s Why?

When she takes out the cups
& saucers for tea, she’s mashing
her gums like biscuits.

Body watches the child
reconsidering her doll,
drawing a red-ink heart

where the heart should be,
scissoring it out. The stuffing
looks like old socks cut up.

Later, the child sews the hole shut
with black thread, insisting
the doll is improved.

She names it Charity.
Every time Body comes to visit,
she holds Charity out

then snatches it back. Ha ha!
she cries. It’s more a hiss, but Body
ignores this, for the mother’s sake.

After all, it’s not as if Body’s going to escape
time, either. Some nights Body dreams
her own death, becoming

a death doll, with a sock
plugged in the hole where once
was her heart. Body cries & cries

but nobody comes to stitch Body back up.
The child pours tea in a thimble cup.
She’s done sewing.

_______________

Childhood

That day the hills pulled green up from the root.
The aspens shook; the water, iced with snowmelt,

rushed the rocks you leaped to, crossing over.
Sunlight pierced the canopy of pines, the ferns

unfurled, & birds you didn’t know to name sang out.
How could you have known you would go home

to your mother shaken, her father ashen, the dream
that he would build his house beside you up in smoke,

your father said, braced with whiskey & the truth
he’d known for years: dreams weren’t intended

for anything but momentary escape from all
the sorrows that accumulate. & sorrow came:

the rapid death (a burst aorta), your mother’s ally
gone. You don’t need more of the story to grasp

how a day can begin in green yet end in ash,
but not without instruction for the heart—remember

all those moments in the woods, the birds singing,
the wind tossing shadows from the pines, the brook

so clear you might have read time passing there.

_______________

Teaching Sons & Lovers

I’d been married ten years when this began.
Then, every year, I said the same things
about Walter Moritz: he was not without
his good points, yet a man whose vigor was sapped
by his awareness, acute even when he was drunk,
of not being enough for his wife. So his love,
his body, both so robust, began to wither.
If you created an essentially pitiable character,
I said, you had to start with the positive, engage
the reader’s sympathy. Then I went home
to grade papers & drink until I couldn’t feel
the pain of speaking about my life so clearly.

_______________

Random Strategy

Wild turkeys swarm the neighbor’s bank,
pecking at all the new ivy shoots. Bark!
I tell the dog, who stands statue-mute
staring through the fence. Bark! Even my voice
fails to alarm them. Stupid birds, sauntering
down the road like people, waiting until a car
is almost upon them before straying from its path.
They’ve probably eaten all the impatiens
by the front gate & mangled the azaleas.
Anything bright, they’re on it. The neighbor
left his rhododendrons to die because they take
so much water, & we’re in a serious drought,
but one rhodie managed a sole blossom.
I dare one of the turkeys to fly up to it.
They peck & saunter, saunter & peck.
The dog loses interest. I check the time.
Eight minutes, & I haven’t thought of you.

_______________

Leave Me Alone

That was only the beginning of the end
Every moment is the beginning of the end

It’s hard to think this way, she thought
A noise like a rustling in the branch a crash an emptiness

Don’t go too far from the real, the therapist said

She heard her mother: Come back! Come back!
Oranges in a bowl picked by what worn hands
The shirt on her back stitched by what young girl

The world offered itself & she chose the house
on the street that had once been a lane

Come back! Come back!

The gods sank down into stars & went on burning

The work to be done had a name:
Mother

The work to be done had an open duration:
(Mother) Long-rooted weeds strewn across the lawn

The gods sank down into stars & went on burning
The moon hiked her skirts & slid into the bay
No hiss because she was all cold fire

When they step into boats the dead displace no water

Come back! Come back!

But she could relax
Her mother stood in the doorway on tentative feet

Go away first a whisper then not Go away

_______________

Prelude, with Wolves

Why throw your voice to the wolves?

I said I thought it was wind—
you threw your voice to the wind.

She looked out the window & shuddered.
Wolves at the door? I asked if she’d gone to the snow
where wolves roamed.

A dog is a wolf.

Yes, I agreed, domesticated, but—

I’m going crazy, aren’t I.
Still looking out the window. Did she see wolves
there, in the courtyard at Napa?

I shook my head. Not crazy, no.
What else was there to do?
Denial seemed wrong.
There were wolves of all sizes & shapes,
after all, & the dogs of the war
that gnawed her had no names.

_______________

Sky Drops. Forever Heather.

You can’t rely on echoes for the truth,
he said while we stood in the canyon
where we’d hiked all afternoon, naming
what wildflowers we could, inventing names
for the rest, Sky Drops, Forever Heather,
in between arguments over the nature
of things, namely love, which he claimed
as the primary illusion, Adam mistaking Eve
as his own likeness although no one believed

the story, at least no one with a discriminating
mind, he said, & I nodded, still back on love
as an illusion, because although I loved him,
or would have sworn I did, I’d never said
as much to him or anyone, he being a friend,
my best guy friend, I’d say to everyone,
including him. Sky Drops, Forever Heather,
& what did it matter anyway, he said,
since love would end in death no matter what.

But wasn’t that what we were here for,
I said, to take some of death’s great power
away with love—since love was one sure way
to feel you’d found a way to be immortal
as you swore to love forever. Just like I said,
he said: a total illusion. You mean the only
actual thing, the only reality is death? I asked.
That’s so gloomy. So depressing. At least
it’s not an echo, a hand-me-down feeling

or thought, he said. Don’t pride yourself
too much, I told him; death targets pride.
How’s that great sonnet go? Death be not
You can’t rely on echoes for the truth,
he interrupted. Here. Take this. He plucked
a nameless flower, held it out to me.
It’s Love, he said. Or Death. You choose.
I’ll always go for Love, I said. He smiled.
A loving smile, or so it seemed.

_______________

Not Phoenix, Not Portent

Nothing that happened could have been foretold.
The sages tried, the shaman scattered bones;
soothsayers roamed, reading the water,
reading the sky. But nothing came from the future
but silence, the great silence of the past
thrust forward into eternity. Or so people said.
Their words carried on air yet seemed small,
weak; the grandest orators felt themselves muted.
Soon darkness came, & the screams
of the forest, a rush like the pulse of a river.
People stood trembling. It was the end, they cried,

but the wind wrapped their cries into brittle leaves
& crushed them against empty buildings.
No one heard the fire begin. Afterward some swore
its roar seemed human at first, then animal,
but no one heard it begin. When the birds rose
from the ash, their wings heavy with ash,
so heavy they stood a long time trying to lift them,
lift into air, the lovers turned to each other
& wept at the unbearable weight of mortality,
their bodies working their codes while the birds
rose into the myth that some things go on forever.

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Lynne Knight is the author of four poetry chapbooks and four full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which, Again, appeared from Sixteen Rivers Press. Her work has appeared in a number of journals, including Kenyon Review, Poetry and Southern Review. Her awards and honors include publication in Best American Poetry, the Prix de l’Alliance Française 2006, a PSA Lucille Medwick Memorial Award, the 2009 RATTLE Poetry Prize, and an NEA grant. I Know (Je sais), her translation with the author Ito Naga of his Je sais, appeared in 2013.

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Other notable works by JL Kato and Diane L. Lewis.

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Norbert Krapf-

My Band Career

Playing trombone on Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust”
in the dance band as a high school freshman
in the glow of soft purple light with a few guys
and mostly girls dancing in socks was ultra cool,
but marching in the band during halftime of football
games was anything but. Once Mr. Cox, the band
director, caught me dogging it in practice for the state
fair marching competition, on the football field.
“That’s okay, Krapf,” he boomed out. “I know
You don’t want to be here.” How right he was!

When I dressed with the varsity football team
as a sophomore, Coxie insisted that at halftime
I change into my band uniform to march,
then change back into pads and football garb
and return to my seat on the team bench.
This wretched rivalry was tearing me apart.
When a freshman challenged me, I was demoted
by a seat, gave up, and dropped out. Goodbye,
Mr. Cox! Hello endzone, which I found
in a uniform more suited to my passion.

Decades later I took up the violin, played
by my father and grandfather, when
my daughter, six, started Suzuki violin.
After a year of group class for parents,
I kept fiddling on my own. One day my
daughter, who didn’t like the competition,
looked up at me and asked, “Daddy, would
you please quit?” I did. I lost but also won;
daughter got a violin scholarship to college.

After thirty-five years of publishing poetry,
I started performing poems about Hoagy
and Cole and Wes Montgomery with a jazz
trio in a sunlit glass dome, then returned
to an early love, the gut-bucket country blues.
I started collaborating with a bluesman
who taught me how to play slide guitar.
Mr. Cox, who’s almost back in the band?

_______________

Stovall and Burnt Cane Roads
for Muddy Waters

Found the intersection where you,
lived, McKinley Morganfield,
in a cabin that became a house
you turned into a juke joint.

Heard the sound of bottleneck
guitar playing in the breezes
riffling the pecan trees
like the ones must have stood
here when your grandmother
brought you as a little boy.

A man drove along the dirt lane
at the back of the site
on a tractor like the one
you drove in these fields.
We waved to one another,
as if from different times.

Later, a young man driving
a huge sit-mower came to cut
the grass where the cabin stood.
He said his name is Canary Cox
and that he too loves the blues.
You got a canary listening
to you in the home place
who agrees its cool to
cut Muddy Waters’ grass.

I’m hearing your Plantation
Recordings as the cabin door
opened into the train to Chicago,
not just nearby Memphis.
Electricity amplified your
bottleneck sound to world class.

The cypress cabin you left
behind still stands
in the Delta Blues Museum
in Clarksdale for all to enter.

You brought to the world
the sound of another mule
kicking down the dirt lane.
You carried to Chicago the memory
of the Chatman Brothers, later
the Mississippi Sheiks, jamming
in your juke joint on the Stovall
Plantation. One day you would be
sitting on top of the blues world,
but your song never forgot
where it came from, a cabin
left behind in the Delta dark.

_______________

Charley Patton at the Dockery Plantation Well

I stood alone with Charley
where the well was once full
when he lived at Dockery.

Everybody wanted to hear his song
and dance at the commissary on Saturday
when the Delta night was dark and long.

Charley’s body was small
but when he played and sang
his spirit grew big and tall.

His percussive guitar had a reach
and his singing’ and talkin’ voices
spoke as if ripped from the breach.

Charley had the boll weevil, banty rooster, rattlesnake blues.
When the little man thumped and shouted and keened
high water rose and seeped into all our dancing shoes.

The man sure did love his women
and after they danced and shook it
Charley Patton took them swimmin’.

Charley rode a mighty frisky pony
and he screamed and hollered the blues.
Never was nobody could do it like Charley.

Charley Patton crossed over to the other side.
He rambled and rode the Pea Vine Line.
His songs brought us all along for the ride.

Charley Patton passed over to the other shore
but if you listen to the songs the little man left
his heart and soul rise in you more and more.

_______________

Singing American Bird Song to My Grandson

He is tired and cranky and fussy
and I decide to speak to him
in the language of song.

Not just because he is Colombian
and German and American and
some part of him may recognize

an ancestral song, I decide to sing
the songs of American birds to him
here in southern Germany. I should

call up and sing a song I know.
I start with the who who who of
mourning doves and he stops

fussing and turns his eyes
and ears toward me. He keeps
looking at me as as if my music

sounds familiar and he wonders
how I know it and can give it back
to him. So I go with another song

I know well, the bob bob white
of the quail I also remember from
my Midwestern childhood. His eyes

open wider, as if he realizes I have
even greater powers than he knew.
Every note of either song makes

him quieter and calmer and brings
him nearer to me as I enter deeper
into the mystery and miracle he is.

_______________

You Stand There Ironing
(for Katherine, after Tillie Olsen)

As you stand there in the den ironing
elegant onesies you bought cheap
at the retail outlets on New Year’s Day
for your grandson Peyton to mail to him in a red,

white and blue Priority Mail box to Germany
where he is discovering the powers of observing
the world from the watch tower of his high chair,
you smile as if caught in your own pleasure dome

in front of the gas fireplace in our downtown
townhouse in this Midwestern city.
Behind you in a large framed photo stands
a Franconian farmer, Hans Engel, an angel

of the fields where my daylaborer ancestors
worked before emigrating to America.
Above him on a shelf stands another
framed photo of three farm women sweeping

the streets of their village clean for the weekend.
I smell the steamy heat of my mother’s iron
and hear her hum as she finds new places
to put a crease in our clothes and see your mother

stir smothered eggplant in a big iron pot
on the stove above a blue gas flame
in her Louisiana kitchen. Into these several
houses walks Tillie Olsen holding a pen to stand

with all our mothers as you stand with all our
grandchildren who will step into their freshly
pressed clothes and walk into the world just as we
fade away into the memories that live for them.

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Norbert Krapf, Emeritus Prof. of English at Long Island Univ., is a former Indiana Poet Laureate and the winner of a 2014 Glick Indiana Author Award. His 26 books include the recent Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet’s Journal of Healing, his 11th poetry collection. He held a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis to combine poetry and the blues, released a poetry and jazz CD with pianist-composer Monika Herzig, Imagine, and collaborates with bluesman Gordon Bonham, his guitar teacher, and poet-therapist-harpist Liza Hyatt, with whom he co-presents the workshop Mining the Dark for Healing Gold: Writing About Difficult Relationships. For the past ten years, Norbert has lived in downtown Indianapolis.

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JL Kato-

The Judas Man in His Pajamas
One audience member yelled “Judas” at Bob Dylan as he was transitioning from folk to rock.

For punishment, the gods of rolling rock sentenced
me to scream “Free Bird” at each concert stop.
It’s a nightly dream: The organ quivers, and I start
clucking. Then the guitars scratch the air, chugging
endlessly, wings flapping everywhere. In my dream,
I wake up exhausted while in the next room
the same song bleeds through the wall, masking moans.
There must be some way out of here, but no.
It has become quite the joke how different couples
play the same song over and over while doing
the same thing at the same time every night.
Feathers fly everywhere as I am forced, once again,
to pluck the plumage off that damn bird.
In your dream, I wake up, stoned, doing the funky chicken,
and Beethoven rolling over one more time.

previously appeared in So It Goes: The Literary Journal, issue 2

_______________

Winter, 3 a.m.

Lamp outside my window, eyelids shut against the light.
A pennywhistle dream, pursed lips frozen in the night.

Feel free to seduce me. Press your tongue against
my cheek. Interrupt my sleep talk. Declarations

of fleece and wool. Blanket me with your skin.
Permit the wind to sing. The fireplace is cold,

ashes sifting on the grate. What smolders
must flame. The frost must melt. Feel me. Reduce

the iceberg on my shoulders. Thaw and steam.
What warmth we create. What warmth we bring.

No longer old. Who cares the lifeline’s length,
the scar across my palm? Falling snow. The calm.

_______________

Stoned Love
“It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough/
You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to love “—Robert Palmer

“Your name is Medusa,” her parents
explained, “Because at birth,
your eyes glared at the world.”

Though she loves them,
Father and Mother stand
as stately statues in the plaza.

Medusa’s husbands never
survive their honeymoons,
yet Ms. M keeps hoping.

The frequent widow sits
alone in a bar anticipating
the next pickup line.

In the parking lot, a dozen men
display rock-hard muscles.
Lovers locked in endless poses.

She once fancied a man
who promised her the moon
to hang around her neck.

He gave instead a white glass orb,
which she returned, inserted
in the socket of his stone-stubborn head.

The bar is empty; the patrons dead.
Still, Medusa waits outside
the entrance, facing the dawn,

hair writhing in the wind.

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JL Kato is a native of Japan whose assimilation into American culture is so complete, he cannot use chopsticks. His poetry has appeared in Paterson Literary Review, Raintown Review, So It Goes: The Literary Journal, and several other publications. His first poetry collection, Shadows Set in Concrete, explores his midlife discovery of his heritage. He is a former newspaper copyeditor and lives in Beech Grove, Ind.

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Diane L. Lewis-

A Poet’s Gumbo
(for Norbert Krapf, Indiana Poet Laureate 2008-2010; published in Hoosier Writers 2012: A Collection of Poetry and Fiction, Compiled and Edited by Lowell R. Torres, July 2012)

stirring up synonyms and syncopation tonight
a pinch of spoken word
a dash of ragtime
a teaspoon of salsa rhythm
a little more spoken word
until the recipe was just right
and this poet’s gumbo is cookin’
with some African beats
mixed with some chamber music
sautéed a little jazz, served over blackened blues
like my man Norbert
the poet laureate from Indiana
a super poet with mad skills
serving up a dish with
a secret ingredient
must be doin’ something right
’cause it sure smells good in his kitchen

_______________

The Art of Family

You create something that is forever.
Your art is on stage; it is who we are.
Even at your worst
you are at your best.

Our memories are sweet
chocolate covered cherries
dripping from our lips.

What you pour out leaves
no bitter aftertaste.

We are all better for the nectar
flowing freely from your heart.
It is like no other;

griot woman child
we are your story
your history, your legacy
we are your true art–
the art of family.

We bond
held together by the glue
of our accomplishments ;
celebrating and mourning together.
indeed each of us
loves you in our own way.

We are three dimensional.
We are expanded.
We are inclusive.

Our sense of Umoja
is awakened because of you.
We sow seeds of love,
patience,
forgiveness
from the fruit that falls from
your tall thick tree

we are planted
in the fertile soil
of your being

We belong to each other,
we form a chain that reaches
beyond what any one of us could imagine.
There are no weak links.

We learn to rely and depend on
each other by your open spirit,
your open hand.

You make us feel safe in a world
that takes and never gives.
Your Kuumba gives birth to art;
the art of family.

_______________

if it were so

if he could be born again
he would choose next time to be
a Ferris wheel, finally feeling life
surge through his aching heart
central, urgent.
like carnivals or circuses
he would be forever adventurous
free
rename himself Gypsy.
he would be extravagant
with a sturdy red and orange metal frame
that climbed high above
the green-gray dappled trees.
at sunset, his lights
would illuminate
the coming night sky
for miles reflecting
off the motionless water in the bay beyond.
and little girls and little boys
would laugh in his arms
as he tossed them high
and far from their anxious parents
waiting below.
and those who felt themselves
brave would moan and cry as
he swirled the air,
creaking in their ears
fulfilling their wild waking dreams.​

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Diane L. Lewis is the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ 2010 Robert D. Beckmann Emerging Artist Fellow. The Beckmann Fellowship provided the author a unique opportunity to develop as a writer, with the goal of producing a full-length book of poetry. Lewis has published work in several anthologies including Reckless Writing Poetry Anthology 2013, (Chatterhouse Press), Tall Grass Writer’s Guild Anthology 2014, (Outrider Press), Flying Island Literary Journal (2014) and HiddenCharm Press (March 2015).

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Other notable work by Daniel Wilcox.

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Charles F. Thielman-

Chicago Series

’64

Headlines promising a day
of dark wings fed by thermals, sirens
circle below the plank of a dangerous night.

A paper carrier, fingers darkened by newsprint,
his arms full, walks beneath an arch of birdsongs,
porch to cement stoop, dropping The Chicago Tribune

on welcome mats, eyes and ears tracking the slow cars
and suspect doorways, pre-dawn sky like new skin,
a veneer over balsa grain, today being his turn
to raise the flag above half-mast, much
still held sacred this spring.

_______________

Jazz Lounge

Carrying spurs of transit staccato,
I retreat to here from driving city bus,
yellow brake-squeal turns, ear-drum lanced.

Hair-trigger sidewalks prepped for war,
lined with saplings.

I retreat through thick wood doors,
long fingers thrumming bass,
blued drinks slaking August throats.

My lists of angry speeches left to simmer
as guitar ignites a fire, piano smoking.
My back relaxing into the sways
of this good time crowd full of color.

A tall jazz woman broils a love song
and spoons it out, musk sauce
brushed into marrow.

All of us down for this cool balm,
spooning jazz across our full canvas,
straight from soul onto scotch burning ice.

O, she throws her full indigo song
into the rhythm-thrummed floor,
fingers snapping all here, all here,

and the specific names of trees
ease into murals of shade,
into murals of our children

holding their arms out,
waiting for doves.

_______________

Brush-Tip

Insights unfold beyond
the wishbones of wants.

Opened wings drying
above rock strata,

she’s focused on what blooms,
brush-tip carrying a bead of dark blue.

_______________

Bridge Fed

He swears his oaths, by word and choice phrase,
staccato fogs and gray scarfs drawn away by wind,
ice building on his moustache and beard
as he snowshoes towards the bridge made brilliant
by January sun, with snow etched on struts and railing

by a 16-hour blizzard, now limned bright white,
riverbank to riverbank, along that ferrous,
linear and sub-zero route.

His college rises red-bricked and heated,
across from the snow-drifted riverside park.

Balancing with ski poles, he lifts and pushes
his snowshoes over and through powder then thin crust,
salting his commitment with chant and rant,

urging his legs through snow and wind to the workshop class,

planning to deliver for critique a poem appreciating winter
writ for and to a certain young woman,
the blue-eyed dawn skier with a tropical heart

who tongues vowels into his dissonance,
brings out his laugh,
asks if the strong poles she gave him
help him to maneuver?

They have lunch at the cafeteria after the class,
dessert to be occasioned
and celebrated via his spontaneous and confident decision
to go with his first draft.

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Daniel Wilcox-

earstopper

she cadences the leavened dusk,

a sweet musician of love-summer’s night

opposite from the Haight far-coasted away;

her cute auricles dangle Beethoven notes,

in this late ‘67 Philly rock cave of peaceniks,

while outside world-round Nam explodes;

a concerted violinist with me, her conscientious

objector–we’re subjected to sought blasting,

only 10 feet from huge blockbuster speakers,

utterly noise-‘numbled’ by Moby Grape

in the dark flashing psychedelic night—

torrential storm of noise,

led heavy,

thundered down,

in trashcan-split,

eardrummed crescendo;

but then suddenly she, my classical lover,

plugs her aural openings

close-fingered shut,

fearing tonal loss

–like her mused mentor;

oh, my dear

ear-achingly beautiful girl, not swaying here

one true

earstopper for the glorious,

melodic Light.

*Originally published in different form in The Write Room

_______________

Gazing on Gaza

Like Samuel, Vonnegut gets called up from the grave
to say—

Judge for yourself,
No one’s got eyes

To see, no one with a Kingly, Martin sort of vision/dream;
Only strident martinets

Now heaving/hurling—ethically sick,
While UN diplomats ‘jawbone’ us to death

With nice resolutions; Samsonlite…

Where has their gaze gone?
(I mean gaza)

Samson’s at it again
Bringing the building down

Because he’s lost his gaze or gaza;
Only covered women (and children)

Walking wounded,
Or buried, burned, abandoned

Like the 4 youths (3 versus 1), and a few thousand,
Got cornered

Boxed and shipped,
Or cowering, smoking from past rockets

In Tel Aviv or Gaza City

No Delilah here;
Just Philistines rage on and Samson’s might holds

And many less hairs or heirs
Till Sheol…

Judges 15-16

_______________

our ‘checkered’ past

we three sons in new shoes squished hot
sticky blacktop that veined our street,
so many cracks–twisting to rock ‘n roll,

but then encountered our ogre parent;
“scrub off all that!” we got told.

i countered, “it’s the other sun’s fault–
chubbycheck mate!” with a twinkled glint.
we got railed and tarred down

to that asphalt sin
on our outer souls.

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Daniel’s wandering lines have appeared in many magazines in the United States, Canada, and overseas including Word Riot, Centrifugal Eye, Write Room, Static Movement, Camel Saloon, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Counterexample Poetics, and Unlikely Stories IV.

Before that Daniel hiked through the University of Nebraska, Cal State University, Long Beach (Creative Writing), Montana, Pennsylvania, Europe, Arizona, and Palestine/Israel. He now lives on the central coast of California with his quilting wife.

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Joseph Reich-

Third Cousin Removed From Heimlich Maneuver

They met at the physical restraint class
for group homes and fell madly in love.
she was no dummy, he was, no matter,
pretty much interchangeable, and made
a connection on a physical, emotional
and spiritual, psychological level
both living real damaged fucked-up
lives and had the need to be held or
held onto or held tight. there’s this
keen phenomena during such types
of dynamics and training exercises
where you know you can only let
go once they actually start crying.

_______________

Making The Scene

I’ve decided gonna just be
one of those centerpieces
of wax fruit placed smack
dab in the middle of one
of those awful horrible
dining room tables
as believe upon
retrospect always
had a slight bit
of a social phobia
nor ever really had a heck
of a lot to say to the guests
as always liked them so much
better from that perspective
and think would just feel far
more comfortable just sitting
there as an undercover bowl
of wax fruit next to some
unused dusty piano and
whole half-crazed family
with insane pasted-on
smiles looking down
on me from some
family gathering
from some picture
frame just hanging
there suspended
in time with
my ear bent
to that good
ol’ grandfather
clock going off
on the hour
lulled to
sleep lulled
by trauma
and triggers
and rigid reminders
of 3, 4, 5, 6 in the morning
ya gotta be kidding! reason
wanna be a centerpiece
of one of those bowls
of wax fruit just being
left the hell alone if you
kinda get where i’m going?
like that cruise ship made up
of string stuck in a bottle
till the end of time
sailing off to eternity.

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Joseph Reich has been published in a wide variety of eclectic literary journals here and abroad, nominated five times for The Pushcart Prize, his most recent books include, “A Different Sort Of Distance” (Skive Magazine Press) “If I Told You To Jump Off The Brooklyn Bridge”(Flutter Press) “Pain Diary: Working Methadone & The Life & Times Of The Man Sawed In Half” (Brick Road Poetry Press) “Drugstore Sushi” (Thunderclap Press) “The Derivation Of Cowboys & Indians” (Fomite Press) “The Housing Market: a comfortable place to jump off the end of the world” (Fomite Press) “The Hole That Runs Through Utopia” (Fomite Press) “Taking The Fifth And Running With It: a psychological guide for the hard of hearing and blind” (Broadstone Books) “The Defense Mechanisms: your guide to the fragile mind” (Pski Porch Press).

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Other notable works by Bonnie Maurer and Daniel Carpenter.

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Liza Hyatt-

Time

It is, as you look forward,
a crossroad asking where you will go next,
a tower blowing into dust,
a mountain range, steep ascent, hills, steep decline,
a snail creeping silently along.

It is, as you look back,
an ear learning to listen,
the double-beat – dub-dub – of the heart,
a small house with the full moon rising over it,
a nail driven into the wood of a crib of a coffin.

It is, right now,
a beginner’s uneven embroidery stitches,
a question of self.

It begins with
a cross on which regrets soon hang,
followed by tears that bead then flow down the cheek,
followed by the arches of lips soft in prayer.
It ends with a swirl of wind, a sigh, a breath.

We can imagine all kinds of things about it.
It is a balance whose scales, for the moment, hang evenly.
It is a dot and dash of Morse code.
It is a flying buttress supporting an ancient cathedral.
It is a hoof print in mud.

And it is a pig’s tail roasted with the rest of the beast for a pagan feast.
It is yesterday and tomorrow, two buddies snuggled together.
One of its eyes is open seeing impermanence, while the other winks in jest,
and we limp along with it as our crutch

until we realize we were always whole
and no longer need it.

_______________

Ode to My Broomstick Skirt

Oh, maiden fair, floral skirt,
oh, twenty year old skirt,
given to my daughter this morning,
when I first desired you, it was because
your colors and patterns
of flowers and leaves
echoed the body-loved places
of my first thirty years,
Indiana woodland spring beauties,
lost, to city living,
roses and lilacs and apricots in Santa Fe
that ripened with young love,
Oregon’s sand and berries
and autumn rains of first fury, first grief,
all lost, all turned under,
as construction of new cities, adult decisions,
cleared the wild ground in the
skin paradise of wonder.

Oh, skirt of yestering, I loved you
because you swirled with the colors
virgin and awakening
and when I wore you I still felt beautiful
and I was still beautiful, still young.
I packed you in my honeymoon suitcase
and you flowed from newlywed hips in Athens
and you strolled through Minoan ruins
and dined on white and blue terraces
overlooking the ocean caldera of Santorini

and then you came home with me
and I wore you, still young, still beautiful
as a new mother, my daughter, body of my body,
sweet rose bud, apricot of delicious baby flesh,
summer mornings, with robin song and storybooks,
and I wore you to art fairs and festivals and reunions
still a free spirit, still an old soul,

until one day, my daughter,
grown to school-age self-consciousness
told me you were ugly,
not like other suburban mothers
in their black and grey yoga pants
of fitness and perfection

and still I persisted in wearing you
rebelling, longing, grieving
but finally saw myself a middle-aged woman,
wide belly, wide hips, no longer
the lithesome thing who first wore you
and you as old and tired, your fabric thinning,
and so for several years now, you have hung in my closet,
a relic of the past, almost worn, passed over.

But this morning, my daughter, now seventeen,
vintage clothing shopping in my closet,
finds you, desires you,
and I give her to you,
and she emerges from her room
slender and lovely
with sandaled feet and bare shoulders,
the maiden at the sacred grove
dancing her way to Aphrodite’s temple,
swirling her way out the door
to her car, her school, her leaving home
her falling in love,
more precious,
more beautiful
than any beauty that may adorn her,
as I once was, as I once lived.

Oh, my beautiful daughter,
oh, sweet, fleeting maiden,
oh, skirt of longing,
rite of passage,
clad in you,
she is just beginning
to give her body to the world,
and standing at the threshold,
letting her hazard everything,
wishing I could put you on again
and rush off with her,
I stand here rooted,
an old apricot tree,
waving good bye,
clad in the scarves of autumn wind,
becoming more and more naked.

_______________

A Dreamed Koan

The frustrated teacher insists:
There are only two choices.
Surface and depth.
For the life of the soul,
you must always chose depth.

The scared student argues:
Not always!
And then, without knowing it,
says even more
by falling silent
and taking a breath.

_______________

Mythic Menopause

Menstrual blood, before I must accept you will not be shed again,
paint for me the woman you’ve danced inside me all these years –
shape-shifter woman,
your henna hair, muscled arms and legs,
battle ready, blood spattered,
belly round with all my unborn babes
that you birth in the otherworld
where you are the leader of an ancient clan
from the Iron Age of the womb,
long before the one of men,
a tribe of sisters, mothers and grandmothers and grandfathers
who know you as the source, the earth, the root desire,
the belly of the cave upon whose red walls
we paint what we hunger and hunt for,
from whose mouth we are born
after every burial, every dream, every night.

Come wet, raw, juicy from my brush of blood
to stripe my cheeks with war paint
and tell me I have spent too many years
captured and enslaved by those
who reject and steal from you,
who would be healed if they did not fear you.

Give me skins of wolves and lionesses
and tell me I am free now
and tell me you are not leaving
for you were with me,
as sharp thorns and red roses, bursting open
in the green girl’s circle garden,
as mother-work to plant, harvest, nurture and feed,
and you are here, now, in flashes of heat, sweat,
fury to reclaim creative life,
and you will be with me as
hearth-fire and torch-light deep in the bone,
as crone in her marrow cave of underground rivers,
storms of wind, snow, vulture, owl wisdom.

Woman whose eyes see in the dark,
who dances with loss,
and is strong enough to grieve
a lifetime of loves and memories departing,
already, so soon, telling stories
that make my hair white, and my gut clench,
let me trust you do not lie
when you tell me not to fear,
when you insist that the dying woman
you’ll make of me is not weak;
she is the most brave.

_______________

For Maggie, in Costa Rica

In this once-in-a lifetime river,
we are in every moment just once , always
and today the boat has reached the place
where ringless trees are always growing,
and lizards run on water
and fruit falls from the sky.

We have seen the hummingbird rest, nest,
this always-in-motion being
another animal, utterly still, at peace.

We have seen sparks that daily rain doesn’t douse,
fireflies above the night forest.

We have seen caterpillars
becoming blue morpho butterflies.

And now, as we float in the tannin dark water,
high in the canopy, the trees stir, shake,
a troop of spider monkeys,
swinging from tree to tree,
crossing above us.

Its mother nearby, a young one hesitates,
then throws itself into sky,
falling, missing, just catching
branches far below,
and hurries back to where her mother waits,
tail wrapped around the tree they are leaving,
hands holding the branches ahead,
body suspended over the water,
a bridge which her child scrambles over.

Our boat sails on, and there are
cloud-covered volcanoes, hot-springs and thunder,
queasy roads, Pacific surf, and ocarina mornings
and then we are flying above islands
and looking down into storm clouds
busy with lightning

and then, you, my child,
who, in half a year, have acquired
driver’s license, car, and passport,
are leading me through
the customs maze in the Dallas airport

while in Tortuguero, that young monkey
is flying across wider and wider open spaces
high in the trees,
her mother watching, following,
every branch, every movement,
another arrival,
another letting go.

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Poet Liza Hyatt is the author of The Mother Poems (Chatter House Press, 2014), Under My Skin, (WordTech Editions, 2012), Seasons of the Star Planted Garden (Stonework Press, 1999), and Stories Made of World (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She has been published in various regional, national, and international journals and anthologies including Reckless Writing, Tipton Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, THEMA, Black River Review, Pudding Magazine, Indiannual 4, 5, and 6, Flying Island, Branches Magazine, and England’s Tears in the Fence. In 2006, Hyatt received an Individual Artist Project Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission.
Liza is an art therapist (ATR-BC, LMHC) and adjunct professor at both St. Mary of the Woods College and Herron School of Art and Design. She hosts a monthly poetry reading at the Lawrence Art Center on the east side of Indianapolis. She is the author of Art of the Earth: Ancient Art for a Green Future (Authorhouse, 2007) an art-based eco-psychology workbook. For more information, visit www.lizahyatt.wordpress.com

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Bonnie Maurer-

Searching for the Warsaw Ghetto

I cross Warsaw streets with my dark images.
Ghetto walls up to ten feet high
topped by glass and barbed wire. You’ve seen them:
Families, gaunt and ragged,
smuggling a child out for a beet or potato.
A woman shivering from typhus.
Heaps of dead bodies naked in wheelbarrows.
Boys’ hands tunneling underground passageways
to live—maybe.

I ask the hotel clerk,
pressing my city map into his hands,
Where is the Warsaw ghetto?
“You are standing in it.”
“You mean last night I slept
on the feather bed, lingered
in the shower, hot and cleansing,
in the Warsaw ghetto?”
“Yes, he says.

I have come to Poland
to seek Holocaust sites
as if the seventy-year-old news
were as fresh as the fruit tea
I sipped this morning
in the lobby, in the Warsaw ghetto.

Between apartment courtyards
I find a remnant brick wall,
lean in and link my body
to family history in Poland.

I stroll through Warsaw’s lavish parks.
Who is complicit in the old faces I see?
Does the Polish gentleman staring
me down in the tram
see an obvious American Jew?
I ask one young waiter,
“Do you recognize Jews
on the street?” “What Jews?” he asks.

Late one night I stand
in the middle of Stawki Street
on painted white tracks. Here,
the drunk engineer loaded his steel
freight car to full capacity.
I step back between granite walls,
into The Umschlagplatz
Memorial—
collection point for 300,000 Jews
deported from the Warsaw ghetto,
taken to die in Treblinka’s gas chambers,
pumping day and night.

I read out loud the symbolic
Hebrew names carved on the wall.

Oh ears, summoning voices jostling, shouting to be heard.

_______________

On this city bus to Auschwitz

1.
We choose window seats.
We pass the houses painted yellow
sporting red gabled roof tops—
patriotic as the Polish flag,
flower boxes drooping light-hearted
petunias at every window and every
window framed by white curtains of lace,
fenced-in shrines to Mary,
willow trees and apple trees—full and plenty,
flat fields of corn and in one
field, smoke visible in the air, something
burning clear. We pass the Wisla River
smacking its pewter lips in the sun.

2.
And for the ashes dumped by truckloads
into the Wisla River, rolling its singular shame
through Poland without song,
it takes a math problem: Three
or four kilograms per person,
times more than one million murdered,
subtract the ashes spread onto local fields
as fertilizer and how many kilos escaped to town?
Where do the ashes blow today—
into yellow paint? On the shoulders
of Mary? In the apple dumplings?

3.
And we are told Nazis organized gardens
for flowers shipped to the Reich.
Imagine the young German bride
calculating her blissful steps down the aisle,
clutching flowers born from the ashes
of gassed and cremated Jews.
“I do,” “I do” the bride and groom
vow above the floral scents
of roses, lily, baby’s breath.

Originally published in Poetica Magazine, 2013

_______________

Himmler’s Lunch in Minsk 15 August 1941
(from his diary and excerpt on the museum wall at Terezin)

What did he eat for lunch
in the Lenin House, the SS headquarters,
at 1400, just after attending the morning
Einsatzkommando squad boys
taking turns to execute Jews near Minsk,
where reportedly brains splashed his face
and he turned a greenish shade of pale,
and hey! he told the boys there,
terrible it all might be,
even for him as a mere spectator,
how much worse it must be for them
to carry the killing out and
he could not see any way around it.
“And reportedly he came to the view that it would be
necessary to find a more suitable and effective
killing method that would not have
such a disheartening influence on the executors,
particularly with women and children among the victims.”
With what relish did he dig in his knife and fork? Was he
ravenous for lunch? With what eureka! This inspection trip—
the moment the gas chambers came into being.
With what hearty hale did he slug back his beer and lick his lips?

* Originally published in Wabash Watershed online mag.,2014

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Bonnie Maurer, MFA in poetry from Indiana University, author of “Reconfigured” by Finishing Line Press, 2009; “Ms Lily Jane Babbitt Before the Ten O’clock Bus from Memphis Ran Over Her,” Raintree Press and Ink Press (2nd edition),1979; “Old 37: The Mason Cows,” Barnwood Press, 1981; and “Bloodletting: A Ritual Poem for Women’s Voices,” Ink Press, 1983.

As a result of the 1999-2000 Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, she authored “The Reconfigured Goddess: Poems of a Breast Cancer Survivor,”2013.

Maurer’s poems have appeared in the New York Times, Indiana Review; Lilith, a feminist journal; Nimrod International Journal; Innisfree online journal; The Wabash Watershed online mag.; on the walls of Gallery 924: “The Contemporary Landscape Show, 2014”; on the ceiling of Indianapolis’ St. Vincent Hospital’s 6th floor and in the recent anthologies: And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana, (Indiana Historical Society, 2011); The Cancer Poetry Project: Poems by Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, (Fairview Press, 2001, 2013.)

Currently, Maurer works as a poet for Arts for Learning, as a copy editor for the Indianapolis Business Journal, and as an Ai Chi (aquatic flowing energy) instructor.

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Daniel Carpenter-

Blind Love
March 2011, After Fukushima

Lenten Sunday, Genesis the text,
naked couple dealt death in Eden for playing God;
our prayers for Japan, in Hell from His wrath
and in terror from its own creations —

the fragile Faustian nuclear ovens,
atom bombs of the target’s making,
seething to join their penitential ash
to the cloud that could reach this Garden

where my G.I. dad grunted into my clay
against the faint echoes of Hiroshima,
where I play Adam, split you beyond atonement
and we crunch the apple

_______________

Harry

He’s 85, thick, ruddy,
so far past that regal gig
— vice chancellor, SUNY —
he could just as well pass
for a retired shop foreman

he drops ponderous
names, titles, trends
into the conversation
lightly as a star waiter
warming up our coffee

a history maker
a history teller
he rose to importance
with his books, pluck, handshakes
but not to greatness

greatness he brought,
learned in the dawn
of a life pressed to the earth
of western Minnesota,
a grandmother’s battleground

“Tiny woman, tiny,
up every day before light,
caught the chicken, wrung its neck,
plucked it, had it cooked
by that same afternoon . . .”

for many years, he says,
she did it hunched over,
crippled by a falling windmill blade
and, till she took her rest at 92,
was never and always the same

_______________

For You

what is
our story
i asked
just read
she answered
i thought
i said
we were
writing it
how sweet
she laughed
it’s done
it’s here
look with me

the book
she held
was old
gilt-edged
and in Urdu
lovely tongue
only she
could speak
and could not
or would not
interpret

please heart
translate
her smile

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Other notable work by Ellen Foos and Vasiliki Katsarou.

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James Keane-

Bless

the home this house
becomes when brightened
by your love to withstand
the darkness only my eyes,
grown frightened, can hold
against your wishes. Bless all

trees and bushes
gracing the home this house
becomes when tended
with your love to withstand
love’s erosion only my anger,
grown distended, can mold
against your wishes. Bless your

heart’s flowing
warming the home this house
becomes when paned
by your love to withstand
love’s slowing only my heart,
grown self-contained, can uphold
against your wishes. Above all, bless your

soul’s knowing, no stranger
to the danger of my anger.
Brace the home this house
has become. Sprung
by your love to withstand
the death of my soul’s
knowing, growing no longer,

should it die
against your wishes.

_______________

From Where I Stood

the coiled cord
of the wall phone was
taut, a straight line
disappearing
down behind the counter
to – what? It was you
and resignation
slumped against the wall
in chorus
mouthing the name
of your brother – or was it you
and desolation, having
listened (hour upon hour)
to his wailing for
understanding, for
compassion, for
consolation
you will never
hear from him.

_______________

Nephew

A latch-key kid is not prepared to tread around
his robed mom, face a frozen yawn, dead

from self-infliction. Better to retrace your childhood
steps back through the door to the solid ground

of your childhood friends. Till the death you could not bear
was averted. But back inside again, you found your childhood

deserted. Youthful as your years were, they crawled, while
a new path to self-infliction cleared. Oh Danny, dead at 23,

what did you see

of beauty that makes a happiness of strife. Of peace that
happiness makes of life. Of love that living cannot touch

when living is too little, and too much.

Previously published in Gold Dust.

_______________

Hey, Hummingbird

Hey, hummingbird,
hovering, peering in
just outside my window
to life,
just be there when I need you,

where my sad son
can see you. Be tickled
your soundless whirring makes
him smile a little to fly
a little, forget to cry
alone, a little.
May he always know

he is good, and my prayer
through his window to life
be heard, and never misunderstood:

Keep him lovingly in your sights
all of my days, and all of his nights.

Previously published in my poetry chapbook, What Comes Next
(Finishing Line Press, March 2013).

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James Keane celebrated the publication of his first poetry chapbook, What Comes Next, in 2013 (Finishing Line Press). His poems have appeared in a number of online and print journals – most recently the East Coast Literary Review, The Bond Street Review, Out of Our, Scissors and Spackle, and the Tipton Poetry Journal – and in several anthologies, including The Harsh and the Heart: Celebrating the Military (Silver Boomer Books) and Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems (Ragged Sky Press).

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Ellen Foos-

Side Yard

When we tired of the backyard
there was the side yard,
accessory to our crimes,
a hideout, a conduit for racing
full circle around the house.
The best place to backtrack
when being pursued.

Lilac trees on the side
had a shaggy look.
It was easy to peek
into basement windows.
The neighbors were close
but never clear-eyed.

Corner lots expanded blandly,
we had two sharp corridors.
Here’s why I left New York City,
no side yard.
Who speaks of
the White House lawn
and thinks side yard?

When I lost my father,
I thought how it changed me,
the side yard I’ll never visit again,
the ladder he stored there.

_______________

Wreckage

Wherever they are recovered,
chunks of airplane parts
carry a weight never felt in midair.
What emergency measures can be taken
when all the fuel combusts—

it’s not printed on the card
in the pocket in front of you.
Best to cherish the small packet
of sweetly flavored peanuts.

Fish or flies may soon feed on you
while a flight list, perhaps even a plaque,
carries your name.

_______________

Fish Story

Flap they go and flip over.
All muscle and waterproof,
silent as the deep sea.
Keep them or clean them,
fry them or buy them a castle.
Pink gravel for a kitschy kingdom,
barbed hook for a pierced lip.
The wise ones grant wishes
or pretend to until they can escape.
The dumb ones try to blend in,
travel in schools.
You might teach one to play dead,
swallow one on a dare.
Repository for mercury,
taxidermied, legs tucked up.
Fantails in full bloom.

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Ellen Foos is a senior production editor for Princeton University Press. She is the founder and publisher of Ragged Sky Press and was the recipient of fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and the Vermont Studio Center. Her first collection of poems, Little Knitted Sister, was published in 2006 and her poetry has appeared in U.S.1 Worksheets, The Kelsey Review, Edison Literary Review, and Sensations Magazine.

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Vasiliki Katsarou-

Primary

The sun parted the painted clouds

rent a sun-sized hole
in my dingy tableau

a reality-hole

wiped clear years of hesitation
and tobacco smudge

So the dancers with red aprons,
stymied by music-less decades

gazed at the real sun in their artificial world
and lifted their skirts

to take one
tarantella step
forward

_______________

Elements

Light: first source
of fruit,

fruit: gifts of the tree
and the sea,

see, seek shelter in its shade

let shade scissor light
from dark

weave

we’ve a pattern
of these elements

and draw from them a home

dance in its shadow

Time
whirls
through us demi-
urgically

let the wind connect us
to the tree

let the rain connect us
to the sea

_______________

Unmined

Slate heaves forth
and sinks into earth

its layers unexposed
unslaked, unmined

Durable snow clings to slate
and burning lichen leaves
naked patches of dirt

Tiny twig etchings shiver
into reminiscences of summer

Durable snow wipes the slate clean
covers dung hills and all manner
of summer hiding places

Durable snow distills texture
from silence, adds the premonitory s
to s—
crunch—

provides a slick path through the treeline

(for Ellen Foos)

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Vasiliki Katsarou’s poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, Agave Magazine, Regime Journal, wicked alice, Press 1, as well as in the anthologies Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place and the forthcoming Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (NYQ Books). In 2014, she read her work at the Dodge Poetry Festival, the largest poetry festival in the United States. Her first collection, Memento Tsunami, was published in 2011.

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Other notable work by Cindy Stewart-Rinier.

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Gerry McFarland-

Gunner and Chuck Ride

After drinking all day, a drive-in movie
was dullsville, man, so we blew the joint
in my Volkswagen, swigged from the Buds
in the open case. Chuck said
let’s get the Harley, put the wind in our hair.
Far out, man, I said. Just the thing,
and I swung the bug down Strange Street
and stepped on it. Didn’t see the thick,
white-painted posts at the end of the road,
drove right between and swept
like an albatross down the steep,
wooded gut, blacked out, and stopped
at the trunk of a California oak.
When I came to, blood ran down
Chuck’s sleeping face. I touched the handle
and the door thumped the dirt and I fell out,
face up in the cool, soft soil and I dreamed
I was at sea, calm and slow in the dark
under stars and the swells whispered
like angels. I heard Chuck’s voice.
Glass still breaking.
One front tire wobbled cattywampus.
The black windshield gasket dangled
from a branch like a giant rubber band.
Then Chuck stood over me like a bloody vision
of mercy under heaven’s dark trees,
his face blood red and his lips moving.
I crawled on hands and knees
toward the white angels whispering
hymns from the top of the hill
until they grew silent and still,
but I could see them above me in white robes
not singing, looking down at me
crawling up toward them, but when I
reached them they had turned to wood,
flakes of white paint broken loose and falling.
I could still hear them, their many voices
thick and heavy, louder and louder.
Lights flashed, my hands disappeared
and the angels, now wearing black
with guns on their hips, put their hands on my head
and blessed me into the open seat
of the black and white car.
Chuck stood by a huge red truck. An angel
in white anointed his forehead. Lights
filled the forest, brilliant and splashing.
My throat burned, my head throbbed,
my stomach felt hard and sharp and I thought
I was going to be sick but only words came out
Swollen and thick: It’s alright, man,
I told them. You guys are doing your job.
I’m a drunk, and we’re all brothers.
I sat all night on a concrete floor,
gambled with cigarettes.
Released at dawn on my own recognizance,
an aimless boat, I floated to the shore of the first open bar.

_______________

Gunner’s Go-Go Girl Dream

She turns on the bar top,
face lifted to strobe-lit heaven,
eyes closed, the little hills

of her ankles fluid as the surf,
the mounds of her hips twin
atolls that narrow

to the peninsula of her bare
waist under spare dim
moons. She is a human

island in a long dark world
of spilled beer and glitter.
Her moon face up in lights,

tropical as sand.
Does she, her face like a moon
over the ocean, desire?

My heart is at sea, my rudder
shifts port to starboard,
rises and falls in the body.

The stars of her own island
planet blink. She dances
on the bar top long

as a dock, a harbor break
in the darkness, and we,
her supplicants like little gigs

at the toes of her pointed shoes
bob in her wind. The door
to the bar opens onto

Broadway, San Diego.
Horns crash, engines
throttle and light from headlamps

and streetlights reveal the bouncer,
bored, sober, slumped
on his stool, checking IDs
with a flashlight. I could leave,
unmoor from this dock. But the beer
is cold and all there is

on the street are the hawks
selling gilt-edged Bibles.
Here the light softens

on her skin, her hips
drift in the rhythmic tide,
and her long, dark, curled

hair falls on the swells
of her breasts and gleams like the moon
and stars on the surface

of a black sea on a clear night.
She dances in front of me,
looks down at me from the glory

of her painted face,
into my adoration,
and dawns into a smile

meant for me alone.
and I dream my hands on the wheel
of a red Stingray top down

and bound for Tijuana
her fingers in my hair,
adrift in the familiar wind.

_______________

Gunner Sweats The Small Stuff

The Secretary of the Navy flies into the Tonkin Gulf
by helicopter to inspect the USS King. I shine
the 50 mm machine gun, fool with the belt of casings

until the shells curve sweetly from the breach to the box
and paint the bulkheads until the insulation shines.
The Secretary strolls the deck and passageways smiling.

Disembarks in the helicopter his elbow like a swell
as he waves at the USS King, a bellyful of steel workings
and we desire nothing but a story with an end

when we gather, paint-spattered, on the messdecks for the movie:
Ride Beyond Vengeance, starring Chuck Connors. Absent
five years without a word to his woman, he squares his jaw

when he finds she’s married someone else. What now? He asks himself,
hand flat on his six-gun, hatches latched open, the Gulf
like new paint to the horizon and the moon a bright

running light on the dark bow of the sky. The projector stops.
Chuck’s lantern jaw twists sideways as the film dissolves.
Lights die out. Fresh paint in the passageways, executed

yesterday, bubbles, melts and stinks in the hot smoke
when the after fire room erupts in flame and the messdecks
flood in black and roiling clouds. We shout and beat it

drum the deck and rattle the ladders in our pounding run.
The USS King, dead in the water, groans like a man.
Burned mates stumble forward choking to their knees.

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Gerald McFarland’s work has appeared in Berkeley Poetry Review, Crucible, Zyzzyva, Limestone, Bayou, and many others. One poem, “Skipping Stones,” was published on the Washington State Poet Laureate website last year. McFarland is an editor at Floating Bridge Press in Seattle, graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Rainier Writers’ Workshop in 2011, and teaches writing at University of Phoenix.
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Cindy Stewart-Rinier-

Pre-K Pollock

To study Jackson Pollock with four-year-olds we say Action
Jackson then play Action Jackson our only instruction:
Today make your brush into a bird that cannot land.
All over the room tail feathers begin to dip and lift
dribble and flick paper recording twenty paths of exuberant
flight. Small paint balls and trailed lines confetti the air
then fall and cross and weave themselves into flattened
nests. All but two children know when to stop. One by one
they rise and drift off to the sink where they remove paint smocks
and wash their spattered hands. But Matthew whose lines
are tangled dense as bramble asks for more black.
All his favorite animals have sharp teeth and some mornings
he presses his face into his mother’s legs as if he might be
inching back inside her. And Amelia the girl who used to pool
white glue so deep the edges of her paper oyster shelled
around it as it dried can’t get enough color or resist
touching down. She wheels her bristles leaving scuff marks
of beating wings in poppy geranium red lime streaked with black.
When it’s time to clean up Matthew sulks himself into a corner
and Amelia sucks in her bottom lip refusing to hear.
And I wonder is it what we pursue or what pursues us that resists
ending? Or are passion and darkness simply twin engines
that drive the restless bird?

*This poem first appeared in Crab Creek Review, 2011, v. 2.
and was awarded their Editor’s Prize for that year.

_______________

Summer, When Green Turns
for Candy Rogers, 1950-1959

Hot enough to fry an egg in dirt,
the grown-ups say, their weeping
cocktail glasses in hand.

Craving glamour, my parents dance
through the summer of ‘64
at Nat Park where Tommy Dorsey plays,

Dad in his sports coat, Mom in her strapless
blue dress and matching stiletto shoes,
while we teeter on the fence, stay outside

past dusk, five kids playing barefoot
Kick the Can, one eye out for whoever’s it,
the other for the scary neighbor boy,

then piling into the living room just in time
to see Hitchcock’s shadow step into
his nine-line silhouette, his dead-pan intros

to steamy episodes served up with a violent
twist, the blue light of black and white
fictions we preferred over the real suspense

of not knowing whether Dad’s drunk
would be jolly or wake us from dreams
with his threats and Mom’s screams.

Then another morning, outside again,
squatting at the end of the driveway, stirring
puddles of oil spewed onto Assembly Street

by road crews, our heads filled with volatile
formulas, sex and violence fused,
the woods across the street giving us the creeps,

ponderosas dropping needles and cones, tear-shaped
pitch seeping in summer heat, where,
four years earlier, police finally found the body

of the missing Camp Fire Girl at the bottom
of the old quarry under a blanket
of pine duff, as if asleep.

*A slightly different version of “Summer, When Green Turns” first appeared in the 2014 Summer Issue of VoiceCatcher: a Journal of Women’s Voices and Visions.

_______________

After Three Angels Come to You in a Dream

Wingless, middle-aged, wearing winter
coats, the three of them have come to grant
one last embrace to the newly departed
husband of a friend, you, the apparent witness.

But before they exit, stage up, one angel turns,
breaks frame, and facing the lenses of your wide
eyes full on, speaks directly into them: You,
she says, I’ll see a year from now. A dissolve

to waking life, the breathing landscape
of your love’s soft, freckled shoulder now
resolving into focus. You finger the time
frame in the dark: if one last revolution

of earth around sun is all that remains,
what then, what? After breakfast and coffee
that morning, you find yourself suddenly stuffing
handfuls of millet into the pockets of your robe,

walking to the round, glass table in your backyard.
There, you lay out an orbital ellipse in yellow seed,
then retreat to a bench to watch the winged ones
swoop in, descend. You listen to them consume

those small representations of a year’s moments,
their tapping beaks sounding like a typewriter,
like rain, until, full enough, they rise to the ash
tree and convert it all into shit and song.

*A slightly altered version of “After Three Angels Come to You in a Dream” first appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of the Naugatuck River Review.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cindy Stewart-Rinier holds an MFA in Creative Writing from PLU’s Rainier Writing Workshop. Her work has appeared in such journals as Calyx, The Smoking Poet, Crab Creek Review, Ascent, Naugatuck River Review, and VoiceCatcher. She teaches Pre-Kindergarten and poetry writing workshops for the Mountain Writers Series in Portland, Oregon.

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_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robert McDonald-

Grandmother’s House

I thought the noise
was a grandchild
knocking,
open-handed
slap against

my rough wooden
door; I should have
heard the scrabble
where his claws
crossed the grain.

When I opened the door
and saw the wolf,
I was not
quick, though I wanted

to be quick.
My husband
built this house
to stand up
to wind and hurled

stones, to withstand
the scrape of yellow
teeth. I only had
to slam the door
and turn

the latch. I never
grow accustomed to
the gait
of this body, the slow
movement

of my angled
and bluing
feet. I fall
to the floor, the wolf
leans over me, his mouth

a raked tunnel
to a terrible
city. Once
I was the girl
who carried cake

to lonesome aunties,
skipping
all the way, once
I was the girl
with daisies

in her fists. It’s dark
in this chamber but
I know it must
be red. Death’s
wet, and red, and hot,

Death smells like
a sausage
shop.
In the closet
of the wolf,

his heart beats so loudly it
confiscates
my own. I wait
here the way
a little girl might

wait, after another child
closed her eyes
and started counting.
Inside the wolf I doze
and dream

of my mother: her breath
at the end
was a bird’s
breath. Her fingers,
like my fingers, turn in

to frightened sparrows,
I’m a flock of frightened sparrows,
mottled and still on
a night
with no moon.

_______________

Sleeping Beauty’s Younger Brother

I used to think that cursed was another word
for blessed. Beauty was cursed, everyone
knew it, and servants

swept each step in front of her
with nubbed cotton brooms.
One maid’s only job

was to check Beauty’s bed for spiders. My mother
kissed her twelve times each time
she left the room.

A partial list of what I could not carry near her
or let her see: nothing silver, or sharp,
no edges or blades, no cats,

birds, or scissors. No stones or shards, teeth or spikes,
no guitars or wind-up toy dragons. My parents
always spoke to her

in voices designed to mimic water. Beauty begged me,
once, to show her my pocket knife,
and when I did

she told our Father. I was chained in the root cellar
for the next three days, and oh, how
the kitchen boys laughed.

Beauty drank mulled wine, she smoked Uncle’s pipe,
she grew her fingernails long, as if she hoped
to slice her own

butter-soft palms. And when the Peddler’s Wife
pulled the spindle from its bag, Beauty’s eyes
caught the torchlight

like a pickpocket grasping small green gems. I don’t think
she truly believed in the danger. I don’t think she
wished for us a century of sleep,

Mother splayed in the throne room, footmen slumped
in doorways and various corners, Cook snoring
in the larder still clutching a spoon,

Father dozing wherever it is fathers go.
I only remember scraps of dream,
a bell choir of mice holding silver chimes, a moon

that sang an aria, the dark footman who asked me
to kiss him on the mouth. We stretch, we stir,
we wake from long slumber,

we hail our bad fate, and just as before
do everything, every god-damned
thing, every task for Beauty—

Our friends are gone, even the children
of our friends, while the years
stumbled forward. Our sleep ended

with a kiss that was not my kiss. And now
a Prince rules the country, my sister
is his bride. Just chopping apart

the thorny vines will be the job
of at least a fortnight.
Her Prince calls

for a squire at once to fetch a sword. Beauty
rings for Champagne, cheeses,
a late-season apple,

she licks her lips and whispers to me, “Now
bring me what I really want, a sharp
and pretty knife.”

_______________

Little Red (A poem in Seven Parts)

1. Begin
with an ax, once
part of a tree, a log
once part of a forest.
A house made of logs a man
with an ax a blanket
on the bed. That bed
made of sorrow, goose down,
and time.

2. Begin again. A man
made of wood in a house
cut from axes while the girl
on the bed pretends
she’s made of moonlight.
She’s cold and she’s lonely
but she’s not
made of moonlight.

3. In one version of the story,
the girl with the ax ties
the man to
the bed.

4. A quilt made of beards
is one
cover
for the bed. Silver

patches because I worry.

5. The wolf was lying in
the grandmother’s eyes the wolf
was lying in the grandmother’s ears that
wolf recumbent in the grandmother’s
bed that wolf liked
to chew on
her cold
slippered
foot.

6. Bring your sharp eyes and bring
your sharp ears and see
these small teeth and love
this soft bed, be knife
to my apple and butter
to my bread, knife
to red apple splash
of honey for
my bread.

7. When she gained
the asylum she
called it her
house. She said
to the nurse, “you

look like my mother.” She
said to
the bed sheets,
“I remember
snow and you
smell just like
snow.”

They told her each day
that the wolf was not
her brother. They told
her each day that she
would not need
her ax, nor
the pressed roses nor
the dry scraps
of fish that she kept
in a basket.

They told her that her grandmother
was long since
dead.

“Let me wear
my red dress”

is all she ever said.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robert McDonald‘s poetry and prose have appeared in Sentence, Court Green, and Escape Into Life, among many other journals and zines. He lives in Chicago, works in an independent bookstore, and blogs at http://livesofthespiders.blogspot.com.

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Masthead

Editor, Lisa Zaran

ISSN: 1095-732x

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2007

January - Roger Humes
February - Jimmy Santiago Baca
March - Graham Burchell
April - Ruth Daigon
May - Anne Fraser
June - Corey Mesler
July - Scott Malby
August - James Keane
September - Maurice Oliver
October - Robert Pinsky
November - Louis Daniel Brodsky
December - Bill Duvall

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2008

January - Kelley White
February - L. Ward Abel
March - Maura Stanton
April - Dr. Charles Frederickson
May - Peter Magliocco
June - Penny Harter
July - Gary Beck
August - Jéanpaul Ferro
September - Fish and Shushan
October - Kenneth Gurney
November - John Gallaher
December - Carmen Alexandra

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2009

January - Karen Rigby
February - A.D. Winans
March - Donald Illich
April - Stephen Ferreira
May - Tracee Coleman
June - Ernest Williamson
July - Sally Van Doren
August - Nanette Rayman Rivera
September - Gianina Opris
October - Judson Mitcham
November - Joel Solonche
December - Peycho Kanev

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2010

January - Louis Gallo
February - Buxton Wells
March - Labi Siffre
April - Regina Green
May - Howard Good
June - Carol Lynn Grellas
July - William Doreski
August - Sari Krosinsky
September - Ben Nardolilli
October - James Piatt
November - Robert Lietz
December - John Grey

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2011

January - Robert Philbin
February - iolanda scripca
March - Tad Richards
April - Katie Kopin
May - Jacob Newberry
June - George Moore
July - Rae Spencer
August - Jim Richards
September - Antonia Clark
October - Tannen Dell
November - Christina Matthews
December - Charles Clifford Brooks III

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2012

January - Anniversary Issue
February - Jim Davis
March - Ivy Page
April - Maurice Oliver
May - Lori Desrosiers
June - Ray Sharp
July - Nathan Prince
August - Robert Klein Engler
September - Jenn Monroe
October - John Grey
November - Andrea Potos
December - Christina M. Rau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2013

January - Maria Luisa Arroyo
February - Journal on haitus

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2014

April - Rebirth
May - Timothy Walsh
June - Brian Fanelli
July - Carol Smallwood
August - Elizabeth P. Glixman
September - Sally Van Doren
October - Sherry O'Keefe
November - Robert McDonald
December - Gerry McFarland

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2015

January - James Keane
February - Liza Hyatt
March - Joseph Reich
April - Charles Thielman
May - Norbert Krapf
June - Lynne Knight
July - Sarah Brown Weitzman
August - Tom Montag

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without permission in writing from the copyright owner/author. Any unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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