____________________________________________________________________

Domenic Scopa-

Seventh Birthday

What I remember is a worker falling
toward driveway asphalt,
muscled like my father,
paint can hurling from his grip
that loosened as the ladder lost
its footing on uneven earth.

What I remember
is the smooth arc cerulean made
and the way its spill formed
an almost-question mark
as if to mock the importance of celebration

_

Someday I’ll return to the place
depicted by my memory, overgrown
with carpetweed and hedges,
and abandoned,
and through the chipped cerulean
I’ll find the little closet
with my rumpled clothes,
and sit down, drinking nothing but
the musky air by the window,
and wait for my babysitter to finish
dressing, one pant leg, then the other,
and wait
until the atmosphere of the room
takes back the oxygen in the dawn,
and wait,
until each wrinkled crease
in the sweaters and khakis
is as smooth as childhood,
and wait-
At a certain time, that closet,
that room, that house,
will turn completely into sunlight.

_

I would pull my pants down
and listen for the faint zipper
on blue jeans, and…
the chance of maybe not this time
already gone-
fickle, oblivious, a hummingbird
launching off its branch
for another tree-
my hand hurrying to strip the T-shirt,
to get there,
that moment of undoing.

_

The roar of the worker’s howl,
and the complete uncertainty of cerulean,
as it curved and shimmered in the light,
and the inexplicable candor
which my babysitter
made his presence known,
then wiped his body with a rag-
were one-
the birthday, the nowhere, the nothing-
the perfectly baked cake
and the spilt paint’s sprawl.

_______________

Elegy for a Death In Utero

Before I crack open a beer,
my wife points out
the father digging holes
in the sand with his daughters,
who starts to cough
and clutch his chest, twisted
into suffering,
skin flushed and shocked-
I shouldn’t stop to watch
toddlers splash each other,
leaden risk of storm
taking baby steps forward
from the skyline,
until all wonder is erased.
The writhing freezes his family
under their umbrellas,
scared deaf
to my pleas
to call an ambulance,
clear the picnic basket
and the cooler away…
When I reach him
through a current of panic
he’s not breathing-
he’s blue-
I can’t stop shaking
to plant my palms
on his chest,
which like a cedar barrel holds strong
until I begin compressions…
But he’s still the pale cobalt sheen
of the suffocated,
and clouds have blurred the sun,
murky light swirling
around us
as I try to jump
the motor of his body,
heart’s sporadic wheeling and wheeling
a cruel continuation
of a stubborn will,
and I believe he’ll die,
and I drown in my failure too,

until he swims back…
and stares around the beach,
as if in an afterlife,
with his family, only strangers,
repeating his name
over and over-
their syllables gathering little
of what’s left
in the way of sunlight.

_______________

Photo of an Excavated Grave
Time Magazine, Guatemala, 1998

The young man just kneels
by the grave,
looking down.
His elbows relaxing
on his bare thighs.
He is wearing
only ripped khaki shorts
and a stained white tank-top
that doesn’t cover his beer belly.
They hardly comfort his flesh,
which fails with tears.
And his face, illuminated
by festive candles that fence the grave,
is silent like any photo-
like the stark, bare bottom
of an airplane cruising overhead,
blinking with its crucifix of strobes,
though there are no airports
for hundreds of miles.

I can only imagine
the abundance of lime trees
that border the field,
their ripe fruit-little traffic lights
at crossings-which seemed
to signal go to whomever
ordered the extermination of the village.
When surviving families visit
they must see the same green,
bright and flagrant,
in the rare spots of saw-grass
breaking through the soil, there,
where their relatives
have been forced to sleep.
Usually the bones aren’t found.
The land never cares
who tends for it, or why.

Does the man think of farmland,
of tilled rows ready
to be seeded?-
But, he’s maybe only twenty,
too young to own a farm,
too young to search
until the Guatemalan ground
gives back his family.

He never stirs, never moves.
And now it’s too late for him.
No one, surely not me,
flipping through the glossy pages
of this magazine,
full sunlight flooding through
locked windows,
understands why he’s kept on
kneeling there for twenty years-
Alone, half his body
almost cut out from the photo.

_______________

Old Town Square, Prague

When I make it to him-
strolling past
hand-sculpted mannequins suspended
behind storefront windows-
the overdosed homeless man
looks like a mystic dreaming
that his jar has grown full.
It took only seconds-
seeing him there,
syringe still stuck
in his forearm,
and brown-bagged fifth of whiskey
spilling its comfort
all over the cobblestone sidewalk-
to plunge back down the chasm
of my animal anger…
I’m sick of the drugs,
the addicts scrounging
on the corners of the seedy districts,
outstretched palms turned up
as if to receive Eucharist,
the squalid sidewalks,
the fleshy pigeons refusing to fly.
I am sick
of the spirit of sympathy over everything,
that pleasure in sharing,
that religious understanding of pity-
I am going to be unmoved by the addict’s death…
and stare into his face,
and walk away…
I am not going to stand
in the frantic crowd,
with the rubberneckers
and self-proclaimed paramedics,
and celebrate the camaraderie
and silence,
and lose myself
in the immortal tendency to cling-
Still, my hands are a little shaky
from his stiffness,
and my eyes have to blink away
the sight of his curved fingers,
and unkempt beard,
his brunette curls lifted by a breeze.

____________________________________________________________________

Domenic Scopa is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. His poetry and translations have been featured in Poetry Quarterly, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, and many others.

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Paul Lubenkov-

THE  SOWER

Oh! those who don’t believe in
this sun here are real infidels.
–Vincent Van Gogh

There is no brighter sky.  Deep
And wide, these colors reach
Beyond themselves,  each short
Stroke of speed assaulted
By light until it must burst
And the trembling land glow
Beneath this magnificent sun.
What more could there be?  What man
Could resist the power here, the air
Of imminent explosion?  And yet,
Toiling in the right foreground,
This wooden-shoed peasant,
His head too large, his arms
Too short, and on his face
A look of angry desperation,
Does not sow this ground
With the proper reverence.
Scattering an apronful
Of seed in an act of what
Appears to be spastic
Convulsion, he strides toward
Something out of sight.
His hat low on his neck, he is leaving
Behind him that sun, that sky,
The half-sowed fields as if
He imagined he could somehow
Abandon them, escape to some
Other place where he could teach
His shadow to believe in something
Anything except this impossible sun.

_______________

WHAT  THE  HOROSCOPE  SAID

For George Garrett

Maintain your balance:  avoid the new,
Forget the old.  When the telephone rings,
Study the hollow sound of air.
Waving the loud flag of love,

A mysterious woman shall enter your life.
It will be too late.  Remember the mailman,
And spend some time resisting pain.
The silence of wisdom is everywhere;

Bite your tongue and listen for fools.
Enjoy whatever pleasures you can,
But avoid the night, all those trees
Shaking their arms of dark thunder.

With luck, you will keep one jump ahead
Of whatever is always somewhere behind,
So forget that hand, that web of bone
Scratching its way across your wall.

The sun will set and nothing will happen.
The moon will rise and nothing will change.
A blind man will bring you a terrible gift,
And you will remember what you tried to forget.

_______________

LES FAUVES: RADICAL INVENTION

It has bothered me all my life that
I don’t paint like everyone else.
— Henri Matisse

But, the color ! Your brilliant color!

Slabs of aromatic blue ,
Stripes of iridescent green,
Goldfish struck like stamped medallions
Suspended in a bowl of ether.

You opened windows to bold cathedrals,
Moroccan landscapes redolent with spice,
Aberrant hues and the falling light
That bleaches color and flattens form.

Your loving and confident hands caressed
Breath to canvas. Languorous nudes
Embrace their moment as eyebrows evolve
Curving to aquiline nose, just so.

Carving with color, your brushstrokes stung,
Left Salon dandies dazed and dumb,
Eyeballs scorched to the light.

That mystic beard you wore with such grace
Did not muffle your growls for perfection. And what
Dull brute dare tame this delicate beast?

_______________

GHOST TOWN

In deserted houses, floorboards speak
For the strangest reasons.  When shutters bang
Or an unwatched door suddenly swings shut,
We say it is the wind when there is
No wind.  Birds, rats, shifting foundations.
We are quick with answers that keep the peace,
But who can be sure?  On every wall
Moonlight illuminates subtle designs
And these patches of light survive us to say
The past does not die.  We let it escape.

_______________

WHAT MY GRANDMA SAID

From a Czech proverb

No matter how sad
Do not trust the man
Who never wants to sing.

He will bore you to death
With the speech of the deaf
And your ears will turn to stone.

_________________________________________________________________

After a lengthy career as an executive with Eastman Kodak and Fuji Photo Film, I have returned full circle to my first post graduate job: College Instructor. Although it is certainly intimidating to return to the classroom, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to give back.

Poems recently published and accepted for publication in The Sierra Nevada Review, The Stillwater Review, The Outrider Review, River Poets Journal, Falling Star Magazine, and The Tule Review.

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____________________________________________________________________

With other notable work by Lukas Guard and Allison Boyd.

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Caleb Coy-

PILGRIM

This pilgrim, like all pilgrims,
Like all grasping lunatics and unexceptionals
Finds it difficult for you to accept me.
Old Hat, New man, all that.

My tail is writhing at the faintest glimmer of your perfection.
You pulled back the curtain
And supped with a stranger.

In addition to the gift, I beg you go with me.
I am made of sensitive material now
But I’m straining to train myself.

Blood leaves the body red, and then goes rusty with age.
People want to know how and when they will die.
I ask how and when they will live.
The pilgrim is dead. Long live the pilgrim.

_______________

CONTOURS

You’ve traversed the straights, the belly of the beast
Been dumbfounded by instinct, by agony, you’ve
Been Suppressed, you’ve buckled under pressure.

Have you seen the shape of things?
Are you as malleable as you seem?
Could I preserve you like taxidermy?

Following the precedence of your form
Even the ashes of you would fit well
The contours of an urn.

_______________

HAPPY HOUR

We are living, we have an itch to scratch
This is why you put on your face before going out
Before going to and fro, here and there, out for a good time
Relieving ourselves of the agony of waiting for a good time.

You are a mirror I learn myself in
This moment is an opportunity
Optimist and pessimist, believer and fearer
It is I who decided to call you up.

Welders wear their masks in the sparks
So must we, together, calculated
Wounded together, to have a moment
And reverse it, until last time we met.

Waiting for a spine-shattering breakthrough
|I absolve your vices, I indulge in your virtues
I refuse to hear from you any lamentations
The atmosphere will have our focused attention.

You are beautiful in that dress, in this place, at this hour
I feel wedded to this hour, we could die in this hour
The weight of the day is a letter to us
Blown away on that napkin just now.

Our visage will alter for the better
In tomorrow’s glory, so let us adjust
The taste of life accordingly
Let us not hide our scar tissue.

In this light, at this table, at this hour
And in that dress. In. That. Dress.
You are transubstantiated to the you I will know forever
Sitting here with you, at Happy Hour.

Sitting here with you, at Happy Hour
We are two parts in a theater scene
And we will soon be in a boat
Sailing to our next alibi.

____________________________________________________________________

Caleb Coy holds an MA. in English from Virginia Tech. He lives in Christiansburg, VA with his wife and son, and teaches English in the town of Narrows. Caleb has been previously published in Geez Magazine, Brain of Forgetting, and Haiku. His debut novel, An Authentic Derivative, was self-published in 2015.

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Lukas Guard-

Mario’s Cinquain

Dirt road
Treadwheel pattern
Pushing the pedals down
Rubber stencils rolling up hill
Make art

_______________

Mario’s Pantoum

A long bike up the countryside
Just to deliver the mail
But I want so much more in return
To learn how to tell about my countryside ride

Just to deliver the mail
I ask for so much more
To learn how to tell about my countryside ride
Through metaphor and rhyme

I ask for so much more
To show her how I feel
Through metaphor and rhyme
I deliver her so much more

_______________

Mario’s Villanelle

I went fishing with my father
We caught nothing
And I threw up

He doesn’t speak much
But when he does, he says I need to work
I went fishing with my father

I tell him I hate just think about fishing
So, he told me a story about fishing
And I threw up

I met the beautiful Beatrice today
But had no money to impress her
I went fishing with my father

I bought her a gift and wrote her a poem
I opened my mouth to read to her
And I threw up

Beatrice won’t see me anymore
And I no longer have anything to live for
I went fishing with my father
And I threw up

____________________________________________________________________

Lukas Guard is a youth minister and homeschool instructor, and is in the process of completing a Masters degree in counseling. He enjoys reading, writing, listening to really good stories, and teaching young people. He lives in Lakeland, TN with his wife, Ashton, and newborn son, Hudson.
Lukas credits his brother, grandfather, an Italian postman, and a pony-tailed bearded writing teacher for inspiring him to write.
The above submission was inspired by Michael Radford and Massimo Troisi’s film, Il Postino: The Postman.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Allison Boyd-

Sunrise #135

A lavender sky looms over a lake. The half-moon’s still out. Twilight retreats east, affronted by the garish green of grass trapped under artificial light.

At six, through the mist, a red fox.

_______________

Sunrise #137

Dawn is a soft, weighted, faultless hello (the way-crossing you both could feel coming) from over great distance. At noon, we’re miles closer, with all secrets told. No one looks straight into the thing so forbiddingly fiery and high; no one whispers.

_______________

Sunrise #146

One swath of the still sky is lavender. Geese from the far pond, far because we cannot see it from here, bellow, air pumping from the goose abdomen, out the goose throat. I hear the far traffic—far because its roaring is muted by damp air and by its own sparsity. Each standing thing, entering light, gains its own shadow.

____________________________________________________________________

Allison Boyd Justus grew up in the shadow of Ben Lomand Mountain in Warren County, Tennessee. She doesn’t live there anymore, but some of her poems do. Allison’s writing can be found in electronic and print publications, including Madcap ReviewEunoia ReviewQuailBell, and Calliope. The collection Solstice to Solstice to Solstice is forthcoming from Alternating Current Press.

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____________________________________________________________________

Other notable work by Anthony Gornic.

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Molly Cappiello-

Big Muck

Go past the cull piles
behind Viganeri’s barn
and as far north
as Transit Road takes you,
where gravel gives way to weeds
and kill deer cease
their motherly screeching.

The rambling drone of
thunder three counties over
and the too close quibbling
of insects fighting for the
biggest piece of
hard-to-scratch pie
fill this horizontal chasm.

The harvester cannot
reach this far for fear of
getting stuck and
I find myself relating to
machinery.

Dead ends
do not stop only tires.

_______________

Georgia O’Keefe: Cow Skull

Georgia, Georgia,
tell me how your
garden grows-
from bones,
seeds of flesh and
personality,
little doe-eyed
brown cow,
now empty sockets
staring beside
the desert daisies,
nurtured by
still life hands,
placed lovingly
alongside
death in the
New Mexico sand.

_______________

Hard Places

It’s a bomb with two red wires,
nightmares in midwinter Alaska,
endless—

the phone ringing at 3 am and
screeching tires when the dog’s
escaped the leash.

It’s a handstand with your ankles
bolted to the ceiling
blood rushing.

A cherry that’s all pit,
a hangnail down to the knuckle.

It’s the bottom of the stairs,
5 seconds from the top
instead of the usual 46

and being on the wrong
side of a locked door,
outside a window
only open to let you
hear the glass smashing
into the sink.

These are hard places
but you are the rock.

_______________

Call Your Father

Lying supine on the back
deck I observe the old dairy
wind chimes,
iron heifers herding themselves
with tiny clangs.

It was a going away present
from my father,
hooks in the wall
holding a mobile of my
aspirations and his faith,
catching the breeze to
remind me of the things
I haven’t done
these five years since.

Mosquitos outnumber
fireflies here like an
aviary irony,
driving me back indoors
to a waiting telephone.

_______________

Fiddle Thrums Speak Louder Than You Ever Did

Rolling chords
crawl up from
the stage,
calming the tremors
in my chest and
putting Sisyphus
and his boulder to shame.

They quiet the
things I spend
my days running
against and away from,
an uphill creep
whose mark of progress
is a stagnant
“I’m still alive.”

But you,
selfish man,
with an Ellis Island
hand-me-down
so close to mine
made it more.

Sandpaper voice,
you softened my edges
but left before
the finished product.

____________________________________________________________________

Molly Cappiello is a graduate of the Creative Writing program at the State University of New York at Oswego where she was editor and treasurer for the college’s literary magazine, The Great Lake Review. Her concentration is in poetry and non-fiction with which she would like to continue a career in publishing and editing.

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Anthony Gornic-

Take Two

I sit face to face
with Lazarus discussing
second chances

I belittle him
for not working
for his

For simply
waking
into it

For receiving a
gift that
was unearned

_______________

Wake Up

I stared out
the window as
the sun began to rise

The lawns green grass
glistened in its
warm welcoming wake

Sending a message
to all onlookers
spring has arrived

____________________________________________________________________

Anthony Gornic graduated from SUNY Oswego in August of 2015. He currently lives in a small town outside of Albany with his pug and two cats. When he is not writing he can be found hiking the many mountains of New York.

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Other notable work by Charles Fishman and Norbert Krapf.

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Sheri Vandermolen-

Artful Garden

The Picasso heads
perched, boldly,
atop bird-of-paradise stems
wear their blue eyes
on the side of their angular
orange noses, maroon chins,
satisfied with their askew
view of the burgeoning world.

All the while,
the eccentric heliconias
suspend static, multi-lipped
Chagall smiles,
in brilliant vermilion,
from their waxy green aspects,
parasoled by big-top fronds
that shelter them
from the silvery notes
dripping off the bow
of the blue-sky violinist.

Although the sunflowers’
saw-toothed girasoles
and desiccated stalks
were tilled up ages ago,
their nutrients still infuse
the fertile soil,
out of which grow
stalks of Matisse bamboo.

Fluidly mercurial,
their paper-cutout leaves stir,
in the slow breeze,
dancing, with fragile unawareness,
to music of the spheres,
even as waning day
daubs a Miro-red orb
upon the western horizon.

Old-school points of view
glibly espoused by day-Jatters
wither on the vine,
while wilting cubes of time
theatrically scatter their pollen
into surreal expanses
of the twilit post-modern sky.

_______________

Ganesha Chaturthi

A Macy’s-sponsored gay-pride parade
would be tragically subdued,
in comparison to the pageantry created
by the legionary rows of rainbow-boisterous idols
stationed, under makeshift tarp-tents,
in prodigious Pottery Town.

Ranging from a few centimeters
to nearly five meters high,
the playfully vivid Ganeshas (Ganeshi?)
loom in numerous plaster-of-Paris poses —
sitting, standing, leaning, twisting
in dreadlocked, crowned, turbaned forms
of Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna,
Sai Baba, Gandhi, Chhota Bheem,
Tarzan, possibly Yoda too.

The craftsmen spend nap-inducing hours
applying layers of neon basecoats, glazes,
hand-painting Ganesha’s trunk, ears, nails,
with glittery accents and Om symbols,
laboring to perfect their masterpieces,
which customers size up, admire, haggle over,
then cart to their homes, for worship.

Days later, the statues boomerang back
to Ulsoor Lake, just a few streets away.

The fenced perimeter is brimming with devotees,
each family performing a lush puja —
burning incense, smearing kumkum powder,
sprinkling coconut water,
offering ghee, fruits, and flowers —
before handing off the smiling elephant god
to an eager-grabbing orange-vested city worker,
who steps knee-, thigh-, waist-deep, into the flow,
dunks the statue, ritually, and then casts it adrift,
returning with a tray of the now-blessed water.

Processions of six, ten, twenty, more,
chant “Ganapati Bappa Morya,”
whistling, pumping their fists, and beating drums
as they haul large statues through the side gate,
while police clear paths, usher the groups
to a metal platform dangling from a crane,
so that their multimeter sculptures
can be placed on the tilting edge,
swung to the basin’s hazel-hued center,
and then ceremoniously tipped into the depths.

As night dilates, activity reaches fever-pitch,
with carnivaled sound-and-sight delights
caroming in every frantic direction —
auto-rickshaws disgorging eight customers at a time;
families posing for phone photos;
posses of children coursing through,
waving their arms, roaring their joy,
smiles gleaming through their face-paint;
vendors roasting corn, stringing jasmine garlands,
selling heart-cluster hydrogen-filled balloons;
news crews conducting TV and print interviews.

The crowd disperses, upon city curfew,
leaving the chemical-laden god figures
to dissolve into cadmium and mercury plumes,
which diffuse throughout
the heady waters of the vast tank.
The pollution is an obstacle left for Ganesha to question.

_______________

Harmony

February 2, 2014, U.S.A.:
Coca-Cola airs its daring game-day ad —
sixty diversity-embracing seconds,
featuring a gay couple
and a seven-language take
on iconic “America, the Beautiful,”
penned by Katharine Lee Bates,
who shared twenty-five years
with life-partner Katharine Coman.
Reaction is swift and harsh,
the tweets derisive, bitterly divisive.

February 2, 2014, India:
Bright-tipped wicks
send their illuminated dirge to the night sky,
in remembrance of Nido Taniam,
a young Arunachal Pradesh student
who was beaten to death,
January 29,
with sticks and iron rods,
by five men who mocked his hair, his style,
his very face, into which they hurled
their bruising racial taunts.

The world awaits the day
we’ll stand in perfect harmony.

_______________

Into the Slipstream

Pulsating constellations
fade into esoteric black-drop,
rendered androgynous, darkling,
by the implausibly bright moon,
even as ageless silver stardust
falls from the milky slipstream,
drifting into the nebulous musings
of the anonymous few
who night-stroll the banks
of the shimmering Kabini River.

_________________________________________________________________

Sheri Vandermolen is editor in chief of Time Being Books. From 2008 to 2014, she resided in India, exploring the subcontinent via camera and pen until her repatriation to California. Her verse has appeared in various journals, including Ashvamegh, Camel Saloon,Contemporary Literary Review India, Earthen Lamp Journal, Foliate Oak, Muse India, Jersey Devil Press, Papercuts, Taj Mahal Review, and Verse-Virtual, as well as in the anthology Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women.

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Charles Fishman-

Through the Ice, 1953
in memory of Skipper Broich

I think of you now: how your short life ended,
as if on schedule. While you lived,
something invisible seemed to batter you —

a demon or force field that smashed you
against every wall. Yet it’s not the car crashes
or concussions I recall

but a scene, like a circle of ice, sawn
from the frozen past, its edges jagged, its hues,
even then, minimal, now bleached to a dwindling fire

of colors. Do you remember how you almost died

late on that winter evening? how the thin crust
of blacker ice broke under you

and you dropped in the dark so deep on your downward journey?
We’d been coasting all day on some white-dark hill
between trees that brushed our faces

and were walking quickly toward the shortcut
through the woods that lay on the bank of the lake
we trekked over like travelers in the Arctic.

In our triple-knotted boots, our wool scarves
and scuffed bomber jackets, we trudged toward home,
toward the dim light over familiar doorways

and the rich aromas of food our mothers cooked
at the first tinge of twilight. The January sun sank
in slow gradations, each slight hint of darkening a tick

on the clock of childhood. Skipper, you must have been
more hungry, more tired, or just plain younger,
and ran ahead of us to where the thin fabric of ice

ripped into sheer strips of translucent frost.
Shocked to stillness, we held back, then rushed
to where you’d vanished and then returned.

It must have been your brother who calmed you,
who begged you to settle deeper into coldness,
to trust his high and broken voice. Yes,

it must have been Dave who promised
we’d rescue you, who slid his Red Ranger sled
into that gaping hole in the universe

where it found your hands.

_______________

Paul Granger’s Wound

You were the smallest, Paul —
the shortest, leanest, blondest, bravest
in our crew — and you have retreated less far
into darkness. I remember the day
that would etch your wound into my mind,
each catch and notch of memory glistening
with your blood. There was bright sunlight
and deep blue sky a blaze of white roses
and the dark gray haze of the new state road
the highway commission had bulldozed
into our lives.
You were wearing a round-necked
polo shirt and rolled-up jeans, a black leather belt
and high-backed sneakers. Zigzag stripes crested
on your chest in vertical waves that flowed
from neck to groin: a map of some watery terrain
no friend or parent could decipher. I remember
how the dark blue denim rippled over your thighs,
the lapping rivulets at your knees, the way
your gold-brown hair was parted.
At our water hole
between parkway and woods, your clothes dropped off
and you dove into the cold spring water all of us knew
to be sacred: a dark pool released from the dictates
of nature where we could breathe without constraint
without the harsh odor of fear stinging our nostrils.
You dove and we cheered, living for the moment
in the rare oxygen of the underlife you had plunged into
feeling again the icy waters of time wash over us.

And then you broke the spell, bursting the surface
as you held up your hand, gashed open with that raw
diagonal slash that even now, five decades later,
wildly pulses — that wound written deep in your flesh
with the jagged edge of glass from a smashed beer bottle —
your ruined hand held up for us to witness
in all its bloody splendor your wound, Paul: the sky
ripped open just when we needed it whole.

_______________

My Father on a Sled, Smoking
winter 1953

There he is on the sled, which is parked
on the front lawn. He’s going nowhere fast,
yet the reins are in his hands — no, not
the reins but the rope this small vehicle
is towed with. And he’s a happy man —
anyone who motors by can see that:
the way he sits erect, his knees jutting
but not quite skyward, his feet in rubber
boots, jammed to the rudder and ready
to steer. The weather is mild and clear.

Now look at the lit cigarette that droops
from his lips that resist speaking, at his
ungloved hands that revel in their strength
and will not heed the cold. My father
is not yet old though, unknown to him,
he is dying: if he continues to smoke
like this, his lungs will wither and blacken
his hands fall open in his lap. Though the day
is frozen in memory, his world is rushing
forward. Father, this is no time to relax.
Stand up now: you need to wrest control

from this poisoned future. Pitch the fresh pack
hidden in your jacket into the glitter of ice
and snow. Take off your cap and let it go.
Breathe in the sweet chill of this undreamt of
moment when life offers you a choice. Father,
listen to my voice that calls out to you
across the snow-bound void: you will swerve
at the last jolting second, and death’s branches
will scar your face but, five decades later,
you will sit, knees wrapped in a white wool blanket:
a dear scared frail old man, dozing to Frank Sinatra
and almost at peace as sleep drags you down.

_______________

She Remembers Winter
for Kathleen Horan

1
She remembers the overpass
along Sunrise Highway
where she would sled all day
with friends in that winter
of 1970: how the sled would freeze
in late December coldness
making it hard to steer, the way
her feet extended over the wooden slats
and her stomach and chest pressed
flat to them so she could breathe
only in shallow gasps as the wet snow
raced under her, how she would put
her whole being into turning
as momentum built and each small
adjustment became necessary.

She remembers that downhill rush
as her first lesson in freedom:
how her heart raced with the sled
and beat with a frantic pleasure
that opened gates inside her.
It was heaven to let go, to feel
briefly supported yet unable
to control speed or direction,
to be lifted in a gentle rocking flow
or bumped along roughly
but released from confinement
and stricture, bruised and cold
but brushed with glittering whiteness.

She remembers how she played
all day with friends that winter
at ease with herself and the weather,
proud of her white snow jacket and its
black buckles, in love with her
stocking cap and its rainbow colors,
and at one with the fleece-lined boots
whose scuffed toes she dug
into the hard-packed snow: how
the boots, cap and jacket — and cupfuls
of hot chocolate — had kept her
from totally freezing.

2
It all comes back like a rush
down a long white hill and she
remembers, two decades later,
mothering her own children
as if they’d been precious jewels
she’d misplaced in winter snow,
as if they’d been snow angels
whose ice-cold toes and fingers
she would hold to her racing heart
to her stove-warm body.

_______________

Forgotten Songs
for Glory Sasikala Franklin

1
What links us together? Isn’t it untrammeled
energy, affinity, green shoots of the body?

Not long ago in India, the rare home radio
marked the passing of time. In Kolkata,
you had a small Telerad with a winking green eye
and started each day with the All Asia Service
of the Sri Lanka BC. At noon, you’d switch
to Burma Broadcasting and listen for a single
delicious hour, then jump to Yuvavani in Calcutta
for Lunch Time Variety.

The day would fly like that: to Vividh Bharati
for Hindi songs, then back to Yuvavani again.

Never mind the distances: each station zinged in
with true fidelity, so that Cliff Richard, John Denver,
Glen Campbell, the Everly Brothers, Elvis, George Baker,
and Susan Raye all seemed to sing just for you.
Their voices spilled into your body and took up residence there.

Your favorite was Pussycat’s “Broken Souvenir”
and you still hum that song. And you still hear “Listen
to the rhythm of the falling rain . . .” You, too,
are on your own again. “Good evening, sorrow.”

2
Glory, you were so taken by the radio’s power,
by the songs that poured from it, you named your daughter
“Rimona” after Wolfe Gilbert’s “Ramona,” respun
by the Blue Diamonds in 1960. Remember the Carpenters’ song,
“Those were such happy times / And not so long ago”?
For you “Every sha-la-la-la, / Every wo-wo-wo /
Still shines.”

3
Before he died, your father taught you songs
and had you sing the words while he strummed his guitar.
You were not yet ten, but not a nerve in your body
has relinquished them.

There was “Lonely Cowboy,” “Goodbye Hawaii,” “Oh, Susannah”
and “Queen of My Heart.” Your father was gone too early,
but you recall each tune. “Beautiful dreamer,” he sang, “wake
unto me, / Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee.”

And you sang along with him.

_________________________________________________________________

Charles Adès Fishman is poetry editor of PRISM: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators. His books include Mortal Companions (1977); The Death Mazurka (1989), an American Library Association Outstanding Book of the Year; Chopin’s Piano (2006); Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust (2007), his world-renowned anthology; In the Language of Women (2011); and In the Path of Lightning: Selected Poems (2012). He is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of English & Humanities in the State University of New York.

Note from the author: Since Time Being Books is folding in December, and will not be replenishing stocks for online booksellers or distributors, readers who are interested in purchasing a copy or two of In the Path of Lightning may not be able to find it. I encourage readers to contact me if they would like signed copies of the book. The easiest way to reach me is via my main email address: carolus@optimum.net.

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Norbert Krapf-

Last Sunset: Ida’s Father Ben Hagan, Jr.
Is Buried in the Pinkston Cemetery

On November 30, 1939, Matt Durcholz
borrowed two white horses from neighbors
and hitched them to Ben Hagan’s spring wagon
from which he had sold vegetables in Huntingburg

and Ferdinand. Matt and his son Raymond rode
on the wagon carrying Ben’s wooden casket,
followed by Larkin Pinkston, friend and brother-in-law,
on foot behind, to the cemetery on the knoll bordered

by cedar trees. Following them also were black relatives
from near Dale and Grandview on the banks of the Ohio.
“It was a blustery day,” Matt said. “Even the rabbits
were in their holes.” Ben’s relatives sang “Last Sunset”:

Nighting as the day ends
take it slow as we can.
You never know it might be
The last sunset we’ll ever see.

Ben and Matt had hunted many hours together,
Matt said, and Ben taught him how to plant
watermelons “by punching the seeds in the right
kind of soil.” This was the end of the Settlement.

Nighting as the day ends
take it slow as we can.
You never know it might be
The last sunset we’ll ever see.

Some of the residents worked for the Airline Railroad,
laying the tracks for the first train from Rockport
to Ferdinand Junction at Johnsburg, not far
down the road from St. Henry where my father

was born and grew up. Ben’s friend and brother-in-law
Larkin Pinkston tried living in a house left standing
in the Pinkston Settlement but grew too lonely
to stay and moved to the Providence Home, Jasper.

And all I possess
Blows away in this wind.
And as I came in
So I’m leaving.

Larkin died in the Providence Home in 1940.
Matt Durcholz bought Ben’s property and most
of what was the Pinkston Settlement is now
part of the Huntingburg Conservation Club.

Larkin was buried in the old Jasper City
Cemetery overlooking the Patoka River.
Even the rabbits stayed in their holes.
It was a cold and blustery day.

Nighting as the day ends
take it slow as we can.
You never know it might be
The last sunset we’ll ever see.

_______________

Ida and a Gemini Twin

Ida, I have learned you share a Gemini
birthday with a man who has devoted
his life to starting over, being reborn,
to making himself find new ways

and means of expression as a songwriter,
of pushing himself beyond where
the familiar no longer satisfies. In your
seventies, you must have been aware

of his prophetic cry that the times
were changing, that a new order
was raging, that the executioner’s
face is always well hidden and asked

how many roads a man must walk
down before they call him a man,
before he turned his attention
to the inner life of the individual

self and spiritual growth, a Jew
who converted to Christianity
thereby alienating his followers
for not the first or last time ever.

Did you hear him sing in the mountains
that he saw his life come shining,
from the West down to the East?
If so, this song must have sounded

familiar to a woman who grew up
in a Freedom Settlement, pushed
herself to new levels of achievement
and accomplishments, learned a new

language, converted to a new faith,
learned how to help people heal,
moved on and away from where
she grew up, became a city girl

who devoted herself to helping
her people while remaining true
to the call of the life of the spirit.
You must have heard him ask

how it feels to be on your own,
no road left to lead you back home.
If you didn’t listen to his songs,
you must have been aware that

she who’s not busy being born is busy
dying, as you were ever being born
and reborn, ever striking out anew,
pushing onward to new possibility.

_______________

Hearing the Blues in the Pinkston Cemetery

When I look at this light
falling on the broken stones

meant to mark the lives
of those whose names

are lost to us now I hear
Jimmie Duck Holmes

thumb and pick his thumping
blues with a deep bass line

and sing in the high and lonely
Bentonia style about how one day

he’ll grow old, though we know
his primal blues will never die.

I savor this light that shines
in these far woods where

the Pinkston Settlement once was,
a few miles from where my father

grew up but which I did not know
about as it was deserted a few years

before I was born. Jimmie sits
on a plain old chair in front of

a back door swung and propped open
as the sunlight comes in and kisses

his guitar as both the guitar and his voice
keen, keen the primal songs that spill out

of him nonstop in his Blue Front Café.
Ida Hagan, I would listen with you

here in the woods as Jimmie plays
and sings the Mississippi hard-time

blues that keep coming out of him
from the same spot where my brother

and I once sat listening to him
make his music as we sipped beer

and late afternoon sunlight light
came to play on our faces,

as we three sat on the front porch
and he played his Epiphone and sang

with light sinking into evening as the sun
set and a train passed us by on the tracks.

_________________________________________________________________

Norbert Krapf, former Indiana Poet Laureate, lives in Indianapolis. His latest
of eleven poetry collections, is Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet’s Journal of Healing and
this year his prose memoir, Shrinking the Monster: Recovering from Clergy Abuse,
appears this year. Norbert believes that song and poetry are kissing kin and he has
been in love with the blues for about fifty years.

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______________________________________________________

Linne Ebbrech-

______________________________________________________

Returning

I have been trying to remind myself
that kindness is only kindness –

it’s what people try to give
as much as they can,

perhaps for what comes after or
a guilt free pillow to sleep upon.

Perhaps it is just humanity
helping

humanity – leaving
themselves behind

for just a moment, to hold
a hand. To stitch a wound.

They must go back
to themselves – you must go back

to yourself. Lick your
wounds. Hold yourself together.

_______________

Pelts

“We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err.”       -Henry Beston, The Outermost House

Take a small axe. Remove my feet and tail at the hairline. Take a knife
and cut me, from my base of what’s left of my tail to my belly and stop
at the bottom of my lip. Switch knives now – the one with the rounded end.

This will fit cleanly underneath my skin. You will pull
it away from my muscle. Peel it away from the rest of me,
the way you will slip off your socks after this day’s work.

On this fleshing beam, my skin becomes your skin now. As you scrape
away the last of the pink tissue, my hide shows white. My skin
becomes paper. My skin becomes profit.

How could you not recognize the genius beneath
the water. You mistake nations for nuisance. You
mistake earthlings for mere things.

This is the way my world works – without my knowing. The home
I’ve built becomes a trap I could never predict. I leave,
I am stopped

by metal – sharp and unforgiving.
I panic
for fifteen minutes. I drown for ten minutes more.

_______________

The Noises You Don’t Want to Hear

I think it was April when my Mom got the call, she was cleaning
and she didn’t stop
even after she hung up.

I assume my Grandpa told her
“Brian’s dead” – that he was found in his apartment, that
he had electrocuted himself.

I remember how she kept cleaning
the kitchen table with a damp paper towel and how
she was crying and the way her words

sounded like they were caught in her stomach and
almost didn’t get out. She asked him
“What?” – hoping

that somehow Grandpa had made some sort of mistake
in his simple sentence.  I remember that I
was in the next room over when Mom got the call and when she hung

up, I asked her “what happened?” and she told me
that her brother was gone – gone – not dead.
Missing.

I remember not saying anything else, just walking to my room
and sitting at my desk and scrolling through Facebook. I listened
to my Mom still moving downstairs.

She came to my room, I think
ten minutes later, to check on me –
and asked if I was okay

I remember I wasn’t crying when I told her
that I was. Her eyes were red and full. Her body
reacting.

Her body still moving in her
responsibilities as a mother and a wife.
I remember

she still made dinner that night.

_______________

Drag

I imagine that I feel
the way a smoked cigarette looks –
The filter yellowed and broken
in from being held too roughly

and taking deep and deadly breaths
from me. I am
an expensive price to pay. I am
your bad

habits – coming back
to me is so easy, even once
I’ve blackened your lungs
and took away

a year from your life.

_______________

Virtuoso

There are things you don’t want
to hear from your mother – like when she tells you
that “you don’t have to sleep with a boy
to get him to like you.”

It’s a sort of backhanded compliment
when she tells you this. A slap
across the face that tells you that – Hey,
at least you’re good at

something. She’s always been good
at telling you these things, the way you’ve
mastered the art of showing up in beds
that are not yours and making them

disappear. Making the boys come
and go.

In a way, you prove
your mother wrong. They like you
for at least twenty minutes and they tell you
that “They had a good time.”

There are things you don’t want to hear
from your mother – the way she suggests that
your body is not perfect. The way she tells you
“maybe you shouldn’t buy a two-piece this year.”

But those boys will still want to
touch you and you let them – you let them
come and go.

There are things you don’t want to hear from your mother –
like when she meets him and she tells you “he’s handsome.
Just don’t get in his way.” Remember that

boys only like you if you sleep with them – if you let
them touch you. They come and they go

onto something better – that is not so sedentary
and sad. To girls who don’t need
to make the boys stay
with this sort of talent.

To girls who have bodies
that are more difficult to acquire and somehow
easier to touch. They don’t stand in the way. But

some boys will stay, even when you expect them
to go. You expect him to leave –
so you find him every night, desperately.
So that he just might stay.

______________________________________________________

Linne Ebbrecht resides in Oswego, NY where she is finishing up her B.A. in Creative Writing at SUNY Oswego. She has poems published in the Great Lake Review and Ishka Bibble. When she isn’t writing she is probably enjoying the outdoors where she finds most of her inspiration.

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Richard Perin-

Camden Skies

Isolated so far
from everyone
caged
in war surplus green death,
along with
two jewels
held captive in this
setting,
and carefully
we shape them

Hungry for affliction,
for any intrusion, a fracture
of some kind – soul,
people – not like those of home.
A hell in every hello.
Live. Backwards.

I am.
Alone.

A lawn mower screams,
“Routine!”
just barely heard
over the sound of children seeking fame,
on a handycam.

And the Christmas lights
have started to come down, as has the tree
in the centre of town.
God! How natural this town looks
despite its geometric shapes and patterns.

Matching lawns, matching cars,
engagement ring, wedding ring,
suffering,
matching divorce papers.
Children playing with
square friends.

But for one bright noon, I walk
the distance from home
to the church on the hill.
My boots laced, medals pressed, eyes ablaze.
Past the hybrid lives and the hybrid
roses, that look perfect, but make no sense.

And a woman I see.
Coming to life as though newly purchased
a male order gift.
A woman like me,
embraced by a white picket fence.

The newspaper boy brings the afternoon,
and the falling sun is delivered
to my landlords porch.
Shadows of garden lattice falling
across my feet, christening my feet,
marking me.

And I drink from a glass,
a second-hand find
like me, and like me
beside some other trinkets
once precious things,
gifts to newlyweds.

And as darkness unfurls
flecked white ashes
stay
ungathered, And above us,
above this lament,
a flowering
universe that divides
night from night and that is
worked to the perfection
of patience.
A thousand candles burning bright
that keep ancient secrets.

And I wait. Beneath
Camden skies.
To write our names in the stars.

_______________

Mourning

The morning dew gently
kissing the window,
calling me out to half
crowded and narrow streets.
The echo of madness is
all around, as the sun
escapes from its gilded cage

A single tear rubbing
it’s back against the window pane.
The smell of dampness
lingering beneath the decaying
wood, mint coloured paint curling
around its corners.

_______________

This place is a dream

Linger for a while upon these golden sands
in these days a quaint apathy
where the sun is yearning and
even wild waters are tempered to
gentle tumbling.
While black birds fatten best
their feathers shiny and sleek
twittering and chattering as they
flutter past,
calling my attention away to
the light blue mountains
and beyond – to the bleak red
heart, jutting landscapes and
clusters of silvery long grass,
breezy tufts.

Lulled by its song
these waters are not
like those of my mothers
home,
but wild and black.
Beyond the horizon, and
past where the moon
has risen and greeted
the evening, and above
where a forest of kelp
licks and sways, on the
edge of a great continent
over rocky crags and
tinted sands – sprays of
green, drooping grey branches,
and scent of lemon sighing
in weakest breath across
beds of pink and blue.

_______________

Sins of the Father

I remember when I was a child
I held you
and you held me
and we were
father and son
Sky and moon
And your bristled face pushed hard against mine,
and I felt what it was like
to belong.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Richard Perin is an Australian Poet and visual artist. He is currently working on a second volume of poems, following on from ‘Failed attempts to fly’ which was published in 2009.

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Other notable work by Tiffany Tavella and Joe Gdowik.

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Tom Pescatore-

I am left wondering why

A curved space
between walls,

She has eyes
spiked at the edges
inky black
and running

powdered cheeks
showing no age.

“Step into the rift,”
curling voices,
warped by walls,
say.

She does this.

vanishes.

I am left wondering
why.

_______________

By the numbers

I am ever in the nirvana of your mind
a sick puppy feeling his way home.

I discovered my sleeping bag works
just as well as a comforter.

sometimes I lay with my feet hanging from my mattress
I let out a big sigh.

I am sometimes one with the diamond night
and wake to the same song every night.

Trying to remember my dreams
I embarrass myself tripping over details.

_______________

Past year

a backlog of memory
to sift through,

an open bottle, empty,
left out in the sun,

tinted shadow
green and long
thrown over
wood surface

faded imperceptibly,
like years, now gone.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tom Pescatore can sometimes be seen wandering along the Walt Whitman bridge or down the sidewalks of Philadelphia’s old Skid Row. He might have left a poem or two behind to mark his trail. He maintains a poetry blog: amagicalmistake.blogspot.com.

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Tiffany Tavella-

Dreams 12/04/2014

He unbuttons his collar
to reveal a white spotted
plum growing just above
his left breast.

Suddenly, I’m holding a scalpel.
He says, “You’ve done this before”
and it isn’t a question.

I tuck the blade into
his new skin fruit.
Neither of us wince
as clear waters pour
over his chest and
knees.

I resist the urge to taste it.

_______________

Midnight Dinner at Lindy’s

For Rachel, New York City’s manic muse

We shared glances over slices
of world famous cheesecake.
You were wearing plaid,
your hair, unruly and uncombed,
yet kissed by rain
symbolically boyish.
I was wearing tie-dye,
and you were fascinated by my meager travels
and knowledge of the Beatles.
Maybe we’ll find ourselves in Perth,
sipping wine with the joeys.
Not Strawberry Fields,
but I’ll take you down
if you’ll let me.

_______________

American Holidays

Amber waves of telecommunication
in frosted glasses unobserved—

The commercial multiverse where Bob Dylan
drives a Chrysler and shoots pool
in a bankrupt American city
talkin’ American folk, American cool,
talkin’ heavy hitting change
while thumbing singed denim pockets
talkin’ assembly line reconstruction
of a union divided
by those willing to buy their revolution
and those who’ll die loyal
only to dissent—

and the air time cost six comfortable Christmases
Detroit would never see.

_______________

Trail Angel

From twilight she appeared
with walking stick and pack
no more filthy
than the perfumed foot
she held to my nose-
they called her ‘dirty peanut.’

Tall and all collar-bone
hair the color of red dawn warning.
These woods grew no such flower
and we buzzed about her offering
pie, I sang for her
and they cracked open her beer
as she spoke of Georgia world weary,
aching legs tucked beneath her.

Warm as August,
1,100 miles
’til Maine,
she thanked us and disappeared into the night
as I was called back to city lights
to dream in the glow around her

of pussyfootin’ along Katahdin,
she’s been waiting (O Seraph!)
and I weep to cleanse her dirty feet.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tiffany Tavella will trade a humble turn of phrase for a cup of coffee and an open ear. Her work can be found in journals both in print and online, but she hides her chapbooks in used book stores and free libraries. She lives and writes in Philadelphia.

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Joe Gdowik-

Remember That Long, Long Train Ride Home

on the way home, the train passed a petrified forest
dry trees, stained pale-bone white

one year later
we met again –
one last touch
lips to skin –
hearts dried up.

_______________

feelin Dand-e

dandelions gone to seed
half bald –
they’ll find the cracks
keep the city green.

gardeners –
we grow weeds
in empty lots

_______________

Rose Wine

rosemary, sage
honey –
heady rose wine

lying glutted before your banquet –
i pass into a sweet
delicate death

_______________

Thunder Creek Haiku

Dozing in whited rock
slow silent Red
grows grey

Thunder Creek rumbles
like last night’s firs –
soft, swaying song

Gentle feet –
gentle hands –
gentle snake slithers home

mountain fog hides full moon
either way –
a starless night

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Joe Gdowik enjoys laying his hands down and seeing what they come up with. He shares an apartment in Philadelphia with Walt Whitman the Cat and frequently loses himself amongst his hobbies.

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Other notable work by Marianne Szlyk, April Salzano and Barbara Bald.

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A.J. Huffman-

The View from All Four

A place is not a form of absorption
for wishes or really sweet justifications.
Those fall to the river shaft, exit
like true pioneers via debt and distance.
Occasionally hope will intervene,
tunnel below driveway or moat, mingle
with the edges of communication,
make an awful mess of recreation
that can take weeks to scour
from inside walls.

_______________

I Dream of Hemingway

in the rain, standing beneath the lights
of the Eiffel Tower. He has a bottle of wine
in one hand, a pen in the other. I refuse his offer
of both despite the fact that they have no strings.
I know drowning when I see it.
Instead I turn towards the rising dawn, watch
silently as distant hills melt into memories of white
elephants.

_______________

Tasting Sacred

waters, welled in forgotten baptismals, I am
forcing my own rebirth. A burning
seed has unfurled, rooting around
my skeletal structure. The intangible touch
of blessing blooms, flowers through my tongue,
touch, eyes. Anything open flashes. Signs
hover, ghostly auras, screaming
welcome, home reflected
back from the skies.

_______________

There are Cages for Gods

that only capture angels. They swing
inside clouds masquerading as candles.
I wish I could answer their call, lock
myself inside a silver-lined cotton sanctuary
of silence. My imagination might,
once again, grow wings, fly south for a second
summer, learn to understand the desire
to consume life from accompanying birds
of prey.

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A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press) and A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing) are now available from their respective publishers. She has two additional poetry collections forthcoming: Degeneration from Pink Girl Ink, and A Bizarre Burning of Bees from Transcendent Zero Press. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and has published over 2200 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

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Marianne Szlyk-

Ms. Hawthorn

dreams of standing on a ridge in Britain,
looking down on cathedrals and car parks,
on pubs and Morris dancers ,
albums she knew from
used record stores and
long-lost friends’ collections.

Dirty blonde hair
streaming in the wind,
she would be barefoot,
wear white, in spite
of mud and wet grass.

At fifty, she sits in traffic.
Through mousy- brown bangs,
she blinks at mist
falling on her windshield,
the line of cars
snaking on past the exit.

As violins on the CD swell,
a young man sings
about growing older
on a morning like this one.
He has just arrived in town;
she has lived in this state
for a dozen years
or more.

_______________

Let’s Go Away for Awhile

Thelma and her husband sing along to Pet Sounds
when driving to the Cape. Jerry Cole’s guitar
begins “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and they launch

into song, his voice too wild, hers with
the Texas accent she never can lose. They
plunge in, splashing past strip malls and swamp.

But this instrumental is the song she loves best,
the vibraphone like sunshine against drums like surf,
the horns like the wave that crashes furthest

onto the rocks, not quite the highway.
The strings are clouds, meringue she has whipped
up in a stainless steel bowl at home.

She almost forgets that the east coast
has weak surf, and slimy seaweed clings to
waders’ calves in warm, knee-high water

as she and her husband waddle in among
the thin girls from Boston. She then remembers
cold, cloudy Mondays when the two of them

drive back home, listening to their inland music:
Chicago blues, Texas swing, Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonkin’”,
the old songs that better suit their voices.

Maybe she likes that this instrumental comes before
anyone can see the bridge or the traffic.
Or she likes to catch her breath

before “Sloop John B”’s lyrics grind her down
like the refrain of a whiny child.
She catches her breath.

_______________

One Spring Morning at the Historic Icehouse

The perfect cube of ice descends.
Having wrapped it in plastic for protection,
volunteers are lowering it
into the historic icehouse.

The perfect cube chills this brick chamber
large enough for dozens of cubes
in the days before this icehouse
was historic, when no tourists
came to Florida.

Rough to the touch, red clay walls
protect this cube.
It will never melt.
The cube’s chill keeps
mold and moss
from forming on the walls.

The icehouse smells of nothing
but cold, nothing
but straw and the dirt floor.
Unlike the zoo’s dazed baby elephant
or the polar bear with yellowed fur,
it appeals to the tourists.

Lowering the perfect cube
by means of a historic hook and pulley,
the volunteers forget
the thick air outside
as imperfect oranges
and grapefruit spoil,
the corpse flower blooms,
and tourists’ overheated
cars crawl
past this historic site.

Shivering, not sweating,
the volunteers
forget this spring morning,
these air-conditioned years.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is… and a professor of English at Montgomery College. Recently, Flutter Press published her chapbook I Dream of Empathy. Kind of a Hurricane Press published her earlier chapbook, Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking Up at Trees of Heaven.. Her poems have also appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Long Exposure, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, Yellow Chair Review, ken*again, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Flutter Poetry Journal, Black Poppy Review, and the anthology Our Day of Passing.

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April Salzano-

Placebo by Proxy

I am staring straight into the eye of the son,
the blue-green confusion of autism,
and wondering if the decrease
from 2ml back to 1.25 ml of Prozac
is making him feel less anxious.
His fingers are still on his lips,
bending, twisting, contorting
them into little balloon animals,
pink origami gifts that will be given
to no one. I imagine each sigh
has meaning, each gesture is a form
of communication, as I wait
for the thank you that will never come,
for assurance that will be taken
from whatever it can be taken,
fact or fiction, myth or dream.

_______________

Here Is My Father

forming noose knots of clothesline,
graffitying his parents’ garage—
This is the place where Napoleon
pulled his bone a part
, a phrase I took
years to decipher. My father was less
than half my age when he sprayed it
in crooked yellow script on the second
story, a place of disregarded memories
disintegrating in sun-scorched boxes.
These walls meant nothing,
just another space to desecrate. My body
collapsed under the weight of his rage,
bones separating, tissue remembering to tear
along old fault lines, long before I learned
to hate him, then love him again in spite
of all logic, which I eventually found hanging
lifeless from a rafter in a long-forgotten room.

_______________

Burying the Hatchet

The wood is grateful for the blade,
to be split then quartered, long
before winter. July is all rain,
intermittent bouts of whorish sun
scalding wet flowers. If I am
asked, I will say it has been a great summer.
I will tell no one of the doubts
that fill the sink like dirty dishes,
that the shed is half full,
the bed, half empty.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

April Salzano is the co-editor at Kind of a Hurricane Press and is currently working on a memoir about raising a child with autism, along with several collections of poetry. Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Award and has appeared in journals such as The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, Deadsnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle. Her chapbook, The Girl of My Dreams, is available from Dancing Girl Press. More of her work can be read at http://aprilsalzano.blogspot.com/

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Barbara Bald-

Early Lessons: Shaping an Artist and a Man

My mother held my hand
as we entered the principal’s office,
first day of school, mandatory registration
for first grade. She found us a seat
before a large man in a black suit,
white shirt and red bow tie.

Mr. Gridley, behind his massive desk,
sat like Poseidon, god of the sea,
keeping the oak barrier between us.
I found myself wondering if
he had a trident in his closet, like the one
I had seen in an encyclopedia.

Benevolent or maniacal, I could not tell,
didn’t yet know those words, but
the many framed letters on his wall proved
he was either very smart or very important.
My mind imagined, body sensed,
he could swallow six-year-olds whole.

My mother lovingly sang my praises
added I was a creative boy who loved art.
My face glowed as I told him
I worked hard with my sisters, making
paper dolls with pink-ribboned hair.

Poseidon smiled, but his eyes gave it away.
He said, We don’t do that sort of thing
at this school
.
I didn’t hear all his words, but somehow I knew
making paper dolls was not something
I would ever do again.

When we left his office, my face still flushed
and my belly heaved from traveling rough waters.
Lessons had already begun.
As we closed the door, I swear I saw sharks
swimming beside his desk.

_______________

In Shadow

I wonder about my mother, who she really was¬¬––

not the mother who yelled at me
when she was late for work;
not the one who’s belt buckle left black and blues
on bare skin;
not the mother who warned an eighth grade kiss
could ruin a reputation;
not even the parent who tithed her paycheck
to the church so I could get a good education.

I can quote her one-line admonishments,
recall her probing questions and boundary violations,
still hear her criticize her own flat feet,
stubby thumb nails and cracked tongue.

I know how at ten she threatened her father with a knife
if he dared hurt her mother again;
how she carried coal in a stocking as a weapon
against threats risked on city streets;
how ashamed she was to wear hand-me-downs
to her graduation when others wore frilly frocks.
But who was she, really?

Did she smile with eyes closed when the sun
touched her face, like the feel of beach sand
between her toes, or ever, like me, weep in loneliness?

What was she thinking when she told me lost a baby,
then in front of other women, denied she ever said it?
When headache pain from an aneurism struck, how did she
have presence of mind to remove the curlers from her hair?
Did she sense she would never return home?

I found unexpected things in her house when she died:
news clippings of my Dean’s List honors folded in her purse,
exercise tape for seniors on the tv table,
pink crystal rosaries nestled under her bed pillow.

I did not know this mother. Like neighbors mowing lawns
on our own sides of a tall wooden fence, our walls
were high. Who’s wall was higher, who nailed the first plank
is now irrelevant. The structure remained permanent, but
I wonder who she really was, how much love we missed
and how many secrets flew with her ashes in the wind.

_______________

Last Conundrum

I wonder if Tchaikovsky thought about dying,
envisioned his unwritten concertos calling
from the grave.

Did he pine for new symphonies soon silenced,
fret about unvoiced operas stifled by soil and stone
or weep for movements the world would never hear?

Did he work at fevered pitch to fan creative flames
still trapped inside or lose himself so deeply
that passion sang its own sweet tune,
blurring all lines between now and the end?

And what about Einstein, Earhart and Monet—
their unborn theories, daring dreams
and brilliant brush strokes thwarted by time,
buried beneath bedrock or vaporized into thin air.

Walking now on winter’s frozen ground,
I wonder if they too could have imagined
no longer seeing the sparkle of sunlight on snow,
regretted not being around to witness spring’s thaw.

Hurry, hurry, light breezes whisper.
Carpe Diem, strong winds shout.
Slow down, slow down, chickadees chastise
from bare birch branches just beginning to bud.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and free-lance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, For Loving Precious Beast, Piscataqua Poems,
The Widow’s Handbook, Sun and Sand, In Gilded Frame and other anthologies published by Kind of Hurricane Press. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. Her recent full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her new chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, NH with her cat Catcher and two Siamese Fighting fish.

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Holly Day-

Daffodils

he walks among the dead
walks stiffly to
the bar, orders
an ordinary beer
from a menu that
specializes in drinks
with names like Corpse Fuck
Brain Hemorrhage

the leather-clad sow
in the corner blossoms at
the sight of his teeth
he glides across the room, slipping beside her
into a red plastic booth
her cheap perfume reeks
of dirty sex, dying things
“my place,” he smiles, he says
and kisses her blood-clot lips

they walk out to the night
she holds his arm with
both hands and talks too
loud he pulls her through the
gates of the cemetery
locks the gate behind them.

_______________

Alive

they found her small body wired into the heart
of the church, small LEDs sprouting through her skin
blooming like tiny red flowers
too far deep for sunlight to reach.

she was sheared clean through to bone
by claws big enough
to belong to the God hanging
over the spot her mangled body lay.

_______________

The Impossibleness of Abstract Representation

where are we now? one man asked
we shone our flashlights around the cave

saw only stone, tall ceilings, dark passages
darting off in every direction. The map

showed us which random tributary
would take us back to sunlight, although it was hard to believe

that we were somewhere on that flat piece of paper, a cluster of flies
in a network of blue spaghetti loops. But yes, there was the pool

right next to our path like it was on the map, tiny white fish
darting about in the light of our flashlights, blind as the furry brown bats

circling overhead. So when do we start going up? asked another
man who looked too tired to go on. Are we almost there?

_______________

Still Away

I missed you so much when you left I couldn’t breathe. No, I didn’t miss you at all,
I just kept thinking about all the things, the tiny things, the big things, the wanting
all the dependent little creatures you left behind, helpless, trapped
little creatures in your house, left
alone without food, without water, pacing, pacing, pacing, ears perking
at the sound of new mail pushed through the squeaky slot, behind the locked door
that would never open again,
all the things left behind.

In my dreams, I am still dreaming about your goldfish, the little blue-flecked translucent
minnows, the over-zealous tank snails
their bodies moldering in the bottom of the foggy glass fish bowl, the over-zealous
tank snails stripping their corpses to hair-thin skeletons, the long-nosed dolphin fish
I picked out for you
the last to remain, competing with tank snails to suck thin strains of green mold
from the clogged air filter, overturning the blue pebbles at the bottom

in search of more algae, more rot, more decay. I don’t remember
if you had a cat, but in my dreams, you had many,
they’re fighting with each other, they’re drinking water
from the fish tank, the toilet, they’re clawing at the window, begging passersby
to let them out. I wish

you’d left me a key.

_______________

Tiny, Pointed Teeth

Sometimes I still dream about the kittens clawing their way through my shirt kittens
With tiny claws and tiny teeth and tiny mews kittens
That once lived inside me, populated my dreams with tiny
Paws and fingertips and skin so pale and soft and white those kittens

Shoved under my shirt stuffed beneath my skin those kittens
I would never have been able to take care of those kittens
I never asked for and never wanted those kittens
Who would have died a long time ago even if they had managed
To make it to the outside world.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Nordeast Minneapolis: A History.

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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
September - Susan Palmer
October - Holly Day
November - A.J. Huffman
December - Tom Pescatore

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2016

January - Richard Perin
February - Linne Ebbrecht
March - Sheri Vandermolen
April - Molly Cappiello
May - Caleb Coy
June - Paul Lubenkov
July - Domenic Scopa
August - Adam Phillips
September - Timothy Gager
October - Bruce Lader
November - Holly Day
December - Al Rocheleau

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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