(Cover Art Baked Bikini by Wendy L. Schmidt)
Roy J. Adams
THE OPHTHALMOLOGIST PEERS
into my eyes
her ears tantalize
The BOTOX® look is a comely delusion—
lips puffed aspartame-sweet like a blow-fish
engorged with bonhomie.
But down in the crack, a puffy muff may portend bad news.
Therefore, I highly suggest, even urge labial reconstruction,
what the eminent Dr. Ta-Da refers to as vulval beautification.
I trust this helps with your painfully expensive decision
to snip and clip. You will never forgive yourself for not
welcoming mutilation in the name of Prettiest Pussy in Town.
WATCHING THAT FIRE
The temperature dropped
while we ate in the diner,
so we step out into a raw wind.
“Give me your coat,” Billie says,
patting her naked arms.
I peel off my Levi’s jacket,
draping it over her shoulders.
She pushes a finger through the hole
in the flannel lining so it comes
out the faded denim
below the right patch pocket.
“At least it’s warm,” she says,
snuggling in as the wind pushes
icy air through my t-shirt.
From the bus shelter, we watch the sun
send dying rays over the horizon
into a sea of pink froth.
“Those clouds are pretty,”
she says, “but where is that bus?”
Seeing the goose pimples on my arms,
she stands and spreads the jacket
over my back, sitting on my lap
and pulling the edges close in front.
I put my arms around her waist,
breathing the scent of her hair
at day’s end. Fishing a lighter
from a denim pocket,
she lets the flame stand high,
and we watch that fire
while waiting for our ride.
TOURIST’S GUIDE TO THE WRONG KIND OF BAR
Don’t ask for anything without alcohol
and don’t say “please” when you order a draft beer.
Don’t tell the bartender to keep the change from your twenty.
Don’t ask the sorry blonde what happened to her Rorschach eye.
Don’t tell her how bad you feel about your lover leaving you.
Don’t ask if anyone wants to shoot pool with you.
Don’t tell them the name of the place you usually go.
Don’t act nervous when the men at the end of the bar
huddle and talk in low voices and keep looking your way.
Your hair is the wrong gender and your brain is the wrong color.
You won’t know when it’s time to leave
but you’ll know when you should have left a long time ago.
Don’t walk too fast. Try to look taller, and more bulky,
and more relaxed. Hope you remember
where you parked. Hope there’s light.
walking by early cafe’s heat
Father Francis with
the visitor orders a cappuccio
the workman looks down
his caffè corretto
a sign for another
before the long day
IN THE INTERESTS OF FULL DISCLOSURE
I sleep with you on this bed of nails
and never fail to be amazed
when you refer to me as hammer.
I find it pleases me to call you songbird.
It is the way we lay together
as natural as tulips.
Teresa McLamb Blackmon
CROSSING THE POND DAM
when dark has beat her home,
four geese hover over goslings,
warm them like blankets
they might become,
three donkeys, in prayer-like ritual,
bend to the ground for grain,
too busy to bray
or lift long ears,
two pups awaken
and blend their bark
with familiar gravel
under wheels coming or going.
one man inside has no idea
the distance from where she has been
to where she is heading now,
beneath grazing stars
with water watching.
At first I thought
you simply didn’t
that I bend down
in the street
and pick up
you asked me
why it is
I have such
a disgusting habit
It may be found
in the combination
of paper and ash
it may be due
to economic necessity
but it’s not
any of that
So now I can tell you
I like the taste
of other people’s saliva
TRANSLATED FROM THE PORTUGUESE
William C. Blome
TO THE MEMORY OF GLORIA GRAHAME
If I had pulled your indigo belt out of those jaguar-pattern
loops, gifted you the belt as your slacks fell to your ankles,
and you in turn wound the belt around my neck, pulling it tight,
and notching the mother just short of where I’d be coughing
up wild cherry lozenges and spilling the beans about infidelity,
that approach would have actually mirrored what the studio
doctor ordered you to do to inflate your ass, swell those tits,
and bless your career with midnight nipples the size of a goblin’s
thumb, but thank god you slid out of your pants easy-like; you
stooped down and handed me one of your rhinestone mules;
and we went back and forth whacking the M.D. senseless.
I wonder if anyone would call
to say my father’s dying — not
the one I love; the other one.
If so, would I go to the hospital
to feel the ancient, inescapable mantle,
the fireplace tucked into a corner
of the room and flaming, or sagging,
tiles cracking off, the whole house
aflame, doused with the blood
of our matrons and patrons —
all the toenail clippings and Christmas
presents, Chinese paintings I took
from the wall, yellowed with nicotine, cast
into a pile? As it is, I remember
the weight of it, worse than the inner
sanctum of the back of the chapel, the room
where minister and ministrings robed
themselves in cloth and waist-ropes,
a little musty but never overbearing,
never as heavy as the look my grandmother
gave me, palming the bedrail, her gummy
lips smacking together unconsciously.
THINKING ABOUT GAY SEX ON A SUNDAY NIGHT
I recline in my leather chair,
thinking of men, thinking of bed,
now empty, now cold, just down
the hall in the apartment where
I picture them under fleece blankets.
Their feet pet my feet,
their hands dance with my hands,
their tongues kiss my tongue.
Their sweet moans pluck my ears
as though I were a cello between
their sprawled legs.
They enter me.
In my imagination they enter me,
though I’m alone. Feeling
On nights like tonight
I question my pinprick place
in the world,
which is, thankfully, full of people,
choirs of birds,
sometimes alone but always together,
singing not just for ourselves
but for life itself.
I pick up a book from my side table,
a book of poems by a man
I’ve never heard of.
I open it and sing the verse
on the page,
pretending the poet’s present
and prepared to pleasure me with his music.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
The dog smells perfect—just dog enough, not too dog. The dog, then a puppy, was a gift from a local cop and he’s mostly Rottweiler the dog not the cop, but it could be true of the cop although he was smart enough to marry a beautiful woman with money and a brain in her head and wound up buying and selling a motel, quitting the cop shop and moving to Wyoming. So, not a dog.
But before that. The cop found the dog, flea-bit and starving, on the roadside in Little Rock and passed him on. None of us knew anything about the dog. At forty pounds, I thought he was mostly grown but Larry said, “he’ll be a big one.” Now he weighs one hundred and sleeps on our bed.
The dog whimpers and pushes his huge head against my shoulder but I’m not going to pop corn for us to share or take him for his breakfast or dinner. I’m going to sit here and silently applaud his one trick, which is to roll onto his back and show his eyeteeth. He’s a good dog but it’s not much of a trick.
It’s ok to say it in your own words,
as if they were words you owned, words
no one had said before. But I’ll testify
there’s not much modern in meanness,
breasts slapped or twisted, vagina
entered with whatever’s to hand
and then the general narrative of harm,
scream, fist, belt, yardstick, broom,
the stories much the same when no one hears
or listens. You ache to begin another chapter
on the other side of what happened
even though you may choose to remain
silent in the courtroom, you so sad and tick bit,
him all dressed up.
Boise on-ramp. Honda Civic, yellow.
Out the shotgun window the head of a dog
golden pointed ears
brown wet nose sniffs toward me, snorts.
She orders the dog to the back seat
says I can ride as far as Pocatello
since Goldie signals okay.
As we roll past potato fields she says
“Goldie killed a man when I lived in New Jersey.
His name was Louis.
I didn’t train Goldie to kill.
Got her from a shelter.
The man Louis broke into my room
where I was sleeping. He told me
not to say a word or he’d slash my throat.
Goldie from a crouch leaped over the bed.
Ripped his throat. So fast!
Blood on the blanket. Pools.
You know how blood smells? Sour.
Like bad Italian food. Like fake Parmesan.
It was clear to anybody
Louis did not have good intentions
but they said I had to put Goldie down.
That’s why I live in Idaho.
Don’t worry, she’s friendly
if you are. Here — give her a biscuit.
Place it on the palm.
Don’t hold it in your fingers or she might—
Look! She likes you.
She’s licking your hand.”
MELINDA IN THE BOLDEST MOVE
of her shy life sits on the cinder block wall
of the loading dock in sunshine
for her lunch break. Legs dangle,
toes twitch in sandals, nostrils narrow
to the stink as diesel trucks back up beeping.
Nearby sits Marco so indifferent,
boots beating gently against the wall
as he opens his lunch bag and extracts a sandwich
dripping lettuce with a sauce of deep brown
while red-crowned woodpeckers swoop
among branches of the struggling oak trees
dropping acorns onto concrete gathered by squirrels,
gray ratty bodies with bottle-brush tails,
acorns clenched in their paws, curling their forearms
like Stephen Curry setting for a three-pointer
in winking sunlight moving Melinda to wonder out loud
Why are squirrels always shaking their tails?
Marco studies a moment as busy gray sausages
scramble up and down ridges of shaggy bark
in spirals, in zigzags,
handsome Marco who seems always alone,
and he says They look like furry penises.
Melinda and Marco gape at each other,
It’s the moment of all animals,
Marco buries his face in hands in mock horror,
and he shakes with laughter.
It could have gone worse.
Instead, it gets better.
I phone your sister
breaking, in one go,
her night’s sleep
and her heart.
tea that I’ll forget to drink,
the door shuts
and I slip out of my shoes,
snug myself in tight
shift and wriggle ’til
we make our proper shape
in the way you
like to have me
to their familiar work,
whisper-singing all the while
that silly, secret, teasing song
we made up in our first days
as new lovers
in course of which I come to sense
– to recognise –
the customary, comfortable
rise and fall and rise of you:
of your breathing
– a physical hallucination
crafted out of habit by
some neural network
fathomed deep beyond
the reach of intellect,
too old and too set
in its ways
to comprehend that
breath’s no longer there.
It’s getting on
for half three when a
newly on-shift nurse
and awakens me.
I thank her
– though I’m not sure why –
from that which
and is no longer you
without looking back,
head off for home.
Alan looks and sounds like he has a genetic disorder and that’s a terrible observation that I do not express out loud only think it as I sit smirking while he stands ogling I’m useless broke devoid of feelings dense and uncouth I try to curl over to get a look at my parts inspect them in case I get lucky but there’s not a fool in sight if I can stop judging every worm of a man perhaps I could open my razor legs and permit a victim a glass of red wine some nuts at the bar thank you for the invite but I’d rather sit home wet crooning over Alan
My father used to point down that long stretch of Kansas road
tell me the state was so flat and the road was so straight
you could point a laser down the middle of that road from where we stood
and it would stay right on the dotted lane divider all the way to Nebraska.
Years later, I realized he must have been wrong about that
when my boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel driving back from Topeka
had the wheel locked straight and tight while he napped
cruise control holding the car at a steady fifty mph
right up until it didn’t.
MY LOST GLOVE
Today I saw my three-day-gone stray glove which sought for
undiscovered on the ground I found impaled on the tip of a
spear in a wrought-iron gate whose opening required
an intricate dexterity a trick of naked fingers.
This explained the ornamental aspect of the entrance
to the cemetery draped in single gloves and mittens
which with serendipity so blended in well
with the choice of floral offerings
– tributes to that boy-racer who last April
muffed his steering mounting the kerb to die
ironically crashed into what was to be
the entrance to his destined plot
of final resting anyway i.e. the gate post
– thus accounting for the bent sticky latch
and poignant rows of hand warmers.
These singletons un-paired un-stealable really
I left to wait for their true matches though
one particular soft-lined leather number with two
patches I rather liked. I trust she visits more than once
a year or on that fleur-de-lys it shall decay
mate-less empty firmly spiked.
Susan J. Erickson
a Golden Shovel poem
“Fuck” is now a poetic cliché to avoid, I
opined in a recent workshop. I do
want to add that at least three, if not
four, of the group’s poems let us know
the author was fearless and sexy—which
meant the “f” word was dolloped on like srirachi to
see if the reader would gasp and admit they prefer
ketchup. Instead I wanted to be offered the
concupiscent curds of Stevens, taste the beauty
of those savage sounds and hear the whistle of
his blackbird. The white teeth of inflections
can dazzle. Does fuck do that for the poem? Or
are you fucking-up the poem? I ask the
questions because force-fed clichés, beauty
becomes as larded with fat as foie gras. All of
what I say is confidential, even the innuendos.
Karin L. Frank
THE EAGLE HAS FLOWN
the radio blares
trajectories of escape.
At the familial table,
father and daughter
break the backs of crabs.
Crammed into rumpled pockets
mother’s fists exert planetary forces
as she stalks behind their backs.
A tinny voice
declares triumphant distance,
“Touchdown, Tranquility Base.”
Two-thirds of a family hoists
earthbound glasses of bitter ale
in mutual salute.
POST SALAD DAYS
I wish I could run
I wish I could
leap tall fences
in a single bound
I wish I could climb the ladder
to the roof, clean the gutters
or set the points, change the oil,
adjust the carburetor
I’m glad I navigate
without a cane most days.
I don’t need a wheelchair just yet
I still drive on the freeway and
on familiar roads at night
I remember your face
and my phone number
My children are familiar but,
my grandchildren are generic
A saving grace is at the rate I move
I won’t ever have to buy new shoes
HEY WHITE GIRL
Hey, white girl, what you doing in my school?
don’t, twitch your hips, lick your lips at me
you think you’re special because you one of four or five
don’t blush, act shy, try to rush by
Stay your frail, pale ass right where you are
you in my country now and you ain’t the queen of shit
you ain’t in no soap opera or on the movie screen
you ain’t the woman in the commercial or the sexy siren
I ain’t King Kong or Bigger Thomas or Willie Horton
Your baby blue tears don’t move me at all, fuck your pleas
you the mother of the madness that consumes us all
your maternal breast the fountains of racist unrest
you just as innocent as Stalin, Hitler, and Mao
That’s why we grinding in the hallway
fucking under the stairwell
swapping spit in the parking lot
copping a feel under the wheel
talking under our clothes
on the phone at midnight
ALONG THE CONNECTICUT RIVER
I hike the high bank
of a take-its-time river.
Meadow birds sing
their happy-to-be-alive songs.
A dead tree hangs out over the water.
Last year’s leaves dangle and expose
this year’s nest, where baby birds
weave and nod, wait for food.
A background hum grows into a buzz
like a swarm of angry bees closing to attack
and a drone swoops over me.
Once above the river it spins, hovers.
It and I stare through a world gone silent.
The babies scrunch down in their nest,
still exposed to the blue, blue sky.
My mind dredges up a Navy memory.
Away the Emergency Response Team!
Prepare to repel boarders! I stand
on the ship’s fantail, M14 shouldered.
I shove the thought back down,
turn for home, my hike interrupted.
Out over the river, the drone parallels me.
In my attempt to ignore it, I shiver.
My military days are far behind me
but sometimes I wish, aah,
I just wish.
SMALL STORY OF A CALM SPACE
I envision them in Victorian costume,
she in a silk gown and dainty shoes,
he in waistcoat and top-boots.
With poise and a certain diffidence,
she plays the complicated novella
of their lives on the grand piano
as he listens beside her, the scene
far from the outside world,
unspoiled as black coffee
on a moonless night.
A GAELIC GROTESQUE
There once was a bloke from Dun Laoghaire
whose life had grown waoghaire and draoghaire,
but a Dub girl named Caoimhe,
with a talented baoimhe,
succeeded in making him chaoghaire.
Then one day that daoimhe named Caoimhe
caught wind he was planning to laoimhe,
and run back to Dun Laoghaire
with a man he called “daoghaire,”
so she severed their bond—with a claoimhe.
WITH APOLOGIES TO LEIGH HUNT
Say I’m beery,
say I’m bad,
say the Bull of Life has bucked me,
say I’m far too bold, but add:—
Jenny fuck’d me.
WHAT WAS AT STAKE
I was a mess, sixteen, skinny,
pimples on my cheeks and chin, lousy at sports,
hopeless at schoolwork, awkward around girls.
It was either write miserable poetry
or wander into the forest after dark
and chance meeting up with one
of the castle denizens.
One bite in the right place
and I could have joined the undead,
but I stayed in my room
scribbling my wretchedness on paper.
Instead of roaming at night,
preying on the unsuspecting,
I stalked the pathetic creature I was,
with dour metaphor, raw feeling,
made my agony manifest.
I could have been
both feared and desired,
gliding up walls,
slipping through windows
seducing young virgins
with hypnotic red glare.
Instead, I’d just nervously
hand them the poem,
whisper “read this”
and make my quick getaway.
Yes, as a vampire,
I could have been killed
with a stake through the heart
But, as a pitiful poet,
I had to live with one.
KILIFI ALL DAY
Scarlet bright bougainvillea
drop down from terraces
where ravens swoop up.
Kenyan women delighted
by their bodies swing and
sway as they cross the street.
Swahili music sings joy
from the swaps and shops.
Why is everyone smiling?
Swindlers white and black
swore to promote and protect,
then picked their pockets
but could reach no further.
Lois Marie Harrod
WHY THE MESSIAH DOESN’T COME
He doesn’t have gas money
He’s busy with graduate work
He’s doesn’t want Mom to think
he misses her eggplant and lemon lasagna
He’s surfing at Noosa
He’s trekking Limpopo Province
seeking the brown false shieldback cricket
Later he’s busy with kids
or paving his driveway with a rolling pin
or busy discovering that he is
a woman in a man’s body
or a man in a woman’s body
passing for a man
or maybe he’s tri-sexual
like Aunt Lily with her ambiguous callas
or one of those IVF eggs
with DNA from three progenitors
or he put the visitation on his calendar
and then there was that tornado
that tsunami that wiped out most of Bangladesh
that damn toilet that drowned his cell phone
And, anyway, isn’t it the Father
who is supposed to visit the Son—
not the other way around?
THE WRONG-WAY BAT
The wrong-way bat
heads north for winter,
leaves his hot orange dream in Tampa
and flies to Tennessee
where he finds sleep
in chiller caves.
to the bottom
of the bed
where the sheets
AUTUMN OR FALLING
A bird too fat
sends a note of shrill sweetness
and Nature laughs
I’ve been down this road before
and the potholes
look like all the others.
But he’s a man
with eyes the color
of wet streets at night.
And this just became
a pay later kind of day
first flush to cherry
fresh as wet paint,
as mighty fine bloom
whiskered and velvety,
set to purring
as it waits
Leave two Bibles by the bed
on your way out —
a Hail Mary fail-safe just in case
the first one doesn’t work.
Fall to your knees
and plead with God
to come down to Earth early
just to strangle the sin out of me.
I’ll be waiting by the
light of “no vacancy”
on the street corner of
self-destruction and salvation,
but only short.
Your cameo-brooch gaze and colorless,
clenched jaw remind me
that I’m not the type of person
you’d like to share afternoon tea with.
I’m out of place in your
Brocade parlor, among the fine China
and grandfather clock, whose pendulum swings
to stay away from me.
Your steady shoulders
and board-stiffened spine make me
painfully aware of my curves
me into what you might prefer.
Your porcelain facade cracks
And smile lines form.
Julia Caroline Knowlton
WHEN WE MAKE LOVE
When we make love, just what kind of love
are we making; the kind where you wear black
and I wear white, and we float near blue flowers
in a sky, in a painting? Or the kind where we walk
down a city street in tweed coats, crunching autumn
leaves under our feet, then go our separate ways?
I do not know where I go when your force washes through me.
I know that all emotion is mere water, falling in more water.
Who can say what hidden stones might be moved.
Who can say what part of the wet ground might stay.
Miriam N. Kotzin
Where is the woman in the violet blouse?
Only a moment ago she stood on the lawn,
gazing towards the scarlet Adirondack chairs
arranged around the fire pit. She is not leaning
against the porch railing, her face tilting up
in the Indian summer sun. She is not poised
on the stairway, her face vacant as though
she has forgotten. She is not perched
on a mossy rock, her shadow canting
across the lawn. Nor is she standing
with me on the balcony as I spy on my
husband below, working at his easel.
As you see, I am not in the picture.
That violet blouse would have been (really)
something in one of those scarlet chairs.
she kicks off her oxfords
turns on the HiFi
rockrockrock around the clock
we sway our hips
she swings around
rock, rock, rock, ’till broad daylight
we dip and fly
Henry invites her to a 3D movie
i pout cry nag stamp
like a wild horse
mom says Yes
Sissy and Henry
take big splashy steps
hold the umbrella close
i hop over puddles
pull my yellow slicker tight
they don’t look back
hurry up MaryClare
Henry enlists in the Marines
a photo arrives
next to a skull
i steal the photo tear out
the skull to save
in a stack of holy cards
under St. Clare
No man has received from nature the right to command others. Liberty is a gift from heaven, and each individual has the right to enjoy it. . . Any other authority comes from either the violence of an individual who has seized it, or the consent of those who have submitted to it by a contract between them and the individual on whom they have bestowed [conditional] authority.
Encyclopédie Raisonné Volume I (1751)
He knew – running cracked hands
through lice-crimped hair amid the trickling
stench of sole confinement
in the dungeons of the Fortress
of Vincennes – more nuance
was required: that reason must glide
by indirection, worming its way
past brutal guardians of faith
to lodge its lantern
in each individual mind.
He sensed – proud disbeliever,
foe of colonies, sworn enemy
to toxic slave trades –
that glib satirizing plays
were not enough: a comprehensive
summary of human thought
must push beyond plush theater stalls
to where the soul of free invention lies
to liquefy those damp stone walls.
He wrote – as canny editor;
by other names – dodging
police raids by dense logic trains
that buried in their coded texts
on Switzerland or tradesmen’s feats
hereditary right. Maintained
all rule without consent
is mere idolatry.
Produced three dozen volumes
plus a constitution for
Great Catherine: first line
‘We the People here proclaim.’
But left his most important works
for publication after death
secure that censors could not jail
ideas breaking out of books.
Bequeathed their coruscating light
to ‘future spirits’ – us.
Few pens have made
encyclopedias works of art
or turned their numbered entries
into manifestos that moved hearts:
subverted iron tradition and sparked
risings for which thousands died.
His legacy comes due each day —
to question gilt pronouncements
and engraved beliefs.
Or trust them; and subside.
Lisa López Smith
I AM NOT
I’m riding the bus through Guanajuato state,
sitting next to a guy whose bus ticket says
his name is Alejandro Guerrero, and I bet
that’s a name he made up to sound as cool
as he looks with that slicked back hair and
nonstop texting with all-the-friends,
because I usually adjust my name
on bus tickets too, so I’m not “Elisa”
except on buses or at the shops, although
I like it better than my real name. I’m not
American either, unless you define it as a
person from the continental Americas—which
I would, so I am. And I’m not a pirate or
wild sweet peas or a musician—
but if I could be something I’m not,
I’d be a musician. Though really, poetry
is good practice for busking to passersby
who don’t stop. I’m not a keeper of the time.
I just watch it drift by in days, and rocket through
the years. I’m not clouds or mesquite or brand
new Michelin tires on an old car, but I am
on a journey. I’m not wool socks or the scent
of fresh-ground coffee, but I am the very definition
of Home to my children. I might just be someone
who dreams across Guanajuato, thinking of being
someone I’m not—maybe a cloud, or wild sweet peas,
or a pirate.
EL DIABLO (THE DEVIL)
The Devil lives just down the road.
He drives a rambling old Pontiac—sky blue DIY paint job
with an F-150 emblem glued on the back.
The Devil came over last Thursday but
he couldn’t stay— ‘cause his cows got out.
He built us a metal screen door to keep out the flies, and
I ask Luis how much we owe The Devil,
and we laugh—he only takes cash, thank goodness.
The Devil’s face is sunburnt brown, creased, fierce—
both at work and speeding down the highway in that Pontiac,
with that soldering flame-throwing tool and the
decrepit ladder that he always goes around forgetting.
We asked José where The Devil got that nickname,
and José said that his stepdad said,
‘cause he was so ugly.
The Devil replies with silence, keeping his humour hidden and rusty,
like holy bits of scrap metal scattered across his junkyard, while
gently tending the garden along his fence like a temple,
his prayers for mercy coming out in curses.
We saw the Pontiac in town and
The Devil offered us a ride home,
his car overflowing with the six grandkids he’s raising.
We thank him anyhow and he gives us some mangoes from his tree
and a parting blessing.
I can’t help but wonder that if the Devil’s namesake
here on earth is any indication,
maybe the flames of hell could be used for soldering shelter
for people in need, and baking bread for the hungry.
Perhaps Hell is actually just Heaven’s hearth.
herbal scent of new soup
steam under the red door
after Henrietta disappeared
smell of death in the air
Bluetail turned and walked
away along the green path
hens followed along leaving
sad memories of Henrietta
behind the blood red door
Under the burning glare of
of the ice cream shop
on a steamy summer vacation night
I cheated the man
out of a dollar or so,
wordlessly accepting the change
in my palm,
when, our eyes meeting, you saw
the look on my face.
You looked up at me,
What did you learn when,
as soon as you got outside,
your scoop hit
the pavement with a plop,
your eyes spurted tears
with instant disappointment,
and we went back inside
to the same man
who gave you
J. C. Mari
AT THE GERMAN PLACE
she drove in
one county over.
a few blocks
away from the place
and she didn’t remember
the area too well
so i met her halfway,
a train-station hug
and a few half-kisses later
she’s drinking beer
and i’m guzzling scotch
at the German place.
phrases i shower her with
because of her
i give her an
copy of my book.
i scribble a quote in latin
from someone dead
2000 years ago
in lieu of a dedication.
kinda shitty but
it’s been a long time
and i don’t
know what to write to her
a one-fits-all type
if only because
things are always
at some level of
all the time
she wants to know
what it says
and i engage
“you’ve got a
figure it out”.
she amicably calls me
an asshole and
pinches my arm.
i guzzle the whiskey fast and
karma and mine
must be pretty bad
to be here together
on a friday night,
after more than 20 years,
she cackles and
beer comes out of her nose.
we both know it’s true.
only happen in massage parlors
and you have to pay for them.
THE LEGACY OF ELMS
What I remember from childhood
was not so much their stateliness––their
hallelujahs of upward limbs poising
in procession up the long avenues––
but the day they came down: how the tall
plumb ranks they formed suddenly diminished
into jumbles of sticks and stumps, and the for-
granted shade they gave left forever,
so even the cloudiness of that day
had the blinding effect of making
the world too bright to really see.
Decades after, I found one last tree, alone,
in a field, its limbs lifting the air back up
as if loss had no weight, no substance at all.
I have no taste for it.
I wish I had a sweet tooth.
The smell of gingerbread,
of boiling sugar for the windows –
We all have vices.
Mine is that I like to show,
My oven can fit an adult easily,
never mind a child!
And then I heard the door slam
and smelled skin bubbling
Often sitting at the bar
at El Compadre on Sunset Blvd
eyebanging air before me
I imagine I am Gene Watson
on the cover of his album
Should I Come Home (Or
Should I Go Crazy)?
I try not to write poems
about country music
because the poetry demographic
and my children’s need for food
yet here we are here I am
going crazy having just taught
the Metamorphoses then
Pinocchio stabbing in
between with a corkscrew
my left hand which my father
forced me to throw from
as a right-handed child
because he wanted me to be
Sandy Koufax and he couldn’t
see he was an anti-Semite.
I still can’t throw from my right hand
and am raising Jews
with my father’s last name.
Mobile home is mobile
vengeance I’m almost
A STRAIGHT BACHELOR’S LAST RESORT
Lying in a dentist’s chair
a middle-aged hygienist grunts
as she scrapes the tartar from my teeth,
feet curl from sensitive gums.
She tells me her husband
no longer finds her attractive.
With the taste of blood in my mouth
I emit a pitying hum.
Looking deeply into my eyes
she says she knows how to use
every centimeter of the human tongue
and is willing to show me if I want.
Her breast pushes up against my shoulder.
I could tell her I am not interested
but rejection might turn
her dental pick into a dagger.
I could tell her I am dating someone
but it doesn’t seem like she would care.
Gently pushing her hand away
I tell her I am gay
that Bill and I are very happy together.
There might even be
a church in Vermont
with our names on it.
Her face crinkles in disappointment
resembles a Renaissance fresco.
She mumbles her congratulations
tosses a little tube of toothpaste on my lap
and tells me to floss more often.
CONVERSATION IN ABSENTIA
My dear but incurious grandchildren,
I’ll have you know your great-grandpa Joseph,
in a howling whiskey rage,
shot your great-grandma Anne, then himself,
while I stood near. I had just turned 5.
Posterity had no appetite for recounting
those shorted lives, their bitter ending,
but lineage alone survives our graves.
I fled that god-forsaken farm,
sheltering with neighbors who put me to work
tending their chickens.
Which you saw me raise from chicks,
coddling the pullets, butchering the roosters—
Did you not notice
how I coolly wrung their necks,
severed their heads with an ax,
dunked their corpses into a steaming vat
to separate feather from flesh
then rendered the carcasses into pieces
I fed you with sauerkraut and dumplings,
that butchery knotting muscle to your bone?
Times were hard in 1906.
Though such acts deserve no understanding,
death insists on transparency: you must stomach
the whole plate that’s been served you.
A BALLET LOVE STORY
Down in the seats of the school’s auditorium, he surveyed her leap across the stage with bountiful grace and wished he could be the one to catch her. As it stood some no-name freshman with thick arms was charged with saving her. But he wanted to do it. He wanted to feel her silk dress and skin against his calloused flesh. After the show he followed her to the cars, cold nipping at his standing hairs, threw her against her car door and kissed her. She stomped on his foot and kneed his groin. “What the fuck!” she shrieked and sped away. He was left under the moon, its own arms wrapping around him. He glanced right and left, found himself alone and masturbated to the remaining taste of her on his lips.
LEAVE ME ALONE, JOHN MARVEN
Twenty years later, he finds me.
“Wow, you are successful,” he writes.
I don’t tell him about the moons between
my teeth, the fog I bleed each month,
the wind that laughs my hair.
At night I hold my ovaries
beneath my tongue, savoring the roundness,
the salt. Each one tastes
of the child we could have had.
Mornings I walk the beach
with the dog, our invisible child eating
sand around my feet.
“Feed,” I whisper, touching
her lips, her breath warm and stinking
of the sea.
I wrap my breasts with fireweed, with
poison baneberry, I sink my teeth inside
wolf blood, I lick my invisible child
clean, so clean. We run on water,
steal loaves and fishes. On Sunday
I burn pages from my grandmother’s Bible,
the Virgin Mary singing my dreams, her dark
hair, her unshaven legs.
My invisible child catches jelly fish
with her hands, drapes seaweed across her belly.
Nights the tide escapes
the beach, we steal raven eggs,
hold them in our palms,
holy gifts. We lick the fragile shells,
milk our tongues, our teeth gentle and fierce.
We never speak—what would we say?
We are cursed with memory,
blessed with lies. We bleed, but only on Tuesdays.
Art is everything at once.
He saw most clearly
on dark nights in winter,
from a yellow-lit room
through a window wall facing traffic:
headlights oncoming, taillights offgoing
skittering windows, rousing shadows,
amid the frigid bliss of neon,
above the pavement glistening,
beneath the snowflakes swirling
under the connate arcs of streetlamps
endlessly at attention,
and endlessly at ease.
Different hours, different days, different seasons
he sat by that window waiting.
On these nights he waited still,
not wanting to prove unfaithful,
as he felt the nighthawks had,
abandoning windows with
their creator looking on.
On his last night, five minutes before
they found him slumped in a corner booth,
his right index finger still wrapped around
the rounded handle of his coffee cup,
a small shadow danced across his table.
Wendy L. Schmidt
PATH TO THE MOON
If for example I were to say lupine
and you didn’t know lupine
and then I said blue
you wouldn’t know which blue
and if I said deep blue almost purple,
you still wouldn’t see it
which is why I want to grab your hand
and drag you up Dufur hill
where if you kneel between rabbit brush
and the miscellaneous grasses
and peer through the blooming lupine
you can open your arms to embrace
the long ridge of the horizon
and the whole little village down below
until the words furtive and false-hearted
drop out of your vocabulary
in this most absolutely perfect week
of a year of perfect weeks
here on the top of Dufur hill
where Linda and Sandy have left a bowl
and a plastic gallon jug full of water
in case someone’s dog might get thirsty
DUFUR PARK ON THE SATURDAY BEFORE EASTER SUNDAY
Bundled toddlers, close to the ground
over a lawn of scattered pastel eggs,
each tiny kid clutching a fancy bucket —
Pick them up, urges a bent grandfather,
Like this, say the mothers, leaning down.
The round toddlers squat in place, stuck
and confused, their chubby legs wide apart.
Pale sunlight tries to illuminate gray skies —
nobody here in the park is ready to rise.
said to think, I thought not but instead made
my mind into a birdcage with wings
Pennee’s mom comes each morning to send my brother and me to school, opens the door and cries, Fly away like a bird in a gilded cage! We cross French Lea and someone’s backyard, up the long sidewalk to a door by the playground. One day it’s muddy and thick footprints follow us.
The p.a. says Walkers dismissed! but my coat sticks in my locker. I pull so hard, buttons are missing. Mom sends a letter, the principal tells me, Write down who you think took them. I don’t know. He presses. Weeks later, I find the buttons wedged in the hinge. I whisper to the boy, I didn’t believe you did it, but he pushes past me.
Another morning as I’m leaving, I say, If a bird is in a gilded cage, how can it fly? She never says it again, even though I want her to.
I’M JUST SAYING
I was asked to write the preface for Suicide Notes from Fifty Successful Suicides. I have never been asked to write a preface. I have never been asked to write anything. For anyone. Ever. So why me? Then I got it. No one else would touch it. Suicide is contagious. Getting too close makes you think of tall buildings, sharp knives, the tiny pink pills nestled in orange vials. Or maybe hoses in the garage, the rusty gun in the attic, a thick rope tied in a tight noose. (Check out YouTube’s Knot of the Week.) Right now I am thinking of the gas oven, greasy rags under doors. Or making toast in the bathtub. Or the tempting can of Drano tucked under the sink. Right now I am thinking of my Ex who is suing for back child support. Only five years, give me a fuckin’ break. The landlord threatening eviction. The shocking pink slip from my boss who said I am a lousy losel. I looked up “losel” in my Webster’s. Slammed the dictionary on his hoary head. A soothing relief as time’s fuse shortens. As the fifth act draws to a close. But first I must write a note. Send it off to be included. No need to write a preface. I’m just saying.
WHAT WE DIDN’T KNOW
On the day we knew
how depressed she was,
she sat on the floor crying,
holding her Yorkie,
her musk perfume gripped
the air so tight
it smothered the room.
Her outburst of smiles
would put a brake on tears
every so often,
a sign we took she would survive
and not need watching eyes.
What we didn’t see
was the suitcase
full of empty vodka bottles hiding
under a bed or holes in the ceiling
from two practice shots
made by the rusty revolver
stashed under a pillow,
biding its time until
we kissed her goodbye
and went out the door.
not for us,
many, many, many fine submissions
truly many fine pieces. Insert statistics here.
this does not reflect on the quality
of your work,
or reflect our
innate disgusts. metaphors molested,
another moon related poem.
we wish you the best with this piece,
no we don’t
we want sex submissions. experimentation,
mutilated corpses and endless fucks,
for it is free, a bulwark against
if you do not experiment,
you are a lickspittle, a toady of the
so be exiled, moon,
and flowers and mothers in
for these are not cynical,
may your submission be relegated,
best of luck with this,
to the dustbin of rejection history
DIMINISHED THING: A CENTO SONNETIZED
Making a famine where abundance lies,
alone and pensive, I delight to stray;
I am the dog that dies.
The lone and level sands stretch far away,
filled with creatures filled with dread;
we feel the obscurity of an order, a whole.
Remember these three things: ball, sorrow, red.
It’s strength for darkness. Burrowing like the mole,
much have I travelled through the reams of gold
into my final six where all will be revised,
some borrowed sonnets in my pocket, old.
Breathless with adoration, I cunningly devised
a little netherworld under the broad suns,
this moment’s monument, under-said & over-sung.
First eight lines, in order of appearance, from: William Shakespeare, Charlotte Smith, James Merrill, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adrienne Rich, Wallace Stevens, Rafael Campo, John Keats
Title and final six lines revised from: Robert Frost, John Keats, Billy Collins, John Berryman, William Wordsworth, John Donne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edna St. Vincent Millay
THE FAIRER SEX
Older women tend to crochet
Older men tend to get crotchety
D AND SMOKED FISH
he brings smoked fish
wedges of cheese that melt-
oh, the heat from
jugs of kombucha
he is proud of himself
he is courting me
he is, maybe… nervous?
i circle the kitchen table
we circle the kitchen table.
tear the bread
push the cheese into the opportunities
of the baguette
nudge the head off the kippered trout
shall we go upstairs, he asks
letting me pretend to arrive at
a different conclusion, a different response
as if there was any answer other
than a breathy, bursting ‘yes.’
ONE-LEGGED GUITAR PLAYER
He puts his pants on
same as everyone else
one leg at a time
twice as hard
only half as much
since he stepped on a land mine
Ain’t a helluva lot to do
with a one-legged soldier
learned to play the guitar
on morphine convalescing
Neighbors hear him playing
through the closed doors and windows
of his one room kitchenette
They leave him alone
since he got his hands around the throat
of an old bald-headed hippie
with straggly wisps of hair
on the back of his head
braided into a strip of rawhide
Dude, play Stairway to Heaven he said
His hands are strong
He uses them like everyone else
and doesn’t take requests
At the lake I loved to swim and I was
good at it. At home in the water like
a fish. I wished I were a mermaid and loved
the feel of my hair in the water, imagined
the scales of my tail, muscular and smooth. I dove
beneath the green shadow of the dock,
to the ladder that lead up to the planes of the sun.
I squirmed and wriggled through the opening
under the water between the rungs. It was
easy. At the bottom of the ladder was
a smaller space, a half rung where the ladder
ended, sunk into the bottom of the lake. I eyed
it often. But I knew if I entered it I would get
stuck and not come up again. I thought about it,
and even now I think about that cool
convenient exit. How seductive and why?
Why would I even imagine it, having survived the
similar exits of too many friends? Why does it still
beckon me? I must fight for my mermaid self,
fearless and muscular, sluicing through the shadows,
splashing just to make noise, calling to the gulls
who call back to me, translating their calls
into my own tales, surfacing in the moonlight,
resting on a flat rock, combing my seaweed hair.
NOW AND ALWAYS
So it’s the birthday of the fiancé of my daughter
and on social media his mother posted
photos of him as a child and of him and
my daughter and the photos of the young
lovers brought tears to my eyes, the
relaxed closeness, the unfeigned happiness,
the beauty of their skin.
I was happy for them but
I was also jealous and sad for myself
thinking of sadness and tragedy
and friends lost to death’s dark night
and I could really think myself
into a funk as I was counting off
my worry beads of mistreatment
and heartbreak but then I thought
I might as well go to dance class.
There were only two of us there and afterwards
we told each other stories. Sherry’s husband
wanted them to give away their dog
because he thinks they are too old and ill
to manage a big young dog. Linda is
working two jobs until the insurance for the
second job kicks in but that’s not till
January. I told how I had gone to the
attorney to update my will because I have
to be responsible about my daughter and
also that odd thing where I was bending over checking
the air in the tire at the service station and had
to jump out of the way of an SUV which
nearly crushed me up Niskayuna way.
So on the whole we are all just
lucky to be alive. On the way home I
stopped at the little natural foods restaurant
where I can count on finding Mary Pat
my friend of thirty-six years and then at the
Belmar where I ran into the birthday boy and
my daughter and they both hugged me and
we talked and they smiled and as I walked
out to my car in the cool night air I realized
once again how strange and lucky and
terrible it all is, all at the same time, now and
she is wearing a red dress with little yellow flowers embroidered on the collar /he has her foot in one hand/a pair of white tights in the other/they look at each other/he looks away/when he touches her/it is too rough/the girl looks at a cobweb in the corner of the bathroom ceiling/he pulls the tights up to her thighs /his hands rest/ where the tights haven’t touched yet/are goose bumps /he slides his hands to her knees/then to her waist/ lifts her up off the dryer/sets her down/she yanks and pulls at the tights/ until they reach beyond her belly button/at the bus stop/he holds her hand in his/tells her that later when she gets off the bus /he will be waiting/the girl looks down at her ankles/where the tights are beginning to pool and wrinkle like loose skin/she imagines his hands peeling her/ like a banana/like a scab
THE MAN WITH THE BROKEN NOSE
he is your father/ but not your father by blood/ he tells you stories about your father/ none of them are good/ he will lie to you about many things/ he doesn’t lie about this/he told you how his nose got so crooked/you can’t remember if it was his father who did it/or those boys in Florida that called him a faggot/or was that the story about his chipped tooth?/he tells you stories/ the girl he lost his virginity to in a tent when he was 12/how he wears his hair long because his father used to shave it/how when he was a kid/he used to stuff fire crackers up cats assholes/ you are a kid /you love animals/ you laugh because you have to/ when he tells stories he is kind/ even if they are stories about mean things/ your mother doesn’t listen to his stories / she is too sad to talk/ too sad to look at you/ he looks at you/ you are looking away/ look at me/ listen to me/ where are you going?/ and your name/ he says it like an order/ like you are a dog/ he uses the word obey/ when you don’t know what a word means/ he makes you sit on his lap/ read the meaning to him from the dictionary/ he wants you to know everything he knows/you know to listen/you know to keep him talking/ in the silence/ there is only his breathing/ then his weight/ so heavy/you know this story/ the one where the little girl has a nightmare/and never wakes up
AFTER MY DIVORCE
I was on a date with some guy
I met online
he fingered me outside a bar
I remember thinking
thank god I am drunk
I remember thinking
this hurts but at least I feel something
I remember thinking
I should stop wearing skirts
I was wearing underwear
but it didn’t matter
his fingers were calloused
and he jammed two in me
as if he were trying to find something
I took him home
he dry-fucked me
without a condom
he said nothing
I said, “ow”
I went to the bathroom to vomit
I heard him leave
I passed out with vomit in my hair
after my divorce
I went on a date with a 55yr old
he looked younger online
if I squinted he looked much younger
he had blond hair
and wore cowboy boots to make himself appear taller
he invited me back to his place
I was killing time
I laughed at the artwork in his hallway
oil paintings of sad clowns and portraits of lone cowboy boots
he told me his grandma had painted them
I wasn’t sure if he was serious
so I fell silent
he gave me a valium and a cheap beer
after an awkward bath where he repeatedly
asked if I liked what he was doing
as I stared slightly above his head
the valium kicked in
so we went to his bedroom
and he tried to fuck me from behind
with a brittle lamb skin condom
that I was sure was from the seventies
perplexed that I wasn’t getting wet
he sucked on his fingers and jammed them
this went on for a long time
I pretended to come
he cleaned his cum off my back
with an American flag bandanna
after my divorce
I only ate meals
on the days my daughter was home
not because I was starving myself
but because time ceased to exist
when I was not taking care of her
when she was away
I watched tv and cried
ate crackers for dinner and drank wine
on the nights I did not have dates
which was often
I obsessively cleaned the house
until I had nothing left to clean
I would drink, smoke cigarettes
and read my old journals
highlighting the parts in them
where my ex-husband abused me
after my divorce
I became a regular at a shitty bar
I would stay until closing time
like all the other lonely drunks
then go home to an empty house
read my tarot cards until dawn
hoping to see a future
that wasn’t this
IN THE BACK OF A TRUCK HEADING WEST
My lover has chosen another
and I should feel humiliated,
but the sky flirts with me,
makes rose-breasted clouds
cast blue shadows onto the desert basin,
transforms it into the enormous lake
of my homeland,
while a caressing wind
lifts the long strands of my hair
with expert hands.
When I stubbed my toe
on the highchair leg,
I was happy
that what came out
was not a curse,
but a stream of nonsensical
And when I slammed
my thumb in the jamb
of her dollhouse,
my daughter only saw
my head inflate
into a big red balloon
with steam whistling
out of each ear.
at my bulging eyes
and forehead veins,
for an encore.
So when I saw
the older girl
push my daughter,
I scanned the park
for her father.
The fat fuck
with the ice cream cone?
with the blue jogging shorts?
I walked over
ready to beat him
until my baby laughed
and clapped at the birdies
circling his head,
until his eyes turned
to X’s, and his tongue
hung out from one side
of his mouth, so
my daughter could point
and laugh at the little angel
floating up from his chest.
MY BELOVED FEEDS ME DIRT
Today my beloved teaches me the word geophagy
and suddenly I see myself, now and always.
I remember, from now,
from inside this articulation,
how once I asked my first husband to strip down
and run through the forest naked.
I photographed him,
hoping to plunge him visually
into a philosophy of being
which I understood in my body
Instead, all I got was a handful of shots,
which, after years of hiding beneath my underpants,
I became nervous with and shredded.
I had hoped he would be revealed a man of the woods,
you know, a vibrating clod of enunciated flesh,
but when I looked at the photos
he just seemed a skinny Sasquatch
out of place in a mall.
Some years later we divorced.
My beloved raises his hands full of dirt and says,
“Know yourself and everything there is.
I wanted to be alive
like a human being
from out of history,
a man with a coat alert on a chaise,
or a woman stayed by a bodice,
and so I stuck myself with corvid feathers.
I wanted to pound to pound to pound on heaven
and so I fucked some books
against a wall
and stuck my fingers
inside myself (kaaaarr).
I wanted to sing sweetly
like an angel
or a mom
and so I chirred quietly
to my little ones (giaaaa)
through the soft waft
of steam that rose
from a well-cooked pot roast.
I wanted to believe
my skin would stay.
I wanted to hear God say
(in lines, not tongues or heavenly gestures)
words that would remain.
I wanted hell to vanish.
To not exist. As it doesn’t.
Except here. Except sometimes.
Just vowels and consonants
Just bloody vowels and lousy consonants
If I were telling the truth, I would open my mouth and scream
If I were telling the whole truth, I would open my mouth and —
Just cunts and socks
Just bloody cunts and lousy socks –
THREE TEENS SLEEP IN A TENT
…the waste of the seed of the self
Stains in the shaggy hide, and they know it not.
~ William Everson
At first I think of stray mittens,
the two red wagons staggered
through the long backyard,
cast-offs on the journey
toward the mouth of the tent,
the wood charred and plinked
upon itself, a child’s
abandoned game of pick-up sticks,
but with the spring rain ripe
and the grass burning green,
I’m awoken sober as to clatter
to the world’s eternal awakening.
The idea of their bodies glows,
ancient dark flames fanned
between rind and dense electric flesh,
innards of the rouge vif d’etampes,
the yard looking less like childhood
and more like a gaping seduction,
wagons, singed wood,
half burned sticks that pierced,
then taunted and flaunted
their marshmallow’s skins,
socks and gutted slick packages,
all their taking off-s, dismantlings,
while they sleep inside, those wild
young buffalo, those purring heaps
of husky wilderness,
inside the tent,
inside inside inside,
ten times the size their shells!
They have no understanding,
those terrible living beasts,
aroused through ambrosial selves,
drunkened by world and each;
can’t tell their hooves
from hands or feet;
Roy J. Adams is a semi-retired Canadian-American professor whose poetry has appeared in literary magazines, including Rat’s Ass Review, in Canada, the U.S.A., Australia, the United Kingdom and Singapore. His chapbook, Bebop From Beau’s Caboose was published in 2018 by the Ontario Poetry Society and his first full book of poetry from a trade press has just been published by Silver Bow Publishing in British Columbia. It is available at http://silverbowpublishing.com and from Amazon.
Pamela Ahlen is program coordinator for Bookstock Literary Festival held each summer in Woodstock, Vermont. She organizes literary events for Osher (Lifelong Education at Dartmouth) and compiled and edited Osher’s Anthology of Poets and Writers: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years at Dartmouth. Pam received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the author of the chapbook Gather Every Little Thing (Finishing Line Press).
A multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including Slipstream, Rusty Truck, Chiron Review, Stepaway, The Five-Two, Outlaw Poetry, Empty Mirror, Otoliths, and Ramingo’s Porch. His published books include Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at http://jeffbagato.wordpress.com.
F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.
Alan Bern is a retired children’s librarian with books from Fithian Press: No no the saddest (2004) and Waterwalking in Berkeley (2007); greater distance (2015) was published by his broadsides press, Lines & Faces, www.linesandfaces.com. Alan won the Littoral Press Poetry Prize in 2015 and was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Center for the Book Arts Poetry Chapbook Competition. Alan performs with dancer Lucinda Weaver as PACES and with musicians from Composing Together, http://composingtogether.org/
November 2018 marked Robert Beveridge‘s thirtieth anniversary as a publishing poet. When not writing, he makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Medium Chill, San Pedro River Review, and South Broadway Ghost Society, among others.
Teresa McLamb Blackmon is a retired high school English teacher. She received an MA in English from NCSU and an MLS from NCCU. Teresa lives on a farm in eastern North Carolina. She has had poems published in Toasted Cheese, Absinthe, The News & Observer, Poet Lore, Cellar 101 Anthology, Nochua Review, and various local newspapers and community publications. She loves spending time reading, writing, crafting, and enjoying her donkeys, goats, horse, and two adorable pups.
Henry Bladon is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Somerset in the UK. He has degrees in psychology and mental health policy and a PhD in literature and creative writing. His work can be seen in Potato Soup Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, Mercurial Stories, Forth Magazine, Tuck Magazine and Spillwords Press, among other places. Henry also runs writing support groups for people with mental health issues.
Mark Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. He is the author of Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press), Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes from the Underground (Moira Books) and the forthcoming text based art book, Dream Streams (Clare Songbirds Publishing). His video, Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death, was selected to the 2018 International Experimental Film Festival in Bilbao, Spain. He is a 2018 Audie Award Finalist for his contribution to the original audio book, Nevertheless We Persisted.
William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as Poetry London, PRISM International, In Between Hangovers, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, and The California Quarterly.
Kat Bodrie’s prose and poetry have appeared in Waymark: Voices of the Valley, West Texas Literary Review, and other online and print publications. She writes for local magazines and teaches English in North Carolina. Learn more at katbodrie.com.
Jacob Butlett (he/him) holds an Associates in General Studies and a bachelor’s in Creative Writing. In 2017 he won the Bauerly-Roseliep Scholarship for literary excellence, and in 2018 he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for his poetry. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Word Fountain, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives barefoot in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of three books, and five chapbooks, her most recent book, The Mercy of Traffic, came out this month. For more information, check her website at www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com.
Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses as carpenter/contractor in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast. joecottonwood.com
Ken Cumberlidge: 6ft 2″ / 194lbs. An older example of the breed, but keen to learn new tricks. Good around the house. Can be left unsupervised in mixed company with minimal risk. Recent evidence can be found variously online (Algebra of Owls / Allegro / Ink Sweat & Tears / Message In A Bottle / The Open Mouse / Picaroon / Pulsar / Rat’s Ass Review / Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis / Strange Poetry / Snakeskin / etc.) and on his Soundcloud page:
Donna Dallas studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at NYU’s Gallatin School and was lucky enough to study under William Packard, founder and editor of the New York Quarterly. She is recently found or forthcoming in 34th Parallel, Sick Lit Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Beautiful Losers, Chiron Review and Bewildering Stories, among many other publications.
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry collections are A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy (Alien Buddha Press).
Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including The Journal, Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Stand and The Transnational. He lives in the creative atmosphere of Totnes in Devon, U.K. often walking along the River Dart for inspiration. He has yet to make a first collection.
“In Confidence,” using lines from Wallace Stevens “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, is Susan J. Erickson’s first Golden Shovel poem. Her collection of poems, in women’s voices, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, won the Brick Road Poetry Prize. Susan lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest. Her poems appear in Rattle, Crab Creek Review, Verse Daily, Sliver of Stone, The Fourth River and Terrain.
Karin L. Frank is an award-winning author from the Kansas City area. Her poems and prose have been published in both literary journals and genre magazines in the U.S. and abroad.
Since 2014 Frederick Foote has published over two-hundred-fifty stories and poems including literary, science fiction, fables, and horror genres. Frederick has published two short story collections, For the Sake of Soul, (2015) and, Crossroads Encounters, (2016). Frederick hosts the Prose and Poetry Meet Up group and is a member of the INK writers workshop and is currently preparing a short story collection manuscript.
Retired Navy, James Fowler lives in Charlestown, NH, and has over two-hundred fifty poems and over fifty short stories or flash fiction published in various journals and anthologies. He edited the poetry anthology Heartbeat of New England (Tiger Moon Publication, 2000) as his final practicum for his Master’s in Environmental Science. Finishing Line Press published a chapbook of his Japanese forms, Connections to This World, in March, 2012. His book, Falling Ashes, was volume VII in Hobblebush Press’s Granite State Poets series. In 2015 he retired after thirteen years of privately teaching poetry. He spends his time on various town committees, most of it for the Conservation Commission and the Library Trustees.
Meg Freer grew up in Montana and lives in Ontario. Her poems have won awards and have been accepted for publication in chapbook anthologies and journals such as NatureWriting, COG, Young Ravens Literary Review, Eastern Iowa Review and Literary Nest. In 2017 she won a writing fellowship and attended the Summer Literary Seminars in Tbilisi. She enjoys being active outdoors year-round, taking photos, and running, and wishes she had more time for writing poetry.
Dan Galef has been an actor, a teacher, a printer’s devil, a dictionary definition, and probably some other things he’s forgotten. Besides poetry (in New York Magazine, The J Journal: New Writing on Justice, and The Christian Century), he also writes short stories and plays—including The Bottomless Pit in the Back Room of Nick’s Speakeasy, now up at the Théâtre MainLine in Montreal.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.
James Hannon is a psychotherapist in Massachusetts where he accompanies adults and adolescents recovering from addictions, disappointments and illusions. His poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Soundings East, Zetetic and other journals, and in Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets.
Lois Marie Harrod’s 16th and most recent collection Nightmares of the Minor Poet appeared in June 2016 from Five Oaks. She is continually published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. Visit her online work at www.loismarieharrod.org
Michelle Hartman’s forthcoming book, Wanton Disarray, along with her other 3 books, it is available on Amazon. Hartman’s work can be found online, in multiple journals here, and various countries overseas. She is the former editor of Red River Review.
Award-winning poet and photographer Ryn Holmes originated from the bottom and top of California before residing along the Gulf Coast of Florida. She is a partner in K & K Writing Services, a co-editor of Panoply ezine, and has written and photographic works in several journals.
Bec Kashuba, despite majoring in Writing and Publishing, isn’t all about poetry and creative nonfiction. Remember Silly Bandz, those animal-shaped rubber bracelets? Bec almost got detention for dealing them under the radar after his elementary school banned them. When he’s not hawking rubber bands, Bec spends his time at his Pittsburgh home drinking black coffee and writing things that concern his mom. He thinks Margaritaville should be classified as a unique form of torture.
Julia Caroline Knowlton holds a BA degree in English/French from Duke, MA & PhD degrees in French Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. A Professor of French at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, she is the author of a scholarly book, a memoir, and a poetry chapbook. Her accomplishments include an Academy of American Poets College Prize, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and a fellowship from Antioch . She is currently focused on polishing and publishing her first full-length book of poems. Her author www site is: http://juliacarolineknowlton.agnesscott.org/
Miriam Kotzin teaches creative writing and literature at Drexel University. Her collection of short fiction, Country Music (Spuyten Duyvil Press 2017), joins a novel, The Real Deal (Brick House Press 2012), and a collection of flash fiction, Just Desserts (Star Cloud Press 2010). She is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, Debris Field (David Robert Books 2017). She is a contributing editor of Boulevard.
Mare Leonard lives in an old school house overlooking The Rondout Creek. Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches through The Institute for Writing and Thinking and the MAT program at Bard College. Finishing Line Press just released her new chapbook and The Pickled Body recently nominated a poem for a Pushcart.
Michael H. Levin is a lawyer, solar energy developer and writer based in Washington DC. His work has appeared in two chapbooks and dozens of periodicals or anthologies and has received numerous poetry and feature journalism awards. His collection Watered Colors (Poetica) was named a Best Poetry Book for May 2014 by the Washington Independent Review of Books. WIRoB named his recent collection, Man Overboard (Finishing Line Press), a Best Poetry Book for December 2018. His third collection, Falcons, is in process. He and his wife Nora Jean Levin wrote and co-produced Two Pianos: Playing for Life, a historically-themed event with live classical music about young women pianists performing under and after the Third Reich that premiered in Philadelphia June 2018 and is on its way to Leipzig Germany plus other venues. See www.michaellevinpoetry.com
Lisa López Smith lives and writes from her home in central Mexico. When she’s not wrangling kids or goats or rescue dogs, you can probably find her riding her bike. Recent and forthcoming publications include Coal Hill Review, Lacuna Magazine, Mothers Always Write, Masque & Spectacle, Rise Up, and the Esthetic Apostle.
Bob MacKenzie‘s been published across North America and worldwide in journals including Dalhousie Review, Windsor Review, and Literary Review of Canada. He’s published eight books of poetry and been featured in numerous anthologies. Bob performs his poetry solo and with musicians. With the group Poem de Terre, he’s performed his poetry live with original music and released six albums. Bob’s latest book is “somewhere still in wind the tree is bending” (Silver Bow Publishing, 2018).
Jack Mackey lives in Southern Delaware and Washington, D.C. He was recently chosen by the Delaware Division of the Arts to participate in the bi-annual Writers’ Retreat. His poems have appeared in publications from Darkhouse Books, the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, and The Compassionate Friends.
J.C. Mari resides in Florida. He is the author of the poetry collection ‘the sun sets like faces fade right before you pass out.’
Tim Mayo’s second volume of poems, Thesaurus of Separation (Phoenicia Publishing, Montréal, 2016) was a finalist for the 2017 Montaigne Medal and the 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award. His poems and/or reviews have appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, Avatar Review, Barrows Street, Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, Poet Lore, Salamander, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Web Del Sol Review of Books. He lives in southern Vermont where he works in a Mental Hospital.
E.V. McLaughlin‘s writing appeared in Awkward Mermaid, Bangor Literary Journal, Panning for Poems, and Rat’s Ass Review. Her poems were longlisted for Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2016 and shortlisted for the Fresher Writing Prize 2017. E.V. loves coffee, books, and city lights and lives in Co. Down, Northern Ireland with her husband and son.
Jason Morphew started life in a mobile home in Pike County, Arkansas; he holds a PhD in English Renaissance Literature from UCLA. TheWashington Post calls Morphew’s full-length collection dead boy a “striking debut … presented with an edginess and sharp intelligence that make the poems pop.” He’s shared stages with Claudia Rankine, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Joe Wenderoth. As a singer-songwriter Morphew has released albums on the labels Brassland, Ba Da Bing, Max, and Unread. He lives in Laurel Canyon and teaches at local colleges and universities.
John Muth was born and raised in central New Jersey. For the last eighteen years, he has been an academic advisor, working for Rutgers University. Some of his poems have appeared in San Pedro River Review, Verse-Virtual, and US 1 Worksheets. His latest book, Odysseus in Absaroka (Aldrich Press), was published this year and can be found on Amazon.com.
Darrell Petska‘s poetry has appeared in Verse-Virtual, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Rat’s Ass Review and widely elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Darrell has tallied 30+ years as university editor, 40 years as a dad (six years as grandpa), and a half century as a husband. He’s a Wisconsinite.
S.J. Relandi is a budding self-publish author. She is pushing into the published world to bring her works to a larger audience. She dabbles in poetry and experimental flash fiction, but deals mostly with long and short fiction.
Cinthia Ritchie is an Alaska writer, ultra-runner and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Find her work at New York Times Magazine, Evening Street Review, Sport Literate, Rattle, Best American Sports Writing, Mary, Into the Void, Clementine Unbound, Deaf Poets Society, Forgotten Women anthology, Nasty Women anthology, Gyroscope Review, Bosque Literary Journal, The Hunger Journal and others.
R.D. Ronstad is retired and lives in Phoenix, Az. He writes humor pieces as well as poetry. His work has appeared or will appear on the literary humor sites “The Big Jewel” and “Defenestration” and the poetry site “Bindweed Magazine.”
Wendy L. Schmidt is a native of Wisconsin. Her art appears here and here. She has been writing short stories and poetry for the last ten years. The Four C’s; cat, chocolate, coffee, and computer are her chosen writing tools. Pieces have been published in Daily Flash 2012, Haunted Object, No Rest for the Wicked, Verse Wisconsin, Chicago Literati, City Lake Poets and a number of fiction and poetry anthologies.
Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Recent books are HOUSE OF THE CARDAMOM SEED and NOVEMBER QUILT.
Karen Schubert is the author of five poetry chapbooks, most recently Dear Youngstown (NightBallet Press, 2019) Black Sand Beach (Kattywompus Press) and I Left My Wings on a Chair (Kent State Press), selected by Kathleen Flenniken for a Wick Poetry Center Chapbook Prize. Her poems and creative nonfiction have been published in Best American Poetry Online, Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, Lake Effect Poetry and Winning Writers, and performed at the Cleveland Humanities Festival. Her awards include residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Headlands Center for the Arts. She is Director of Lit at Youngstown in northeast Ohio, and blogs at http://karenschubert.blogspot.com/.
Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.
Mary Sesso is a retired nurse who volunteers at the National Children’s Center where she sits on the Human Rights Committee. Her Poems have appeared in a number of journals and her chapbook, The Open Window, was published a year ago by Finishing Line Press.
is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. He is the recipient of two Honorable Mentions from Glimmer Train and has had work nominated for The Best Small Fictions. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in journals such as Train Lit Mag, Bended Genres Journal, Sinkhole Mag, and Gravel Magazine. He lives in Fort Collins, CO.
Jacquelyn Shah (M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D.–English literature, creative writing) has received grants from the Houston Arts Alliance and her work has appeared in journals such as Cranky, The Texas Review, Anon (Britain), and Rhino. She has published a poetry chapbook, small fry (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and a full-length poetry book, What to Do with Red (LitFestPress, 2018), and is a recent winner of Literal Latté’s Food Verse contest.
Paul Smith writes poetry & fiction. He lives in Skokie, Illinois with his wife Flavia. Sometimes he performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago. He believes that brevity is the soul of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should be cut in half immediately.
Elizabethanne Spiotta is a poet mother widow chaplain who often wonders if she will ever get her head out of the clouds. She is living the good life in the country on the water.
Sixty-eight years old, of Cherokee/German extraction, Tom (WordWulf) Sterner is a writer, vocalist and multi/media artist. A native of Colorado, he lives in Westminster, Colorado. He writes and performs music with his sons, Tommy and Zedidiah. His music, poetry, stories, artwork, and photography have been published in magazines and on the internet, including Howling Dog Press/Omega, Skyline Literary Review, New American Dream, The Storyteller, Carpe Articulum Literary Review and Flashquake. http://wordwulf.com http://wordwulf.org email@example.com
For her sins, Susan Thornton teaches French at a high school in Endicott New York. Her work has appeared in Rats Ass Review, SoFloPoJo, Best American Mystery Stores 2016 and Dark Fire Fiction. Her memoir, On Broken Glass: Loving and Losing John Gardner, was published in 2000 by Carroll and Graf, NY.
Michelle Tinklepaugh (aka Watters)’s poems have been published in various literary magazines. Her most recent publication in Misfit Magazine is a pushcart nominee and she has a poem forthcoming in The Inflectionist Review. Michelle lives in South Burlington, Vermont with her husband Jeremy and her daughter Annabelle.
Peggy Turnbull is a poet and librarian who lives on the border between ecotourism and the industrial midwest. Her poems have recently appeared in New Verse News, Ristau, MOON Magazine, and the Origami Poems Project.
Ed Wade expatriated from the US in 2012 and has since lived in the quaint chaos of Hanoi, Vietnam. There, he writes and lectures for the Professional Communication department at RMIT University. Ed’s latest poems can be found in Rattle online, The Comstock Review, Sport Literate, & The HitchLit Review. He is currently seeking a publisher for a poetry chapbook entitled The Mise en Abyme Jokebook.
Erin Wilson‘s poems have appeared in, or are forthcoming in, The American Journal of Poetry, The Adirondack Review, San Pedro River Review, Minola Review, The Hunger, SWWIM, Dying Dahlia Review, Juked and Kestrel. She lives and writes in a small town in northern Ontario, Canada.
Edited by Roderick Bates
RAT’S ASS REVIEW SPRING-SUMMER ISSUE 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED