Poetry

Generation

by Dana Delibovi

 

I tried to reel them in, but

with a phone unanswered late last night

when the smell of dust announced the rain,

they got away.

 

So I’ve gone to the cattail pond,

where I mind my own business

as much as any shrieking fowl, and bait

another hook, barbed with remembrance:

the rasp of the rusty wagon;

the baby-carrots flung against the tiles;

someone playing medieval hymns

on the basement piano.

 

I netted up my children for a few years,

but then they became paper-koi lanterns

on a rope bridge across the flow.

Dana Delibovi is a poet, essayist, and translator from Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. In 2020, her work has appeared in After the Art, Apple Valley Review, The Confluence, Linden Avenue, Noon (The Journal of the Short Poem), The Wall (Witty Partition), and Zingara Poetry Review. She is the 2019 winner of the James Haba Award for Poetry. 

Plague Migration

by David Anthony Sam

 

You and I sit here

on a flat, basalt outcrop

in a clearing at the edge

of this precipice,

and look down into the valley.

 

Smoke rises, mixes with clouds,

brings the odor of burning

as acrid incense. But,

we are not gods here to receive

this as gift. We are just

living our Decameron moment

and waiting out the death

and the denials below.

 

An eagle soars, eyeing us

briefly from the thermal it rides.

No, we’re not the prey

it might knock from the cliff

to be eaten, carrion

on the rock ledge below.

So she lifts on a heat

from the burning below

and drifts toward another mountain.

 

We migrated here to isolate

ourselves from fear

spoken in the breaths of strangers.

We solace ourselves

in daily tasks simply done

amid the eruption of mountain laurel

and rhododendron,

beneath the easy drift of sky

from cloud to clear,

from sunrise rose to sunset crimson.

 

We bear no purpose,

wear no significance except

to breathe what can be seen

in clear cold morning air–

the names for time

in the passage of shadows.

 

David Anthony Sam lives in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda. His poetry has appeared in over 90 journals and his poem, “First and Last,” won the 2018 Rebecca Lard Award. Six of his collections are in print including Final Inventory (Prolific Press 2018), Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson, 2016 Grand Prize winner of the GFT Press Chapbook Contest, and Dark Fathers (Kelsay Books 2019). He teaches creative writing at Germanna Community College, from where he retired as President in 2017 and serves as the Regional VP on the Board of the Virginia Poetry Society.

Iris Truman: Redwing, 1888

by Katharyn Howd Machan

 

I wore the dress I’d never dared before:

my palest pink, my surest pink, so soft

I feared my new laced boots would tear its hem

as I came down the stairs at Mother’s call.

                       

He stood there, smiling hopefully, a man

near twice my age, his brown eyes lined by sun,

arms carrying a small worn basket filled

with fruit that sweetened our dull parlor air.

 

Should I have cared he didn’t know I am

a bastard shielded by my family’s lies?

He wanted me as wife, and in my pink

I smelled the berries offered by his hands.

 

Maggie Rist: Redwing, 1888

by Katharyn Howd Machan

 

I keep a clean house: extra

curtains on the windows, bright

rugs stretched across swept floors, beds

made up with twice-stitched sheets, lace

 

on every pillow. My girls do well:

Polly with her turned-up nose

and freckles, Susan with her long

black hair in curls, and Essie May

 

with her body like a bell. I tell

them, :Keep it proper, girls, and smile

like ladies,” and I make them comb

and brush and bathe, and smooth their skin

 

with pumice, wash their stockings, hang

their laundered dresses straight to dry.

Yes, my life’s sweet on Clover Street:

what I sell, I needn’t buy.

           

Marietta Taylor: Redwing, 1888

by Katharyn Howd Machan

 

Last night she wore a fur-necked gown,

the dark queen in my dreams,

of fabric so impossibly thin

I turned away and wept.

But a small owl clutching her bare arm

made me look back again:

her eyes a smear, a scar, a stain

on all I know is decent.

What will she wear when I sleep next,

my bed a cold white torture?

Her hands always hold a long strong needle,

red embroidery floss.

Julia Stone: Redwing, 1888

by Katharyn Howd Machan

 

When she offered me her mouth

I took it lightly with my lips

and then pressed all my promises

deep into her breath. Dear God!

I would have given all the earth’s

greenblue of life to stay with her,

to taste again the salt and sweet

of that night’s lingering. Why did

I pull away, allow the moon

to give excuse that we must part?

What her spirit craved was dance

and fire leaping emerald blaze....

I called her sacred, pure, celestial,

but let death whirl her into grace.

Caitlin Roberts: Redwing, 1888

by Katharyn Howd Machan

 

So much older, so much wiser,

he seemed to me when I was seventeen.

He’d walk me to the riverbank

and read the poems of William Cullen Bryant

so full, so slow in his deep voice,

each line like gravity shared by twin moons

held by a single planet. And

he’d teach me symmetry, the way our hands

could join in balanced touch of palm

to palm, skin’s heat a way to meld, intact.

A coin with different sides, I thought,

fused at smooth edge to meet.... We found ourselves

one being in another’s words

of light and life, clear air, firm earth: true love,

I dared to think in metaphors

like seasons singing long before their birth.

Katharyn Howd Machan’s most recent publications are A Slow Bottle of Wine (The Comstock Writers, Inc., 2020) and What the Piper Promised (Alexandria Quarterly Press, 2018), both winners in national chapbook competitions. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, and textbooks, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature and Sound and Sense. A professor in the Writing Department at Ithaca College in central New York State, she served as Tompkins County’s first poet laureate.

THE WORD WORE WHITE

by JR Solonche

 

There was a wedding.

It was a private wedding.

No one was invited.

It was the wedding of the word.

The word was marrying the old man.

It was the word’s first marriage.

It was the old man’s second marriage.

The word was not a virgin.

The word slept with thousands of old men.

The old man was not a virgin but felt like one.

The word wore white.

The old man wore black.

The old man believed he was at a funeral.

It was a reasonable belief.

SALE

by JR Solonche

 

I had my eye on

the broken scythe

in the corner of the barn,

covered in cobwebs

next to an old churn.

I asked him how much.

It’s not for sale he said.

How did it break?

I asked. Did he strike

a stone while harvesting

the wheat?  No. He broke

it against a tree while

remembering his high school

sweetheart. It’s not for sale,

he said again. Is it all

right if I write a poem

about it? Sure, he said.

Somebody should, I guess.

Thanks, I said. He smiled.

Then waved, more or less.

LIQUID MIND

by JR Solonche

 

I have arthritis.

I have sciatica.

The pills weren’t working.

The exercises weren’t working.

The medical marijuana wasn’t working.

I went to the acupuncturist.

She put on music.

It was flute.

It was relaxing.

It was called “Liquid Mind.”

She put needles in my back.

I didn’t feel the needles.

She triggered the muscles.

I felt the muscles jump.

She had liquid hands.

She had a sense of humor.

She told me to drink lots of water.

I asked her if I could drink bourbon with the water.

She said I could.

I said I would write a poem about her.

She laughed.

She had a liquid laugh.

Like I said, she had a sense of humor.

On my way home, I stopped at Hennessy’s Liquor.

I asked for a fifth of “Liquid Mind.”

Never heard of it, he said.

It’s a new whiskey, I said.

I’ll order it, he said.

Don’t bother, I said. It doesn’t work.

J.R. Solonche is the author of 21 books of poetry and coauthor of another. He lives in the Hudson Valley.

 

The Meaning of Her Essence

by Lee Seungyeon

 

In a life, she is not

allowed to own a life.

The power keeps her

for itself. It seals her

within herself. Even there,

she travels unsafely.

 

Against the wall, she

looks around. The power

laughs at her. Her wall

is not thick enough.

 

In a life, she is not

allowed to own her body.

The power makes her

in its image. It seals her

within herself. Even there,

 

she is a shroud, a darkness,

a drama of nothingness.

 

 

Seungyeon Lee is an Associate Professor of psychology at the University of Arkansas, Monticello (UAM). She teaches courses in Child Development, Adolescents, Developmental Psychology, and Research Methods. She received her PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Kansas. Her research interest focuses on constructions of gender identity and adolescent development in popular fairy tales and their retellings. She also investigates gender and identity as it is reflected in twentieth-century American popular culture. She seeks herself to find adventure of the heart.

 

 

 

 

Eyelashes & Tears

by Lachelle Lewis

 

Salty diamonds

collect on unblown wishes,

turning a fixed world

into a broken kaleidoscope

 

 

Lachelle Lewis is a burgeoning 21-year-old writer from Star City, Arkansas whose hobbies consist of drawing, writing, and procrastinating about writing. She has a gray cat and too many dogs.

 

 

 

Anonymous Obituary

by Michael Hammerle

 

Mud-stained bedrock and resin floating,

Inlet I love for those cattail reeds.

Chew the heart of palm and no one is boating.

Here—inherited by the shotgun—we can sow seeds.

Arriving back to a place I was once from but couldn’t remember.

End of the line; far as I’m willing to move my family north.

Last thing I ever thought was I’d get a letter in the mail:

Anonymous-sent obituary. The facade father’s beyond the pale.

Anonymous constituary abused the trust they’d say on the nail.

Roused suspicion, and the greed, in me. The only thing I ever pined

Over was a woman and I had to know her well.

Necrosis acute or I’d likely disorder my stress to hell.

Hospital would be the last thing on my ever-lofting mind.

All out of sugar. I’m not over how I got the storking land.

Make them miss and take the piss out of their claim.

Mud stained bed rock and resin floating,

Ear shaped swamp that drains and gloats

Restricting the culpability could I proceed.

Learned to look at the loch for its ability to form the creek

Eternally feeding my family.

 

 

Am I on the Island That’s Thriving or Starving?

by Michael Hammerle

 

For so long I wanted isolation. I wanted to endure—to be dropped

on a desert island. I didn’t care about the starving. I wanted to see

the universe. People want the world but I wanted the universe.

When what is tangible isn’t what you want you live in isolation.

Social starving. To be more you must endure. You cannot leave your

island. Your starting point is where you are dropped. You can venture,

or stay where you dropped. When the world is so predictable you look

for the universe. The universe reassures your island. Rationalizes

isolation. Says its best quality is its ability to endure; even when

starving. You always know when you’re starving and you can’t find

the other shoe but you know it has dropped. You wonder if you need

contact to endure. You wonder if you can trust your eyes in this

universe. There’s no one to second what you’ve seen in isolation.

Everything you dreamed is true about this island. You can’t know how

your wife and children are faring when you’re on the island. If you’d

brought your family they’d be starving. Are you still loving this

isolation? What would it be like if you never left where you were

dropped? If reality is fragmented across universes is there a dominant

reality and that is the conscious that endures? Could it be that the last

reality standing endures? All others are photonic projections of the same

island; and therefore photonic projections of the same universe. Am I on

the island that’s thriving or starving? What would reality be like if I never

left where we dropped? I had wished in every barren stretch for this

isolation.

 

 

Hollow

by Michael Hammerle

 

Deep in the coppice, the Catahoulas are champing

to fly out of their cages. Howling breath thawing the rime.

We release the hounds far from the cockcrows.

The badges on their collars briefly glint illuminated by

the red dawn sky. The Black-Mouth Curs never leave our side.

We all listen for the catch dogs; Staffordshires whine.

Keep the Laurels in mind my father said as we footlogged

through the morass. He meant we should climb if we see a boar.

 

Days before, we’d took drums of motor oil and poured them

at the roots of the pines. The hogs rub their tusks there

and roll in the grime. We let the dogs trail the hogs’ redolence

and follow their findings. The conditioned pack doesn’t value

a shoat, conscious of consequence, of reward or ruins.

The game hides the sport. Always cold-hunt canines.

Trained in the forest, not in the fold my father said.

 

We chose which dog would lead our first hunt

without our father. We wanted Hollow, a mastiff.

The test: meet our father where the gully is filled

with fallen trees. On that trek is where we saw our first cougar.

Its coatfrost flickered in the sun like flecks of calcite.

The eyes were eutrophic green like a cow field pond.

Hollow stiffened and lightly whooped to communicate

(his fat ruffled with the sound). The puma yowled

and bowed, and swatted toward the three of us. Maintaining

stance but a reluctance and hint of false-softness in its eyes.

 

Hollow charged and the lion wrapped around him. The two rassled

and the fracas rolled into myrtle shrubs. Hollow we said.

 

There was a caterwaul—my brother and I pulled each other

toward the sound—we stopped short and looked into

the shaking shrubs. Hollow emerged, rale-breathed, as he bled.

He was warm and wet in-between his shoulders. He had punctures

in his ribs. Hollow we both said because he’d lowered himself

to the ground. He yelped when we touched him and the pitch

of the sound was like a fork slipping on a ceramic plate.

 

Hollow was a brindle, one-hundred and twenty pound mass.

He rolled onto his side and his panting quickened.

A baying throng in forked in front of our Papa and drove

down the holler. The pack circled the scene and our father

mushed them away with his boots and fell to his knees between us.

Hollow did not lift his head. His breath like weak wind

in a whistle played along to the laments of the Blue Ticks

and Leopard dogs. The Black-Mouth Curs were steady

and the Staffordshires, still nervous, were the only dogs who

circled. We apologized and whimpered, swore we’d never

go in the forest—never hunt hogs after—but we did with our

Papa again and again.

 

 

Michael Hammerle is completing his MFA thesis at the University of Arkansas at Monticello where he has taught composition. He holds a BA in English from the University of Florida. He is the founder of Middle House Review. His fiction has been published in The Best Small Fictions 2017 selected by Amy Hempel. His prose and poetry has been published in Split Lip Magazine, New World Writing, Louisiana Literature, After the Pause, the Matador Review, and many more magazines. His writing has been a finalist at American Short Fiction, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Prime Number Magazine. He lives and writes in Gainesville, FL.

 

 

 

 

I Have Loved You

by Jonelle Grace Lipscomb

 

 

Spring’s freshness sprouts into the heat of summer

      through a bursting splash of brilliant color

     that fades into the stark whiteness of snow.

 

 

I have loved you in the springtime, when the

anticipated sight of your presence

made my breath catch, and the petals of your

mouth caressed the concave corners of my flesh.

 

I have loved you in the summer, as we

became familiar with the sometimes sameness

of our bodies after toiling in the sun.

 

I love you now in autumn as we play

amidst the piles of life that blew around us.

 

I shall love you in the winter

until snow does

not melt

into

spring.

 

 

Jonelle Grace Lipscomb has been in the arts since the early seventies as a writer, actor, director, photographer, and filmmaker. When she retired from teaching theatre and film six years ago, she seized the opportunity to focus on writing and photography. She has had two short stories published by Writing Our World Publishing. “Visiting Mother” was included in the anthology, Writing Our Lives, Volume II, and “Tommy and Me” was included in Writing Our Lives, Volume III. Her photograph “Trees and Moon” appeared in “Diamond Line,” at the University of Arkansas. She lives with her husband, Bryant, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and is currently a candidate in the M.F.A. Creative Writing Program at University of Arkansas/Monticello. She hopes her passion for learning and for the arts will be an inspiration for her grandchildren and great-nephews.