Mojave River Review Fall/Winter 2017
Mojave River Review Volume 3 â€¢ Number 2
Publisher/Editor Michael Dwayne (aka MD) Smith Associate Editors Epiphany Ferrell Jennifer Glover Bonnie A. Spears Arlene White Contributing Photography Editor Frank Foster “I will never know a single thing anyone feels, just how they say it, which is why I am standing here exactly, covered in shame and lightning, doing what I’m supposed to do.” —Matthew Zapruder DECEMBER 2017 Cover image and other photographs copyright © 2017 Frank Foster, excepting “Letters Never Sent” images © 2017 Nicolette Reim. Journal design by MD Smith. Copyrights to individual works published herein belong to respective authors and artists. Mojave River Review is published by Mojave River Press, an imprint of Mojave River Media, Inc. All rights reserved © 2017. Guidelines are available at MojaveRiverReview.com. MRR re-opens for submissions in 2018. Friend and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
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Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll The Famous Hollywood Movie Director Explains Snow in Delaware Between Inhales James McManus Glitter Gulch Pee Break Glitter Gulch Pit Stop James Claffey Velazquez in the National Gallery A Triptych from “Inverted Memories of My Father”: Come Away O Human Child — Birth to Puberty Melissa Hassard Heritage Kyle Hemmings How Mike Bloomfield Died Happy Accidents Beate Sigriddaughter The River Rowing Upstream Les Epstein A New Orleans Dive Lisa Badner Music Festival Eric, My Dead Friend Nobody Put a Gun to My Head Kenneth Pobo Gardening for Dad Days of 1962 Gossip From 5,763,920,000 KM Away Heather Sager Discovering Implausible Street
FEATURED ARTIST & POET 35 Nicolette Reim—Letters Never Sent Two Poems Artist’s Statement Gallery Exhibit 54 Arya F. Jenkins A Man Delivers Himself to Light 58 Ace Boggess I Loved the Feel of a Guitar Attack of the Giant Leeches 60 Mark Madigan Helpless in Manila 62 Leslie E. Hoffman The Last Selfie 63 Catfish McDaris Payback is a Figment Delving into the Vicarious Inscrutability 65 Ryan Quinn Flanagan A Couple Cold Ones in Blaine County Hooray Tortoise Ola Francisca Makes a Mean Tamale 69 Joseph E. Lerner Sputnik, October 1957 72 Anastasia Jill Vida What She Says About Losing Her Skin 74 Gail Braune Comorat City Without a Safety Net Elegy with Summer Nights, Fireflies, Iced Tea, and Old Neighbors 78 Darrell Herbert Cantus Firmus 80 Jim Bourey -30-
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Traveling by Train, 1966 G. Louis Heath Pine Dervishes Lorraine Caputo Vigil David S. Atkinson The Flavor of that Brachâ€™s Milk Maid Royal Was Either Memory or Prophecy, though that was Overwhelmed by Vanilla Caramel Irene Fick Before I Knew Second Opinion Marlene Olin Maggie and Me Marc Swan On the Deck, Harbor Below Yoke and Harness J. Bradley No Nate Maxson Objects in Motion Trajectory/Shadow Jake Sheff Derrick at Sea A Cloud on Fire Going to See the Yogi Alice Andersen Dark Chocolate Richard King Perkins II She Sees Mirrors Everywhere Electrical Seduction Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois Pages
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M.T. Evans Unauthorized Poem Rose Knapp Scene Sven Soren Kirke Koran Just Do Jour Jew DM & Either/Or DSM William Doreski Dead Poetsâ€™ Hotel Another Cosmic View Erin Wahl My Mother Asked Me Tonight if I'm Okay The Fire Meal Mick Corrigan Roadkill Concerto Ian Randall Wilson Somewhere Immanuel Kant Describes Beauty The Borders Close Anne Garwig Black Canvas Re: Definition Piet Nieuwland About to Mean As Many as That Vincent Zepp Self Portrait at the Lumiere Factory This Is the Nativity How Does a Gentleman Say If You Hold My Cannoli I Will Screw in Your Light Bulb Lynn Mundell To Do Cynthia Anderson Muir in the Sequoias How it Happens Roar of Glory
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Cheyenne Nimes The Delaware River Maximilian Heinegg Charlottesville Tobi Alfier Established in 1958 Rich Soos behind these eyes sliver Contributor Notes
Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll The Famous Hollywood Movie Director Explains how he morphed his film into a musical by giving minor characters— girlfriend, waitress, sister, wife— a solo: song of life not being girlfriend, waitress… in dark each actress strides on stage, intones her tragedy: her boss felt her up then fired her, she tripped on the stairs and dropped the pizzas for the office party, she sold her living room couch to pay for her abortion, and I hear my sister sing in tender alto of losing sons and husband, then all our mothers step from behind the curtain, belt blues we’ve never heard before and in the dark each of us asks what does this mean, is there a part for me
Snow in Delaware I drop rows of angels across the yard: chords across a measure. Lying down looking up, itâ€™s 1956 and flakes converge as if I were the vanishing point. I know by heart each white wafer, slide inside the pale tunnel my brothers gouged through drifts; eyes wide open I scope its walls, waver hymns, hallelujahs down its funnel. I carry hunger like I never could melody, tucked against the heart, heavy like a piano. Daily I practice piano, hard bench my fulcrum, run scales up and down, sight read everything, pedal sostenuto, no perplexity of pitch, press each key and know exactly where I am â€” ah, sitting there I practice being beautiful.
Between Inhales First time I smoked I breathed in dope, stared into starless eyes closing, dud, shortfall, write-off, my own black-hole irises cloudy with it like water in bad weather. Grandmother spent whole summers rocking on the porch, lifting Pall Mall, then Old Fashioned, never raised her voice though she lost her husband young: wounded lung. My mother’s sabotage: her own noisiness killed her dad— why I always wondered at her clamor, why wasn’t she soft-spoken like Grandmother murmuring of books and art between inhales. The pulmonologist tells me my CT scan shows cysts in both lungs, not normal, not abnormal, it isn’t clear— why this summer morning I wake knowing I haven’t lapped air all night, my dreams burned, the room filled with their smoke, I held my breath all the way to awake.
James McManus Glitter Gulch Pee Break Mook and Mope, digesting scorched onions and garlic and something dead-meatier in seats one and three here at Binionâ€™s, believe they know how to play poker. Hungover, card dead, I hold my breath, shiver between them, and fold my umpteenth unsuited deuce-five. (Bad luck that one cuff of my Leviâ€™s is rolled?) Outside, on the break, I breathe in 112 sweet-skunky degrees, squinting at what could be my granddaughters, mermaids, or elves in, seriously, I mean, not much but sunburn, war paint, Electric Daisy pasties, and knee-high Elmo-blue fur leg warmers as they sashay on by, vaping weed, or zipline above me, howling banshees, a blur. Down to eleven big blinds and not having peed yet, or been mowed (or mown) down by ISIS, I head back into the cryo-AC, desperate to find a big enough hand to force my small stack to its crisis. 13
Glitter Gulch Pit Stop A half-block-long candy-striped limo with midnight blue velvet upholstery to go with its funhouse-mirrored ceiling, just the vehicle for a couple of wild and crazy guys to swing with some big American breasts in their hands, idles curbside, in back of that turd Crazy Drag Race Willie in his mustard-colored ride, replete with a Geek Squad sound system honorably discharging Elvis, while a plush blond beauty queen signs an autograph for a star struck young fan as the fanâ€™s mother looks on. Mother and daughter have matching puffy cheeks, ginger bangs. Mom clearly wants Daughter to wear the tiara ten years down the road. Just as clearly, this will not happen.
A polite young man in dress greens, PFC D. (for Dâ€™Brickashaw?) Spires, waits his turn for an autograph, motivated by other desires.
James Claffey Velazquez in the National Gallery WE ARE POACHED EGGS and cracked shutters, medium rare steak and holding breaths together underwater. The day we visited the sea center and the octopus skirted the tank as you trailed a hand across the glass, I snuck a look at your face. The light fell on the soft curve of your eyebrow, catching the spark of the diamond in your nose-stud. Often, in the small hours when the screech of the freight train wakes me, I reach for the other side of the bed, but the space is empty, the sheets purple and cold. I visited you later that month, the tubes and lights and charts chronicled your descent. I held your hand in the brightness of that room, amazed by the translucence of your papery skin and the isobaric schema carrying blood around your body. We recited Eliot: verses of “Burnt Norton,” and I wiped the tears from your eyes with the side of my thumb. “Don’t be sad,” you said. “Be grateful for the times we’ve had.” Your pale, drawn features reminded me of the painting by Velasquez we stood in front of in the National Gallery on an autumn day, the violent shade of fuchsia blossoms studding the wall like puncture wounds.
From Inverted Memories of My Father: Come Away O Human Child—Birth to Puberty I What Was It Like in the House After the Baby Died? I don’t recall when the dead baby was born, but I imagine you said nothing for weeks while Mam keened in the upstairs in what should have been the baby’s room. Maybe you loitered on the landing, hoping she might say something to show you she was returning to her life, but she kept to herself and let you simmer in your own juices. It was the summer of Eisenhower, and you likely did your best to decipher the mysteries of the kitchen and keep yourself fed as Mam mourned. You took the loss hard, according to Mam. She said the hotpress sprung a leak and you went at it with a pliers. She lit into you on the stairs as the sodden carpet molded underfoot. “You do everything wrong,” she probably yelled. “A worthless lug is all you are.” Did her words peel the paint off your heart, and did you heave the brass cylinder over the banisters and smash it into the floorboards beneath? In the wreckage of the stillbirth did you rip the earth apart to plant a fresh seed?
II Where Were You on the Day I was Born? You were a blurred outline rumbling in the middledistance in the part of the room where the knitted mitts and tissuepapered clothing sat awaiting my arrival. Unborn, I nonetheless whiffed the chestnut polish of your brogues which sat above the knife-edge of your creased trousers. I existed midway between fear and discovery, small prince of my own island nation. Your nerves caused you to pace the landing outside the bedroom at night, your heavy tread sending faint showers of plaster and dust into the main bar area beneath. The shabby nature of our home was not quite revealed to me, except when Mam said she cursed the day she ever landed in such a dismal kip. When she napped she talked in her sleep; a habit I would adopt as a young man. Her muttering distracted me from the hubbub of the downstairs bar where every now and then a great roar would break out as talk turned to local politics and football. On the day Mam expelled me you were in the courtyard astride your white horse, “Captain.” Bound for the Westmeath hunt, your two fox terriers barked about the horse’s hooves. The blares of the trumpets called you away as the thump thump thump of the contractions grew closer. By the time I was on the horizon you were mid-way to Clara, in County Offaly, with half a pewter flask of brandy warming your insides, and me, back in the womb, a floating cluster of skin and bone.
III Where Were You My First Day of School? I sat at a rickety wooden desk, a picture book opened in front of me. Fastidious like you, my sleeves cuffed neatly, the collar of my shirt outside my sweater. You are not reflected in my face. Two large round eyes, clear white sclera, and the upper eyelids resting on top of the hazel iris. My ears are vestiges of Mam’s side, large flaps inherited from my maternal grandfather— the side you rebelled against for so much of your life. The only part that’s you could be the teeth: crooked, stained, off-kilter. Abandoned gravestones. Mam walked me to school with my older brother, two classes ahead of me, and my younger brother, not yet old enough. Did I cry? You cannot answer from the grave. I could ask her when I talk to her next, the distance of time perhaps allowing her access to those memories, even though she’s not capable of saying what she had for breakfast today. I wish you’d delivered me to the gates. I wish you’d held my tiny hand and told me it’d all be all right. Instead, you worked; doing what you did best, your part of the parenting contract. No matter. In the photograph, my face is sad, my left hand over the right, a stain on the dark wood of the desk in front of me. The darkness of the blot on the whorled and burnished wood contains your absence.
Melissa Hassard Heritage Covered in the sheen of a lonely work, I am clearing out the remnants of a marriage like shards of broken clay at my feet. I discover a young snake drowsing in the sun. I go for work boots and a shovel, like my mother taught me. My mother, who was afraid of snakes but could gaze down the barrel of a manâ€™s sickness and barely flinch. I never thought about how we choose our homes or come to live in the high grass of circumstance but this is what we do in the South, a sinister history of violence trails behind us. I return to find the delicate silver curl, beautiful and strange in the fall of afternoon light. A long moment uncoils and disappears. Imagine: the terrible chopping, the silver beads of mercury in the grass. Sometimes courage is a singular act of decency.
Kyle Hemmings How Mike Bloomfield Died Jim, my brother-in-arms, and I are waiting for the West Side Iceman to deliver blue sugar cubes. Lately, Jim’s been stuffing himself with street marshmallow and I’ve been shooting myself up with Z-aspartame2, smuggled from Eurasia Hop. Needless to say, we’re both down on pseudo-fluff and Crooked Horse. So, after the iceman arrives, we’ll both die happy, a coma deeper than the shitty basements where we wash our laundry, the rickety machines too slow to spin. the Depression a long line of stalled cars running on Where Am I?
Happy Accidents I woke up with a mistake longing in my gut. Outside the new maid was reclining in the backyard hammock, topless. My erection became introverted then sublimated into a vision: a waltz of schizophrenic sparrows. I decided to fire the maid, buy a robotic housekeeper with remote controlled intelligence, and maybe we all could get arrested for indecent exposure. I broke three eggs for breakfast. At least one was from a misbegotten chicken who couldnâ€™t cluck for the life of it. I was lucky with two. The third was the mistake I was hoping for. between funhouses and holidays the world flattens us into ribbons
Beate Sigriddaughter The River Its strength declares wild green indomitable presence, even across the desert. It carves canyons, casts capricious waterfalls with or without applause, it plays music you cannot predict any more than you could predict the jostle of a fine kaleidoscope. It listens in the sun and whispers eerie melodies of comfort and eternity. I want to sing to it: flow, river, flow, until I understand the magic of indifference, the sultry patience, dancing like a pilgrim among junipers and lilacs, alone by the blue thread of water, instead of stumbling in the wind of yesterday. I am not a river, I am bound to longing and dissatisfaction, and today I love all that. Let me carve crevices and canyons, passageways through mountains of unnecessary evil.
Rowing Upstream I wanted the truth. I didnâ€™t know where to begin. I tried gypsies, lovers, witches, wild women, angry women, healers, and I thought I had no fear. They glittered like the winter stars and all turned difficult when I approached to touch. Once more I heard the drums toward a river rolling like a giant through the wilderness. A quetzal bird had flown before and blessed me with green feathers. I stood in a boat and women rowed us, hurrying upstream. I had no shame there, I was needed and I didnâ€™t have the power yet to row. How strongly their muscles moved me, carrying the oars. I thanked them for their knowledge that I needed more than shifting, steering and translations between worlds: a will to learn and trust the truth, the strength to follow it. I was still looking for you.
Les Epstein A New Orleans Dive Grief numbered the clouds and they were few. He numbered squatters on the stairs ragged. So from the hot stairs, where the group feared the river, Gregor Grief, fully clothed, dove, with Louganis form, into the ‘Big Muddy.’ He passed the sign reading “Love Wins,” rumbled down molding wood, flew past the seven men he spent nights wandering the Quarter and hit the water. Grief said, “Warm! It’s all warm.” He slapped his emaciated belly about the shallows. His blue shirt served as a life preserver. It puffed wide; those passing in a nearby trolley might believe they witnessed a tiny blue whale. “You’ll drown, Grief,” shouted one of the remaining squatters. “God only knows what that will bring.” “I’ll be a bony rock in the river, an aquatic lover forever pressed in with ferns. And when the catfish nibble at my decaying toes, I’ll bet it will tickle row-by-row,” Grief replied raising a palm. No one swam after him. He was wanted only by the Mississippi. Grief dried by a Spanish Plaza palm. A gentle breeze hummed through its leaves and Grief considered one great breeze rising to take him palm and all.
Lisa Badner Music Festival Shortly after dropping out of graduate school, and after my mother sent my father from New York to rescue me from the Midwest lesbians, I attended a festival. There were eight thousand women. Most were lesbian. Many were naked. I went topless but not bottomless. I went with friends, who quickly found new friends. I sat by myself. Too stiff to dance to the music. Even though it was a music festival. I watched others dance and make out. Tall skinny blonds, wearing nothing but hiking shoes and belts swaying to Holly Near with large shaved Amazons wearing rope sandals and cloth fig leaves. I waited on long lines. Alone. Lines to use the â€œporta-janesâ€? which reeked. Lines for showers, which were cold. Lines for food, which hosted a bacteria â€“ making several sick. And then the thunder. Sweet Honey and the Rock 26
was rained out. I got lost trying to find my tent. Wandered through the S & M encampment: Women in dog collars huddled under tarps. When I found my tent, the floor was covered with filthy rain water, and floating cigarette butts. My tent mate â€“ my only hope of intimacy had moved out to a dry tent.
Eric, My Dead Friend When I was twenty, I told my best friend Eric that my life was a huge failure. I cried. A few years older, Eric told me it would all work out. We smoked cigarettes and drank Pepsi all night. We watched all the Hitchcocks. We made out (that was awkward). Eric was a feminist. Sensitive. Joined Men Stopping Rape. Cried when he watched the news. Tried to be gay (he told me) – less misogynist. We went to women’s music concerts. I called him an honorary lesbian. Then, he finished his PHD and got weird. Distant. Worked all the time. Never wanted to chat. Didn’t seem so feminist anymore. Wrote lots of articles I couldn’t understand. (They were quantitative.) He kept smoking. Eric was famous – well, in an academic kind of way. I decided, I wasn’t gonna call him anymore. And he never called me. I wanted to tell him fuck you for not calling.
Nobody Put a Gun to My Head I wrote a poem last year that I wish I didn’t write. An embarrassing poem, about allowing this older adult guy to violate me, in a sense, when I was a teen. Something I never talk about. But when thirty years later that very same guy’s girlfriend from thirty years ago ends up as my kid’s teacher, I saw the art of the situation. The irony was delicious and repulsive. So I wrote a poem. I should have deleted the poem or at least filed it away. I sent the poem out to magazines. (What would be the chances?) The poem was accepted. (I could have retracted it.) The poem was published. Now I can’t take it back. (Nobody put a gun to my head.) I show the poem to no one. I hide the contributor copies (Even though it is in print.) I pretend it doesn’t exist. I look on twitter. The poem was tweeted. I block the tweet. An email from the editor arrives in my inbox: a “superb” poem was the feedback, he writes. I delete the email. 29
Kenneth Pobo Gardening for Dad My ninety-one-year-old dad canâ€™t plant anymore, his knees too wobbly. I dig in three white New Guinea impatiens and twelve orange marigolds. His neighbors have peacocks, unruly screeches at dusk. Sometimes one comes over, spreads a blue parasol tail. In a chair by his door he watches flowers color on a gray table sky. Carrying an orange and white suitcase, summer turns the corner. Buds swell, miniature stalk symphonies played to roots and pebbles.
Days of 1962 The Yankees win the World Series. Cuba nearly coughs up nuclear war. “Think small,” say Volkswagen dealers. I think big. At eight, my magic carpet bedroom flies anywhere. Telstar. Did I see Mrs. Detweller doing the limbo? Pastor says that’s dirty. Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies. I ask my dad if we hid out in our basement after the bombs fell, would we save food for our neighbors? No, we wouldn’t. Avis: “We try harder.” I try to improve from the yellow reading group. Demoted. I hug stuffed animals. The squeak of next door’s swing set, a bird clearly dying.
Gossip From 5,763,920,000 KM Away Pluto drags her weary ass around the sun, Charon crabby clinging to her skirt. Neptune already has fourteen moons, captured Triton the favorite, his retrograde orbit proves his pluck. Pluto avoids love right now though her heart went pitty-pat when the New Horizons spacecraft came right up to her window and blew her a kiss. A curmudgeonly moon, Charon winced.
Heather Sager Discovering I wade into a fog bank, drift amid the darkness of fir trees. I place my hand into a glowing cloud, catching the last sunray coming from the ridge behind me. Did you keep your eyes closed? I remember my grandfather saying—when he was still alive, leading me down from brightness. If you didn’t, your eyes will adjust slower to the dark. It will take longer to see them. Eyes open, I wait. The gloom lifts. Below pine branches, on the underside of fallen Doug firs, along stumps, sprout many tiny mushrooms, visible as orange and red pops of color. I try and fail to identify Grandfather’s “safe ones,” the chanterelles. Disoriented, I step over delicate white coral shrooms that branch out like lungs. Taking care to not crush them, I stumble. Correcting my wily gait, I straighten. Nearby, a Clitocybe nuda’s purple button glitters amid the shadows. My heart races as I find that even here, my world’s not silent. Still so many tears are left inside me, so much sorrow—so much brightness and pain and forlorn love. My heart’s a rotten log bursting, popping, into life.
Implausible Street Once, on a street in Tijuana, the dusk came stealing in like soot, and I split from the crowd to follow a long street with my eyes. Amid the honking traffic, pimps sent out girls with dirty faces. But, rather than ending in city darkness, like every other street, this street headed toward an open territory. I saw the street’s many shops and awnings, its elegant line racing downhill. In the distance people and awnings got smaller. Then they vanished. On the far horizon, it wasn’t dusk at all. The sky was still blue. The long street ended in a country field, where corn might grow. The street, I could just make out, had turned into unpaved road. A bright green hill—wide as a castle— reached up into a white cloud, and was crowned by it. I stood near the traffic, split from the crowd.
Fall/Winter 2017 Special Section: Featured Artist & Poet
Nicolette Reim: Letters Never Sent
Nicolette Reim Walking
for my grandmother and the Womenâ€™s March, 2017 I imagine a black block spewing, the last train with doors unlatched, they squeezed out on shattered ice, the snow was blind, they walked down tracks serpentine, walked, crunching snow, there was no train and further to go.
I Pretended It Was the Moon You live here. Of course you killed yourself, across the street. When I knew what happened, shot through my mind, a sad story, red brick house like yours. I was thinking of my house. Two bangs heard. I, too, thought, a dog hit by a car, didnâ€™t occur, a wife fraught. Plots, lawns, asphalt driveways, big trees hauled away and we were small. My window blinds at night, it forced itself through, porch light, yellow glow you forgot to turn off.
Nicolette Reim Artist Statement: Letters Never Sent Exhibited at Noho-M55 Gallery 530 W 25 street, New York Sep 26 - Oct 14, 2017 ONE OF THE GREATEST INVENTIONS is the alphabet. It has given the possibility of preserving and understanding human thought. It is easy to learn. It has been utilized more in the past 500 years than ever before. The invention of type halted any further real development in the shapes of letters. Highly specialized, we have always read words as images. They are perceived as silhouette image-shapes made from actually little pictures. Writing has a long evolution and is a specific form of drawing. The movement from written word toward some kind of “sign” as the main communication tool emerged from the development of 20th century technology. This is a small shift, outside of proper context or previous knowledge, “signs” always need to be explained with supporting text. “Alphabet” is a generic term, there are many alphabets. I work with English alphabet letters as an art form exploring shape, rhythm and color. When logic is suspended and voices inaudible, what can letters evoke? If cohesion comes from pictorial harmony what happens and how much of that is not about thought.
Arya F. Jenkins A Man Delivers Himself to Light THE PRIEST CAME to see George and was moved by the fact he did not need to make a confession. With his practiced, charming smile, George waved Father Andrews away. Father Drew blessed him, then taking the frosty, well-manicured hand of George’s second wife Jean, a pale woman with a perfect coif, bid his parishioner farewell. “Save me a place up there, George,” he tossed back leaving. Then Jean stepped into the kitchen for a brief respite. Soon George’s children arrived--Alana, the first born, and her twins, Ellen and Jane. Then, George Jr., who had caught the redeye from L.A. Then Jesse, his youngest, whose kindness served as a balm. Seeing his brood together, George finally understood his time had come. Ellen and Jane pecked him swiftly then rushed, long hair flitting, into the living room to play board Scrabble with their uncle. Jesse placed one palm alongside his right cheek before she and Alana moved as one into the kitchen and began conferring with his wife in loud whispers. What did it matter now what they were saying? He imagined the sunlit outdoors, crocodiles frolicking in the pond out back, alternately sunning themselves or skulking up the lawn toward a surveying figure or distracting glint before retreating to their preferred habitat of scum. When the outdoors image dimmed, he focused on the surrounding cacophony of voices that he had once deemed so precious and revolted him now. 54
His one wish was to be able to turn on his side and descend into a long, dusky, eternal nap. Early that morning his longtime nurse Sophie had overseen hospice helpers as they took over her tasks, bathing and changing him. A nurse took his pulse and a social worker deposited some literature. George sensed Sophie near, her dark, heavy hands crossed over the lap of her uniform simulating repose. He could feel her strident wonder and judgment about the others like a slap in the air--why were they not in the room with him, behaving as they should? He had enough morphine in him to see yet not care and busied himself with the tapestry of a battle unfolding on the ceiling. “Sophie,” he said matter-of-factly, “do you see that tanker, all those men fighting. What a beautiful war.” “No, sir, I don’t see nothin’. Can I get you something?” “A little ice would be nice. Ha,” he groaned turning to her a little. “Did you hear that? I made a poem.” Presently, Sophie returned with some ice in a cup and dabbed his lips gently with a cube, then, at his insistence, dipped a sponge into some gin sitting on a tray on the bureau and let him suck it. George put a forefinger playfully to his lips and Sophie shook her head disgustedly, in the manner of their usual everyday interplay. When his eyes flipped up again, he saw his familiars standing around his hospital bed. “Huh, what is this?” he said. Jesse was at his right and his hand reached for her. She held it tenderly between hers, lowering her gaze, praying or sad, he could not tell. “Now, now,” he said. 55
The girls, who were 11, glanced at him as at a horror flick. Alana had on her dramatic look of staying above the fray. George Jr. held himself somber and still, head bowed, as if already at a funeral, occasionally raking his slender fingers through the curtain of his long hair. Jean peered seemingly through him while adjusting his sheet, her movements mechanical, perfunctory, the duties of the second wife who had already lost two husbands before him. He felt he should try to acknowledge her in some way. “No more mushrooms,” he told her, apropos of what? “No, no more mushrooms, dear,” she smiled upon him, but her eyes slid away. Now and at the hour of our death,” George heard himself say, finishing the prayer out loud that had manifested automatically in his Catholic-trained mind. “Jesse, say a prayer,” he said. “Be a good girl. Om,” he started for her. She was Buddhist and her chanting warmed some part of him. Alana gave her sister an approving nod. “Om mani padme hung.” As Jesse repeated the mantra, the twins’ gaze softened to one of curiosity and surprise upon their aunt. Then the phone rang and the frame of loved ones dispersed. George asked Sophie to press the button on the CD player so he could listen to Sinatra, whose songs he and his first wife had enjoyed. As he listened, the battle scene overhead turned into a milky void. The familiar songs absorbed the more remote sounds of laughter and conversation, catalyzing memories from long ago that arose as if from his own flesh. He tried to mouth, “I did it my way.” Night arrived and he thought it odd no one bothered to switch on a light or attend to his thirst, which felt endless. His 56
memories dimmed, all but a faint stream of sins committed so long ago they seemed not his, affairs whose effect at the time seemed nil on all but him. He could not even remember faces, although he strained, his expression moving Sophie enough to place another drop of morphine under his tongue and moisten his lips with a sponge. “Oh dear, oh dear,” he heard her say as she whisked away to hail the others. He sighed and sighed again, to let go of the niggling sense that he should reveal a secret, something of which he was sure. He had one more word to deliver now that he sensed them near. He could not see, only hear them and he whispered, “poison.” Then, was it a sigh of surprise or wind, he could not tell, whisking him away to uncertainty forever.
Ace Boggess I Loved the Feel of a Guitar Embraced the hollow, hardwood red acoustic. I pretended to know what I was doing, strummed for the fun of it as with children skipping rope: feet moving, going nowhereâ€” they enjoy their musicmaking, standing still in motion. Isnâ€™t that what love is? Play it again like you mean it, or until it hurts too much.
Attack of the Giant Leeches American International Pictures, 1959
Should’ve been titled, Rubes in the Everglades Get What’s Comin’. See them fall: the adulteress, the cad (coward), poachers yucking it up moonstruck on hooch straight from the jug. Sure, the asshole sheriff lives by his laziness, indifference, but who could blame him for not believing in massive mutant creatures made from NASA’s radiation, bloodsuckers big enough to scare the gators? Even the hero does dumb shit like dive, or doubt his best girl’s dad who’s school smart & life of the party with dynamite, eager too to blow things up because sometimes you have to destroy a world if you want to save it.
Mark Madigan Helpless in Manila It was a Christmas never to forget, traveling eighteen leg-cramping hours to see the new baby a few weeks after the New People’s Army killed three people at Clark Air Base. Security was tight & even small shops like the local McDonald’s had guards with machine guns clutched to their chests. Late Christmas Eve, my brother’s wife burst into the guestroom screaming there was fire raging next door at the Medical Center. Outside, flames were spitting through the walls where the hospital’s third floor windows dropped out. Fire trucks arrived, but no length of ladder or long arc of water reached high enough. Thin flakes of carbon kept wafting to the house, parachutes sparking orange in the dark. So, we slouched down into the chairs out on JP’s porch, staring at the scorch marks 60
already staining the hospital walls. There was nothing we could do except talk & drink JPâ€™s San Miguels until any threat from the fire burned out.
Leslie E. Hoffman The Last Selfie Until I took one too many steps backward, closer to the edge of the Hoover Dam bypass, it had been a good life. What an odd moment to recall an albatross named “Wisdom” being the oldest wild bird in the world, that is, per a scientist stationed on the Midway Atoll, and the last movie that made me cry, For the Love of the Game, when Billy Chapel pitched a perfect game, then retired his arm from the boys of summer. I’m still falling—against the wind— guess it’s going to be one of those days. I wonder how old that albatross is— they didn’t say.
Catfish McDaris Payback is a Figment Her gris-gris bag was leaking tears of blood, snitch bitches get stitches, she wouldnâ€™t listen Dead fish flopping on the ice waiting on a kangaroo to save its life and kick it in the water Dancing blindfolded with the devil in a mist of mystique, kissing his hot red lips searching for a precarious redemption Look inside me, see my heart it beats with pure love, but every morning there is a filthy buzzard salivating on my bedpost Dreaming about Buddha on his motor scooter, he sucker punched me when I wasnâ€™t looking knocked me on my ass and I had no shooter
Delving into the Vicarious Inscrutability Heartbroken and afraid of the mysterious, death everywhere, surrounded by germ warfare, rotting black plague victims flung by catapults, malaria, yellow fever, small Pox, napalm, dynamite, plastique, white phosphorous, bullets, nerve gas, sarin, ricin, fire, drones, poison, howitzers, mortars, nuclear missiles, machetes, spears, rifles Hey Mr. Canary, so youâ€™re the boss, where ever you go, there you are, youâ€™ve done some taboo things, the Wovoka is doing a Ghost Dance in your honor, quietly go home, now
Ryan Quinn Flanagan A Couple Cold Ones in Blaine County I was in this bar in Ketchum, Idaho, I don’t why, and this guy in streaky red cowboy boots walked past my table. He was coming back from the bathroom still pissing. His wiener dangling out like a shrivelled grape. And the barman threw his rag at the guy, who was so drunk that he didn’t seem to notice. He just kept walking right out the front door. At first, I choked on my beer thinking it a joke. A prank by one of the regulars. If it was a joke, the barman was definitely not in on it. I paid up and watched my step as I left. The barman cursing as he got his mop and pail from the back. By the payphone that had no receiver. And the dartboard with more holes in it than Bonnie and Clyde’s getaway car.
Hooray Tortoise little girl with one of those pinwheels that so entertain at that age her little brother swatting at it to make the colours go faster he is in a hurry to grow up this makes me sad the little girl keeps blowing the pinwheel so it moves she plans to stay here for now right in this poem which is best
Ola Francisca Makes a Mean Tamale All those colours in the jellybean jar, and we still canâ€™t find a way to live together, it would be infuriating if I still had that in me, all the vital organs I got them like decades of bad television pumping battery acid into the dying cosmos; Ola Francisca makes a mean tamale, her food truck is the most popular in the city, the way she takes love out of her bed and puts it in her food, her daughter Gloria takes the orders is naturally beautiful in the same way national parks are beautiful and off limits, which remind me: I have this closet of a room that I stay in these days, most depressingâ€Ś the water changes colour if you let it run for a while, not like the colours of the jellybeans, but at least it is something.
Joseph E. Lerner Sputnik, October 1957 THE WORLD’S FIRST SATELLITE has just been launched, and my brother, tuned in last night to the shortwave radio he and my father built, shakes me awake at dawn. “Weather conditions for a perfect launch are now.” I dress quickly and hurry downstairs where we grab our new diamond Hi-Flier from the hall closet. The neighborhood’s quiet, a few stars still out. Our kite rises and aims toward the treetops at the end of the block. Jerking the bobbin in one hand, he reaches in his jeans pocket with the other. “Here’s a quarter. Go to Pressman’s and buy more string.” My brother Jerry’s fourteen and I’m seven. Pressman’s is the corner grocery/variety store. The kite flutters and dives toward the treetops; my brother yanks the string and it reels upwards again. “Go!” he yells. I race down the street. I catch Mr. Pressman, whose family lives above the store, unlocking the front door. Dodging him, I grab a bobbin of string by the kite-bin and rush to the counter. “We’re not open yet.” He frowns beneath his walrus mustache. But he rings the cash register and the drawer flies open. As I leave, Alice leans from the upstairs window and waves. She’s Mr. Pressman’s daughter and in my third grade class. I blush, wave back, and bolt down the street. 69
The sun peers low in an orange-yellow sky. Leaves flit along the pavement. It’s Saturday morning, and the Russian satellite, taking 96.2 minutes to complete an orbit, has circled the Earth nine times. More children gather in the street while parents watch from the houses and front lawns. I hand Jerry more string, he ties the ends together, and the Hi-Flyer takes off like a dog unleashed. It sails higher, toward the next neighborhood. “More string!” my brother yells and tosses me another quarter. # I race toward Pressman’s again. I elbow past people in the now-crowded store toward the kite-bin. There are almost no bobbins left and I wish I brought more quarters. I wait in line clutching my string. “Hi Joey,” Alice says at the counter beside her father. She takes my money and rings the register. I hurry back. News of Sputnik crackles from a transistor radio. Jet contrails ladder the sky. The kite’s still visible, its string bowline-taut. Then it slackens and the kite tumbles. But my brother, like a musical conductor, plays with the line and it soars upward again. Adults join the children. Binoculars are shared. As the kite passes the sun I lower my eyes as if viewing an eclipse. Then I imagine I’m on a tightrope wielding a balance beam and climbing toward the sky. “More string!” Jerry shouts. 70
# The crowd in Pressman’s is gone as are all the kites and twine. Alice, alone at the cash register, smiles at me despite my crestfallen look. “I’ve saved something for you.” She reaches below the counter and grabs a bobbin of string. “Is this what you’re looking for?” I race from the store. On front lawns people assemble their new Hi-Fliers and many already are testing the air. And there’s an even bigger crowd in the street; they part to give my brother more room, and he leaps and twirls like a marionette, only he’s the master of strings. I walk toward him, breathless and hand outstretched. The kite’s invisible, but the line holds firm, sun glinting. Nearer the Earth, above houses and treetops, other kites bob like acolytes genuflecting to their unseen god.
Anastasia Jill Vida There’s a star shaped scar on her thigh full of tension. At one point, she loved stars. Not anymore. Now she loves scars since that’s what she is these days; collagen fibers and neon pink Band-Aids that have grown in around her skin. She knows this is no way to live, afraid of her head falling off. Her neck isn’t strong enough to withstand his mental fury. But I am, and together, we will be.
What She Says About Losing Her Skin “He replaced his skin with porcelain then made me take an acid bubble bath – sodium hydroxide claiming chunks of flesh and bone. They fell off my skull in frothy blisters like dirty water circling the drain. He left me on this...this distorted body, ugly. She found me, just as clean and whole.”
Gail Braune Comorat City Without a Safety Net Eight-twenty-eight. We clowns cluster in this walled city. Crystal chandelier above, dangling like an empty trapeze. No net. Today, the woman beside me weeps rose petals. Pink drops on dry cheeks. We strike matches. Soon, vines sprout beneath her hair, trail and writhe like wild serpents upon her shoulders. From her forehead, branches emerge and prickle themselves with thorns. She watches me watching her. Winks. Opens her mouth and sets free a canary, a yellow canary that leaves lemony feathers stuck to her lips like loose pieces of tobacco. The bird perches on the weeping womanâ€™s tree-topped brow and begins to warble God Bless America and I feel compelled to stand, to press hand to heart, to remove my hat, a brown bowler where pandas nestle in fur their mother ripped from her body 74
in the ecstasy of birth. One black-eyed bear smokes a pipe, puffs lopsided circles into the air. He slips a ticket from behind a crooked ear, plays it across his teeth. The train clickety-clacks into the station, huffing thick sooty rings. Three rings. Like in a circus. And we all get on board.
Elegy with Summer Nights, Fireflies, Iced Tea, and Old Neighbors Oh but those nights were glorious and full of us suburb kids scattered across our familyâ€™s linked lawns. Me, Betty, and Clothilde knelt in damp grass, hunting for four-leaf clovers and vanishing fireflies. Our world, redolent with charcoaled burgers and punk sticks we burned to deter mosquitoes. Moms and dads lounged nearby in sloped chairs, watching us and ruby sunsets. They rattled iced tea in metal cups that once held fresh cream, hand-delivered by milkmen who routed their way through unseen hours, godlike and alone. In every yard, golden rain trees and mimosasâ€”havens for hiding while we waited for someone to call: Allee, allee, all in free! Dear neighborhood, summer evenings were where we lived, our days extended from cicada whine to cricket song. Every window wide, our house breathed lazy honeysuckle air into bedrooms and dens. Vacant now, my summer nights. No more Good Humor hymns to anticipate, no neighbors dropping by with armloads of sun-warm zucchini. No screen doors banging, no hoola hoops and wiffle balls littering the drive. No rusty bikes, no sprinklers worrying the night. The terrain of my childhood has emptied. Dear neighborhood,
I still listen for echoes of old friends calling me outside. I yearn for heat-blurred darkness to rouse my favorite ghosts. Brown-eyed Clothilde, queen of hopscotch, lost to leukemia. Betty (my secret-keeper), beaming a flashlight from the woodsâ€”felled by a husbandâ€™s gun. Dearest friends, on summer nights, every vesper I say for you.
Darrell Herbert Cantus Firmus I understood society had no room for me And I had no room for society I never have To go to the respectable dreamy like society To the nocturnal side Was like changing sides in a war Itâ€™s like the blind leading the blind So empty so phantom empty No A revolver has a drum that revolves In the throats of love I was weak no match for her But the goodbye was sad Strangely unforgiven straitjacket I had a lover I dated her back when she was counting change She saw me a year ago and seemed taken aback By my confidence We hooked up and she judged my body And me I was angry For a while actually Now I sit here smiling for the strength of my love And resiliency lives on and on I was angry for years I was angry for many things From many people and many experiences My anger burned multiple holes inside of me 78
I know now I know how to fill these holes back up again Strength and resiliency lives on and on You can’t be peace and love If you haven’t tasted hate and anger You can’t love yourself If you haven’t sat with the looks of your many faces So my fellow humans we are dual The pain we have shapes the beauty we create Insecurities hidden around false pride Will get you nowhere Know that You’re as insane as I am
Jim Bourey -30Clouds rush by, brown and scrambled like eggs in a greasy pan, an oracle telling of hard rain this July evening. Upriver thunder, almost silent, insistent but not threatening. We assemble our tent high above rapid waters and wait. Wind rises as we nibble on energy bars, sip wine from a goatskin bag. Louder rumbles now. This will be our last night together.
Traveling by Train, 1966 “A corpse should be transported by express…” – Malcolm Lowry Traveling by train is a joy, so easy to relish the views, feel that fabled, often sung rhythm have a little meal meet for drinks in the bar car talk to a strange woman, a very slim, elegant woman, drinking red wine, with blood red lips. She laughs easily, even at my feeble jokes, tells me she is going to Omaha with her husband. He’s in a different car she says as we pull into St. Louis. She hands me a note, her compartment number, written in red ink. Come around ten. Our train stops often. Some get off, some get on. Later, in her first class room, I ask why she 81
is alone when her husband rides the same train. He sleeps all the time, she says, all the time.
G. Louis Heath Pine Dervishes The breeze rustles the trees as shifting shadows Play ground games. The cowboy in his line Cabin smells the new season on the wind. His Horse flares its nostrils, draws in the scent, and Drags a skittish hoof over scrub grass. Pine Needles in swirls blow over the land. The Musty, brown dervishes wobble in a brisk Show of shadow play, pirouetting silhouettes, Miniature needling tornadoes. Away from the Sparse forest, toward high stark rocks, they Rotate toward granite megaliths on the high Western slopes. The pine dervishes dance to Music unheard, the rhythms of annual retreat And decay. They twirl in an ecstasy of dark Nothingness this time of year. The cowboy, Flame deep in his eyes, hangs his branding Irons on worn pegs, to mark seasonâ€™s end. His horse knows it is time to leave the cabin. He sees the flame in those smoky, range eyes.
Lorraine Caputo Vigil A thin desert rain falls sharp upon my tin roof & upon the women seated against the wall, upon the men standing at the curb, all dressed in solemn black, all holding steaming cups, chunks of bread, the door open to a dark room bathed by candles flickering in the night breeze, bathing the flowers, the lace-covered altar, the gilt filigree frame of Nuestra SeĂąora of Perpetual Help.
David S. Atkinson The Flavor of that Brachâ€™s Milk Maid Royal Was Either Memory or Prophecy, though that was Overwhelmed by Vanilla Caramel MY UNCLE HANDED OUT CANDY from a coffin at the end of his driveway one Halloween. Scared the shit out of me. He dressed as a vampire and popped out when anyone walked by. I raced past to the house only to have to turn back to actually get candy, which I'm sure he thought was funny. I remember as one of many things that shouldn't have frightened me but did, masks and haunted houses and such, but then I thought how he didn't live long after, ran a car in his garage. Was I afraid because he was decked out as deadâ€Śor could I see where his life was going? It was probably nothing. I was scared by many ridiculous things then. Still, I keep wondering if there might have been more.
Irene Fick Before I Knew The bargained bliss of wedlock began to wither before we unwrapped the last gift, before I whispered to Mom, keep the receipts, before I stacked the melamine dishes in the new hutch, color-coded the towels, stocked the kitchen with so many pretty things I did not know how to use. I knew this: the knot of dread as the bottles ran dry, as he cradled his Johnny Walker, silent and slack-jawed on the new plaid sofa from Sears. I found his loaded gun, and I lost those long and hollow nights when he didnâ€™t come home. I turned to Mom and Dad, who called the Italian attorney, Anthony something or other, the one with fancy suits and a full head of hair, to fix my failure, to dissolve what began a year ago in a white march down a holy aisle, witnessed by family who flew in from back East, family who wished they had kept the receipts for all those things that would help me set up house, all those pretty things I didnâ€™t know, at 19, how to use. 86
Second Opinion Four hours from home, breakfast is bad. Stiff, pasty white bagels, bone-cold butter patties, coffee only a fish could drink. In one hour, I will meet the specialist whose words may doom me to return to this chain hotel off the Blue Route. One hour, and I may begin to know my motherâ€™s grief when she saw the specialist, who murmured malignant. I see her again, sinking low in the wheelchair, waiting her turn, hair uncommonly flat, face bereft of color, all traces of vanity gone. I see her closet jammed with new dresses, tags still hanging, her garden prepared for seed, her purse cluttered with to do lists, tubes of rose-colored lipsticks, a monogrammed pen. Once, late in her cancer, she awoke from a dream, then paused, cried out, I forgot I was sick. I trash my breakfast, walk to the car, lost in remembrance.
Marlene Olin Maggie and Me SHE’S BEEN TRAVELING since she was a puppy. Squished in her carrier under the airplane seat, Maggie stays curled like an embryo. She weighs seventeen pounds but looks heavier, the fluffy poodle hair inflated like random balloons. There’s no hiding her age. Her once black chin is dotted white, her eyes are cataract cloudy. Her hind knees--stiff and arthritic--manage a straight-legged hop. This will probably be her last summer in Wyoming. I count our time with her in days and weeks. When she was younger, Maggie hiked mountains, swam rivers, leapt over babbling brooks. Each night, she’d sit in my lap while I’d comb the ticks out of her tangled fur. Come on, Mom, she’d seemed to say, pulling her head, yanking her feet. Get it over with! Then she’d lick my face and sigh. It’s been twenty-five years since my husband and I built this cabin in the woods, this summer respite from the Miami heat and humidity. The years have taken a toll on us as well. Like Maggie, I've begun to lose my hearing. My reading glasses are never far from my New York Times. And when I trek up and down the foot paths, my knees lock while my back tweaks and twinges. I wake up in the morning aching all over and feel bushwhacked, blindsided by a hundred small betrayals, hoodwinked by a body that dies slowly, inexorably, one cell at a time. Though I’m told Maggie sees bits and pieces, she no longer has any depth perception. So like any wise old lady, she avoids risks. 88
Instead of lying on the couch, she sits at our feet. Instead of jumping onto the bed, she finds a rug. Stairs present the biggest obstacle. She can still figure out how to get up. It’s getting down that’s a problem. Instead Maggie stands at the top of the landing and regally surveys her fiefdom. Back straight. Chin raised. Ears cocked. Then she barks and barks and barks until someone climbs the steps, swoops her up, and carries her down. I can’t imagine how quiet and dark her world must be. Outside a great horned owl sits by our window. Deer traipse through the backyard. A moose sips at our stream. Years ago, Maggie would have raced around the house, yipping and yapping and scratching the front door. But now she just wanders from room to room with her little paws clicking and her nose glued to the floor. Who knows what’s she sniffing? Then five minutes later, for reasons we can’t fathom, she’s back on the upper floor. Hold your horses! I shout. Then grabbing the handrail, I proceed with the rescue, knowing that it’s the climb that matters, glad that I can still manage it, grateful that she still attempts it, tackling each step at a time.
Marc Swan On the Deck, Harbor Below Gulls squawk, balls dribble, hoops clang, children scream, The Cat sits by the dock with dead engines, our departure date delayed. Earlier today, in the bookstore on Congress Square, the white-haired lady dressed in purple, red plastic eyeglasses, a warm smile, deep-set brown eyes, talks with me about poetry. She likes Billy Collins, the simplicity that takes on new meaning as you read through the words with a nugget waiting to emerge. I tell her about Ray Carver, though in the telling she doesn’t hear, not that she isn’t listening intently, but the words are lost to her. She tries to read my lips and works on her responses, but it’s easy to see she doesn't hear me. Later, on my deck, harbor below, The Cat patiently sits, waiting, we’re all waiting for something these days, something good to happen, too much hot air moving our hearts and minds elsewhere. I think of that woman, ears no longer attuned to the rhythm and flow of gulls, children, the playfulness we’ve lost from long ago.
Yoke and Harness It’s April 1st I’m in Portland shoveling snow eight inches fallen and it’s still coming down I feel like Babe, Paul Bunyon’s blue ox pushing it here, pulling it there building the piles that someday may melt On the other coast I have a cousin in California driving a Ferrari on a closed track a birthday gift from his son-in-law my son-in-law gives me grief— he’s a Republican, I’m not— and bad wine I hear the whine of a snow blower beating its way over the drive across the street I imagine my cousin listening to the whine of the Ferrari 483 horsepower, 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds and the whistle of the wind as he hits 100 miles per hour in second gear He texts he could’ve driven a V-10 Lamborghini Gallardo I don’t even know what that is
but it sounds huge and fast and liberating I could be in Florida, Arizona, even California but Iâ€™m not
J. Bradley No THE TEENAGED BOY WITH CHAINSAWS for arms wanted to discover himself but couldn't figure out how. He stares at the scars across his belly, the clumsy cross stitch on his upper thighs. His mother isn't any help; sheâ€™s afraid to see how much more he looks like his father. When the boy was old enough, he asked his mother where he got his arms since she and his father had normal arms with normal fingers. The Lord, she said, but she couldn't tell him which one.
Nate Maxson Objects in Motion I am a fever that has left you What canâ€™t be said It is you And it is me waiting Days and days Ten years It is your hands Far from my tender velocity It is your shadow forever across me It is me Stretched out on my bed Posed accidentally In a crucifixion Dream of you
Trajectory/Shadow What’s missing is too subtle for the euphemism: “Phantom limb syndrome” I walk into a room, negative space of what was there A hole in the middle of what I remember It’s like the people who say, “My father built this house” The shadow to the word is that they did not, So I alternate a live current Between the spirit and the muscle Blue and red, The shadow of the sound and the shadow of the weight The Atlas organ, if we’re being pedantic about it A Wi-Fi router attached to a spine An evolution dear to the pit Descend endlessly And never fall
Jake Sheff Derrick at Sea Before the bars you opened a parked car to shut off the headlights, a favor for the owner. And just before the owner’s punch landed on the back of your head I caught it. We threw back pints at the Deluxe Brewing Co. and I was telling your good looks to get lost. But that affected you like wind affects the moon, so after your wife’s affair we hiked out at Red Rock Canyon. I drew you by the rock face like a succulent plant, but you focused on rebuilding a drought tolerant road home. “It was Great Britain that said Keep Calm and Carry On,” you said, but All in it together was written on the milky way that night above our tents. Now you up and joined the Navy; somewhere near a strait or winds incarcerated by the fates that also made us cellmates for a brief time, though you’d prefer jailbirds. Your postcards from Baja California and Bologna flew beneath a thorny moon at the speed of church and are still here beneath my bolo tie.
A Cloud on Fire Her garden had a view of Camelback Mountain. A snake would come through like a river of impermanence or road and take the way it came along with it. “And these are cyclamen,” she said, coloring the inner life of Phoenix and the day. A secret ran around outside the gates like quail. A single cloud passed overhead on fire, somehow avoided drawing attention to itself between the other clouds with second faces we expected. Skydivers were diving also, solicitous as sunlight. It was a party, and only people who stumbled upon it – as I had – gained entrance. I couldn’t see the difference between the hostess and her twin, though he was carrying a cockatoo, expressing his desire to see the moon go boom. And I was falling unexpectedly in line. A hundred years of stairs were quietly descending all that we got over that night. The Amsterdam sex show was like a memory’s dewclaw or thrip in the toilet outside growing roses. Now experience has parked here like a food truck, with bloopers repressed or shellacked but never good enough or outsmarted.
Going to See the Yogi Just back from Vancouver, unpacking the bedrock of our life together, you mentioned an article you read on the plane about a yogi. Coit Tower was exploiting the window behind you. That pithy memorial, doing what it shouldn’t. The Gunawan exhibit was still fresh in my mind. His painting of the hero’s horse wouldn’t give sex chromosomes to the Java War and shouldn’t be easily imagined or common at death’s expense. Death couldn’t be the mitochondrial Eve. The yogi was conquering the body that conquered TB, typhus and malevolence; dividing our beings into quick brown will power and lazy limbs. Through asana, we found something to try and recruit ourselves, like a double-agent, right next to each other.
Alice Andersen Dark Chocolate THE COMMERCIAL WAS ON. The one I hated so much because it reminded me of…him. Of all the men I’d known in my life, Carter was the worst. His problem was bigger than the melted packages of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups I’d find in my car. That was only one sign of the trouble to come. He was a total chocoholic. Even worse, he was a pusher. Don’t get me wrong. I loved chocolate as much as the next person—until he came along. On our first date, he brought Milky Ways, supposedly to tide us over for a late dinner. I was charmed by the gesture. Then he presented me with candy bars on our second date, our third, and our fourth; Snickers, Three Musketeers, and Baby Ruths. It was fun and sweet at first, but it continued. I’d slip my unopened candy bar gift into my purse while he bit into his own bar with an expression of pure bliss. He had countless good qualities so I tried to overlook his addiction. Truly I did. Until that last day. I showed up at his apartment unexpectedly to find empty wrappers littering every surface. A moan came from out of the bedroom. He had finally done it. He had overdosed on chocolate. My nasty side took over. I searched the apartment until I found an unopened super-size package of Twix minis tucked into the linen closet. Sweet temptation…I left the bag of chocolates on his bedside table and walked out. To my surprise, his obituary made no mention of his obscene passion. 100
Richard King Perkins II She Sees Mirrors Everywhere You were always my favorite puddle until I broke you in late August with a dirty towel and body heat. When I see you (ignoring the gravity of the cosmos) it’s always for the first time; a sky of radiant mist guarding sacred thoughts in the light of caustic levitation. I’m not welcome to look at you unless I can prove my killing bona fides but I have a photo which favors you in black and white— apertures open to the process of red pill awakening wrought by a negative sun. Being defined by infinite events is misrepresentation (my impresario of speckled chemicals) this is something you can’t just walk off 101
so when my lips touch yours in ambient reflection, I donâ€™t need you to kiss me back.
Electrical Seduction Waking up in an unfamiliar room bathed in a quality of light I don’t recognize— my eyes seem foreign to my body. I crawl over to a small table set with free-form dinnerware and mischievous cloth napkins. Dark comedy is buried beneath my fingernails like bread stuck deep inside a toaster. I lift the plates and find a tryst of deepest sighs gathered from around the house. There’s a chill riding in the air, rain masquerading on the rooftop as a possible future. The seven amber bottles on the countertop seem out of place but I’m not sure why. I’m a product of science and adaptation. I’m still struggling to grow the part of my anatomy
that will perfectly conform to the three-slotted receptacle calling to me with the purr of electrical seduction.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois Pages 1. I WENT OUT TO COLFAX AVE. for a colonoscopy. Across the street was a bar and a tattoo parlor. As I took off my clothes, I could see them through the blind slits. My eighty-six-year-old mother had driven me there. The colonoscopy office had sent me a message in red, in capital letters, saying that if I did not have a ride they would cancel my procedure. A taxi was not okay, they said. I didn’t ask what was wrong with a taxi. The nurse-anesthetist stuck a tube in my nose and told me to choose the best dream I could think of. This guy had big biceps. So did the gastroenterologist. I suspected that they were gay and having a romantic relationship. It didn’t matter to me one bit. It was just idle thinking, like most thinking, at least like most of mine. I wait for profound thoughts but they never come. Even in times of crisis and catastrophe, they don’t. My thoughts remain dull and mundane. While I was having my colonoscopy done, my mother was in the waiting room reading People Magazine, an article about JFK’s beautiful sister, who’d been given a lobotomy at age twenty-three. I’d once worked in a mental hospital with lobotomized patients. They were the most pathetic group of people I ever worked with, and I worked with some doozies. I wanted to read that article. I had planned to steal it as I left the office, but I was dopey from the 106
drugs and, as my mother rose from her seat and laid down the magazine on an end table, I totally forgot about it. 2. My books froze in the unheated schoolhouse in which I lived. I was an avid reader, so I tried various tools, tweezers, pliers, both needle-nosed and flat, and screwdrivers. I didn’t use any power tools as those would obviously have been counterproductive, but no matter how I tried, I could not pry any two pages apart to make them readable. It was the kind of disappointment common in my life. I couldn’t go to the library because the county was so short of money, they were no longer plowing the country roads out my way, which was quite a way out from the county’s center, a place I thought of as the ass end of the middle of nowhere, not an original thought, I knew, but I also knew that as an uneducated man, I was not expected to have original thoughts.
M.T. Evans Unauthorized Poem I figure the moment of death is a little like Carl Sandburgâ€™s cat. Floating. Waiting. Peaceful. Painless. One minute you are in one room, and the next another, not knowing how you got there and no longer remembering what you were looking for. Just ecstatic to be up on high and in the light.
Rose Knapp Scene Sven Soren Kirke Koran Sharp noises danse around Sync chest knives kiss my skin Cuts needles flak clout blut Fleisch lik Lesbos Hebraic Hieroglyphic Germanic script sculpts Brut slits Sybil Seville tropes Jazz Beats white flamenco blackout
Just Do Jour Jew Bullets backlash to Nailed 99 theses Burn like the Rasta Laissez Pharisees Black mailed Luther to Blacker fashion Calvin Pharos have Zero Zeno Arabic Axioms Averroes Or So Oslo the American Aristocratic folkloric Tag Smokestack proverbs Go
DM & Either/Or DSM Taha—— I feel zoso out of place Extremely traditional Machismo Latino club on Cinco de Mayo I am patted down like an airport Like I Am here to shoot it up Everyone is dressed to impress Their neighborhood—— But in a good way?—— I tink Darfur I pass At least I'm a faggot Hipster that does not Aim to purify anything I am literally the only Weiss bitch here—— Heredity plays no major Role in any LA art scenes Essentially every person Stares at me dancing like I'm insane, which is proverbially True according to tradition and Indomitable Hollywood//DSM
William Doreski Dead Poets’ Hotel The dead poets’ hotel stinks of cheap perfume and bourbon. The pale green corridors wind like stretches of small intestine. From doors left ajar, small sighs leak, parsing sexual gestures not every participant approves. I wander with my required glass of water-weakened liquor. I hope to meet Rimbaud, Stevens, Ben Jonson and Sylvia Plath. I’d like to discuss syllabics with Moore, iambics with Milton, but instead I’m face to face with the wraith and wrath of Poe, the droopy fog of Eliot, the reeking miasma of Villon. Dodging around these figures of capable imagination, I meet Jim, who taught me to read 112
Hart Crane as though my life depended on it. Crane himself lies drunk on the rug behind him, his drowned expression as fixed as the polar star. The hotel groans as hurricane winds move in from the Gulf. The powerâ€™s out forever, but the corridors glow with foxfire phosphorescence; and the rooms, when I enter to watch the sex acts unfold, have filled with radiance people mistook, in the old days, for the glory of an unassimilated god.
Another Cosmic View With all that paint flaking from the sky you’d think we’d see stars. But the great LED of sun blanks the distance, blinding us to our best interests. Eventually all the blue paint will peel, and then the black paint will peel, and then the whole raw mass of nuclear fusion will gloat. Rather than life after death, we’ll engage in this dance of free particles. Maybe we’ll even get to choose our partners. You might meet the particle of your dreams. One that had been attached to money. Or one that formerly participated in artistic genius, or the depths of experimental science. Since particles lack gender, you can choose solely on their relative qualities of photonic emission. Yes, you should get your hair done anyway. Why not spend two hundred dollars a month to ward off the eccentricities of age? But wear a hat. You don’t want to get blue paint-flake in our refreshed blonde rug. You don’t want the solar LED to blanche that expensive dye job. And you don’t want men like me ruffling your permanent with hands as crude as asteroids.
Erin Wahl My Mother Asked Me Tonight if I’m Okay I’m okay to drive. I’m okay to have just one more beer. I’m okay to talk on the phone right now; I’m not busy. I’m okay with this restaurant/bar/choose-your-own-adventuresomethingor-other. I’m okay on chips; I don't need any more thanks. I’m okay to take vacation that week, but not the next. I’m okay to like this local restaurant without hurting the feelings of the other local restaurant that it’s also okay that I like. I’m okay with your rad alternative lifestyle that you say shatters all of my expectations of you that you thought I had. I’m okay with that movie, but next time we’re going to the comedy I’ve had my heart set on seeing for a while now. I’m okay with your religion as long as you don’t shove it down my throat every day. I’m okay to meet at that time and that place that you want to meet at but you keep on asking because you want to make sure I’m okay. I’m okay with the current state of affairs of the break room kitchen. I’m okay with this idea that you have of me, even though
it’s not how I see myself, even though it’s not who I am. I’m okay with your opinion because I know I won’t ever be able to convince you otherwise. I’m okay with the fact that no one is cleaning the bathrooms regularly, although I will protest and register my disgust when it gets too dirty. I’m okay being alone, loneliness being very good for poetry productivity, and me in general at this period of my life. I’m okay to love again, when I want to, in my own time, without caring what anyone else thinks. I’m okay with haunting the hallways of my life and memorizing the things I did wrong, creating a list, and then tossing it away. I’m okay with obsessing for a little while on something that I’ll realize later isn’t really important. I’m okay to sit on this memory of you for now, my heart a trail of dust slathered by rain, a muddy mess reaching out past me into the wild.
The Fire Meal I. I see that the way the smoke rolls over the landscape looks the same in Alaska as it does in Arizona. The fire scorches, eating up the pieces of wilderness we never got to walk through. We will never get to walk through it now. It burns. It burns. II. The fire meal cools and sifts itself into the wind, dark ashes rising into air, the prayers of the trees, the slow animals, the hot life made brittle, rising with it. And I donâ€™t see people coming here to mark the alteration. Though they'll be back next spring for morels sprouting up from charred logs. I can only trudge the border, walk a few feet in, halted by this new map of space, lines not matching where they used to. I touch the burned grass with my open hand. Draw the edge of a knife along what used to be a tree, watch the charcoal flake off onto the metal. I wonder if it still hurts. Suspended here, the world clicks and turns. III. After the winter, after the people break the new boundaries for buckets of mushrooms, after the rush, I return to see new green amongst the black. There seem to be trails here again. Decided by plant life rather than man, a green mist leading me where they think I should go. Touching a new leaf, I think I feel heat. The promise of more fire. 117
Mick Corrigan Roadkill Concerto Roadkill red, a princeling fox ragged ruin beneath dark squabbling birds, wild once, wild no more. Raining today, face to the glass, singing jewels to a quiet earth, silver drifting from the blue like sleep. Diving deep on days like these we sometimes dream new versions of ourselves, a little bit us, a little bit not, a whole lot better than the real, glossy bright, fledging new. Bats at dusk tell tales to the air of flashing wings and derring-do, squeak and flicker through the gloom; they do not fear the dying of lightâ€” whispering dark brings numinous things.
Ian Randall Wilson Somewhere Immanuel Kant Describes Beauty Around the stove there is misery. The one counts no higher. The bountiful appears then quits the body. Everything is recollection. Banks do not explain each coin. Bills remember only their last pocket. I am the one who holds the sand but the sand slips through. Now doors adjust to the humidity. Life becomes one more day on the dark stone of the world. I remember stripes running in all directions rabbit on the deck the bulbs in need of replacing. Lucky ghosts of Tuesday ruffle each blind of the bedroom window.
The landscape heaves. The sky is rupturing. The earth has changed its necessary conditions.
The Borders Close The avenue fills with ghosts. The mind. Unhappy life of things. I wait for a bird to drive a car, speech from cats. The starkness of a waterfall keeping wrong traditions. No authority approves the sources of the latest monument to ideas. Around me reticence hums watching a world of falling leaves.
Anne Garwig Black Canvas In the first frames of this movie, soldiers jadedly complain that the war’s gonna be over someday and I will have to work for a living at fooling the critics and dazzling the audiences. Because anything goes, in any medium, by any person or animal, celebrity or soldier, paid for by any taxpayer or corporation or union. A black canvas, inkjet rejection letter to the image, the handwritten easel painters. Why not accept black as we accept blogs, phone calls, incoming texts at standard rates? We’re basic, we are bitches, we hold festivals (or someone holds them for us, like a coat over a puddle while crossing the street to the hotel). Someone will smile at the use of “basic bitches” and not hear how loudly they smile context, and not know that they wake the beast with the word “digital.” So do not wake it, do not announce your press status is for the online edition. Do not wake it; it’s dreaming.
Re: Definition 1. in the American grain, eaten stored waving 2. also: running through the boards 3. then: it will go hard if we canâ€™t, in practice 4. Modern instruments make things as crooked as in nature; chicken nugget shapes are poured water in a vase 5. to content themselves; boot ball bell dictate the shape taken 6. Ceramic vase filled with boiling water makes a sound. Why?
Piet Nieuwland About to Mean I could tell you a million things About how numbers are extinguished by night How, on the road of clouds, dawn is blue, tender, dewy How every tree is a person, every stone a sign Where to want is only to have no want How the silicon moon in a cedar blue sky sings How nature is spirit, nothing but spirit, its essence restlessness Spilling over, its being movement How to write the future with poetry at the speed of light When a tumult of carmine waves echo in cathedrals of ten thousand Altars with heirs of the black panthers in orbit over Oakland How time, a paua, closes on 1.618, the golden tongue of meaning The futility of saying it has no weight nor value, is just inane Where zyxt is, and apolaustican, and tropospheric What flaming giraffes are doing on the boulevard How cytoplasm bursts into air, the delirious ocean foams How its temperature rises and Antarctica Will melt
As Many as That Neurotoxins on neural paths Vascular bundles and mylar cloud Whatever you made of time Stringed instruments from another culture Pieces of one of the 7000+ languages We donâ€™t know how to speak The cacophony of slit gong and fired clay drums A quartet of carved elephant seal tusks and bells Chime distant through morning fog Counting the number of people here The number of people not here Who were here but not now And those who were found to be Here, at the transcendental Point of their death When the crow calls a blade cut On dialogues about a systematic landscape Approach at Al-Fayum, beside the Nile flow A mobile micro-urbation 7000 years before present Subject To oscillations of the intertropical convergence zone As if to say itâ€™s a future Of quantum turbulence and hyper-aridity that makes To slow down and be However precisely Enough
Vincent Zepp Self Portrait at the Lumiere Factory everything a suspiration of blue visiting dr reys mother his portrait of her son patching a hole in the chicken koop warehouse prices for vicodin teenage mia farrow lunching with dali on de kaart butterfly wings on crackers attar of wind (a discussion of gussets trombones geants) a hundred billion stars
This Is the Nativity it is her daughterâ€™s birthday 7:23 she is sitting at the table writing since i got laid off i have this need for a scoche more sleep i hear tears in her nose see her hands in her eyes i shower to o tannenbaum vitamins we drink coffee smoke pot a crime in this country and put up the nativity a mother came to the buddha her child had died she wanted guatama 128
to do something he told her go to the village bring back something from every home that has not known death then he would all he could but as she said this is the nativity there will be the spring of gesthemene golgatha (unless another scoundrel 129
has lied to us) god this is the nativity even in the pieta of the heart
How Does a Gentleman Say If You Hold My Cannoli I Will Screw in Your Light Bulb The petrichorous sillage on ellsworth avenue better an agnosiac than an agnostic who plays the worst game in the house betting on red and black instead of the bingo game as hyman roth suggested believing he is more eurybathic than bullshit he joins his brethren around the elephant the elephant is soft and mushy we dissent in the attar and the darkness that clots every day sara writes I was getting ready for bed I had a dizzy spell closed my eyes this important marvelous revelation concerning you appeared to me without waiting for your permission I performed for you a string of mystical beneficial occult aid ceremonials The danger with this is that i may find myself stuck in your past or in your future and never be able to return to the present 131
i said to myself this is the business weâ€™ve chosen hans asperger austrian pediatrician believed for success in art a dash of autism is essential elvis is singing itâ€™s now or never and gina i just wanted to tell you i had a dream i was sucking your toes
Lynn Mundell To Do Take down Match.com profile Sat. – 2 Rib-eyes, Candles Hair – 4 p.m. – Highlights? Library, Milk Mon. – Finish report for Sandy by COB Pick up Toby’s flute Tue. – noon – LUNCH DATE! – Blue Moon Cafe Wed. – SPCA w/ kids! Mochi – Vet – Shots! Sat. – 11 a.m. – Pedicure Borrow Lisa’s Blue Dress Kids to Mom by 6 p.m. – Remember Hotdogs Dinner Reservation – DiVicchios!! ice packs Call SFPD Ellen’s school conference – Tue?, room 20 call Parkway Flowers – Refuse deliveries! shut down FB Call SFPD Sat – Drinks with girls! – The Heron tires replaced – insured? call SFPD blackout curtains put up poster for Mochi – $50 reward
Thu – Remember Presentation (shine shoes!!) Little League Party – Richie Field – Fri @ 5pm, bring Mac n Chez ;) Mom – kids staying asap alarm installed Sat @ 8 cleaning crew call officer Ronan? Rogan? milk, sandwich bags mon am – Sandy – emergency leave school transfer paperwork thu, cancel utilities take down posters for Mochi return library books fri movers – 10 am, Sat – plz new address confidential
Cynthia Anderson Muir in the Sequoias Eyes alert, he spots the bear just before it bounds into a berry patch. He tucks his crust of bread in his shirt and strides onward, follows the river toward Tokopah Falls. Mule deer browse, unperturbed by his presence. Heâ€™s nearly one of them, sharing crystal air while the last sunflowers bend their heads. Going out is really going in, he says, and heâ€™s out for days, or weeks, lingering with the giants, speechless in their silence. When he dozes on the granite dome of Sunset Rock, he dreams a sky of dirty haze, slopes gray with dying trees. What nightmare is this? What travesty? What shadow eclipsing the sun?
How it Happens You’re walking, watching road and sky, dirt and blue, and every breathing thing that surrounds you—taking care your footfalls land where you want them to, and nowhere else— until you start talking or thinking or dreaming down the day and almost step on a dead, half-skinned baby snake, run over, markings faded to gray, bound for oblivion. That’s how it goes—your skull plays hostess, setting the table for the guests you expect— then, that knock at the door.
Roar of Glory His body failing every which way, my father turns trickster, sneaks into my bedroom at 2 am and flips the nightlight switch. I’m startled, all right—that golden glow’s got me by the short hairs. I pull the light from its socket and go back to bed, propped on my elbows, peering into the dark. He’s nowhere to be seen—the deed done, he guns his motorcycle, a ringer for the one he bought in Chandler, 40 years ago, to cure his midlife crisis. His departure rips the night apart, echoing down the deserted dirt road. I’m convinced this must be his final ride, a fitting roar of glory—but come morning, the phone is silent, no news at all. He’s not dead. Again.
Cheyenne Nimes The Delaware River As the many state and local slogans proclaim, America started here. And now you are. Like the Hudson, it is not, technically, a river. It’s a fjord. You cannot see the salt line, the larcenous streak, that the Delaware is often salty as far north as Marcus Hook, although with heavy rainfall the salt line can be around Dover. It was hoped, briefly, that the Delaware would be a shortcut to China. It wasn’t. It is, however, the longest undammed river in the eastern United States, and one of four major migration flyways in North America for the winged: waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and neotropical songbirds… they come and perch and stare, for “America started here”. Salt is a blend of sodium and chloride—the first, a metal so unstable that it bursts into flame when exposed to water; the second, a lethal gas. When we swallow the blend, it forms hydrochloric acid in our stomach. Too much of a good thing can kill you. But nothing alive can live without salt. Our blood is a soup of sodium. Sodium is what stars are made of. 97% of the earth’s water supply is salted. Holy water is salted. Ingestion of large amounts of salt in a short time (about 1 g per kg of body weight) can be fatal. Salt solutions have been used in China as a traditional suicide method. We contain about eight ounces of salt- enough to fill several shakers. Without salt the body goes into convulsions, paralysis, death. Salt will save you as easy as it’ll kill you. Saline has many uses, including as a "replacement fluid" in emergencies. It can temporarily replace large amounts of lost blood, saving the lives of countless accident victims. And you 138
could shoot blood from a pig in your veins to hold on a while longer after a high blood pressure related incident. When you're facing the end, everything that's not real is stripped away. You're the most real you'll ever be, more real than you've ever been before. You’re an animal, after all. Salt aj. [by shortening & alter. fr. assaut, fr. ME a sawt, fr. MF a saut], lit., on the jump : LUSTFUL, LASCIVIOUS. We spend our first months in a sac of saline solution. We have gill ridges and tail. Oceans contain billions of tons of salt. The oceans contain enough to make a dazzling white continent. But a river can’t live with salt. I could suggest others. A hundred rivers. & a thousand rivers. Nearly 15 million people- five percent of the nation's population- rely on the waters of the Delaware River Basin for drinking. Salt makes almost anything taste better. But don’t give it salt. Excessive salt consumption is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths a year. The FDA prefers salt reductions be voluntary. Without salt, our hearts couldn’t beat. Without corporeal sodium the body could not hold water in its tissues. Lack of sodium will lead to death. Put blood cells in a salt-free fluid and they burst. Test the freshness of eggs in a cup of salt water; fresh eggs sink; bad ones float. Blood, sweat, and tears all contain salt, sodium chloride solution. Like a crust of almost pure salt, black, the salt of animal blood. What we see as white is the color spectrum dispersed haphazardly anyway. In central Africa, until the early 1900’s, 120 salt slabs would buy a bride. 'War' and 'peace' originate from the word for salt & bread in Hebrew and Arabic – yet the first war humankind initiated was most probably over salt supplies. Salt cake may be collected as solid briquettes. For those of us winning. Not for the ones who hover beside a burning blank bank. For those who must carry water 139
home and boil it before itâ€™s drinkable. For the delirious. For the ten million people who will die this year of waterborne diseases. For those who feel they are a lost cause. For water that reached us giving only a hint of the flood to come. For the great mass of waters, returning when they will be least expected. 1/20/17, a fracture in a truss, a crack in the Delaware River Bridge steel, & it is not known how long the repairs will take.
Maximilian Heinegg Charlottesville Today I read the story of a hellmouth, the myth of how the hydra lived for a time, deathless, not unlike his nemesis, Hercules, who came to stamp it on his passport of penance. Sever, sever, no success until his cousin burned rednecks on their stumps. Wicks in blood wax, what shadow resurrects in this swamp, our countrymen emerge, beasts theyâ€™ve been, or transmogrify, shameless heads up to lurch & wield, & we, sighted witnesses armed with pens & useless tourniquets of forgiveness, torches ourselves against what are these faces bursting forth?
Tobi Alfier Established in 1958 STANISLAW PLLIWA WAS A YOUNG MAN, and already a well-known confectioner. He had won many prizes, both in national and international competitions. But his passion for his craft was nothing compared to the passion in his heart the day he set eyes on Apolonia. He was working in the window of a confectioners when he saw her walk by with her mother. They came into the shop to buy sweets for a celebration. It was to be his job to offer his talents for their enjoyment, which he did. After that, he courted Apolonia the way he coaxed butter into flour for the most delicate dough—lovingly, methodically, with focused attention that would not waver. At first Apolonia was shy. She had a brother and two older sisters, all married and starting their families nearby, so she understood that particular language. She’d watched it grow into a beautiful thing three times before; she’d just never had it turned in her direction. One Sunday afternoon. Stanislaw came to call. He had a small box tied with a ribbon the color of new mown grass. Inside the box, inside the tissue, the most perfect sugar doughnut filled with rose-petal jam. Apolonia had never had that before. She’d never smelled or tasted it before. And on tasting, her cheeks turned as pink as the rose petals, her demeanor as sweet. They had a modest ceremony. Handsome Stanislaw in his white confectioners’ coat and boutonniere, Apolonia in her 142
mother’s veil, passed from mother to sisters to her, the shoulder length plain lace edged in heavy white the shape of a wimple on a nun’s habit. The emotion in one of the photographs could crumble pastry, so dense with heart and feeling. Like her parents, they also brought two girls and a boy into their fragrant, happy home. Like her parents, their children grew up, made their own lives, stayed close, but they did move away, in heart, mind, and obligation. Apolonia and Stanislaw had an empty nest, except on weekends, when the whole family met for an afternoon of catching up and dinner…they said “like the old days”, even though they were making the old days each week themselves. In 1958, empty-nest Stanislaw and Apolonia took the leap that had brought them together, kept them together, and would be a legacy to pass down to their children. They opened a bakery. They did not start simple and work up. Right from the beginning they had dough proofing racks, granite counters for candy, ovens and refrigerators, the latest cappuccino machine, 5 tables with chairs, the backs shaped liked hearts, and vows they made to each other—they would always welcome any of their children or grandchildren to work, they would only hire help who had families, and they would always speak their mother tongue, Polish. Even if tourist after tourist came to wait out a museum opening nearby, and that definitely occurred, they would always be kind, but always the native language. Their other vow was no matter the weather, no matter the season, everything wrapped in their paper would be natural, no flavorings at all. Nothing artificial. That was the way they raised their children. That was what they wanted to pass on. On the day they opened, it was an 143
older Stanislaw and Apolonia, also older but still with the quiet beauty of a contented woman who greeted the first patrons. They made a name for themselves with their vows. A good name and good next step on their life’s journey together. Today the bakery still stands, run by the children of Stanislaw and Apolonia. New cakes have been added, gelato has been added, not much popular in winter but very well known in spring. The optometrist next door retired, leaving them room to expand. Now they have ten chairs with backs shaped like hearts, two booths, and a window, much like the window where Stanislaw first saw his Apolonia. A huge copper kettle in the window is stirred by a grandson, caramels taking on his love of the city as he stirs and stirs. The original vows still stand— children, grandchildren and family women work side-by-side, everything is natural, all customers treated with the kindest respect in the mother tongue. On the menu under “specials”, an item called “Apolonia’s delight”. Perfect sugar doughnuts filled with rose-petal jam, sold one at a time.
Rich Soos behind these eyes an arthritic hand shakes off all memory of familiar voices firing off vindictives no longer understood within me the singers stride toward me over the desert sands sounding an alarm I struggle to recall and despise the young faces live smirking in sight of the ancient call of death hovering nearby waiting for inheritance promising power in these dark skies waiting for a temperate hemlock to encourage me to stand naked encouraging the stones of destiny to allow the ravens to find this body
sliver we live each other with wonder when the moon moves almost now unseen part of our spirit moves with a diminished sound when our heart canâ€™t sing it must be music holding this all together this sound our reward
CONTRIBUTOR NOTES Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. Alice Andersen lives in Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a reclusive Calico cat. When not working on a novel, she writes flash fiction. Anastasia Jill (Anna Keeler) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the greater Orlando area. Her work has been published or is upcoming with Poets.org, Deep South Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Dual Coast Magazine, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Foglifter Press, Drunk Monkeys, and more. Anne Garwig’s poetry has appeared in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Broad!, and The Jenny, among other journals and anthologies. She completed the 2017 Poetry Foundation Summer Poetry Teachers Institute in Chicago and teaches in the English department at Kent State University in Salem, Ohio. She lives in Youngstown, Ohio. Arya F. Jenkins’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her flash, “Elvis Too,” was nominated for the 2017 Write Well Awards. She writes jazz 147
fiction for Jerry Jazz Musician, an online zine. Her poetry chapbooks are Jewel Fire (AllBook Books, 2011), and Silence Has a Name (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her latest chapbook, Autumn Rumors, will be published by CW Books in 2018. Beate Sigriddaughter is poet laureate of Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), USA. Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and poetry awards. In 2018 FutureCycle Press will publish her poetry collection Xanthippe and Her Friends, and Cervená Barva Press will publish her chapbook Dancing in Santa Fe and Other Poems in 2019. Find her online at sigriddaughter.com. Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. He’s from Albuquerque and Milwaukee. Cheyenne Nimes was awarded the University of Iowa Provost Edwin Ford Piper Scholar Award for Names for Water Bodies & Other Places the Water Fell: A Micro-history of American Rivers and the World Water Crisis; she was a University of Iowa Art Museum resident writer chosen by Eula Biss. An NEA recipient in poetry, her essay “Section 404” garnered first place in the DIAGRAM Magazine Hybrid Essay Contest. Two pieces are forthcoming in The Shell Game (anthology on essay forms, University of Nebraska, 2018). Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she is the author of seven poetry collections, the most recent 148
being Waking Life (Cholla Needles Press, 2017). She co-edited the anthology A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens. Find her at cynthiaandersonpoet.com. Darrell Herbert is a recipient of NY Literary Magazine’s 5 Star Writer Award. His poetry is featured in Yellow Chair Review, Section 8 Magazine, Beat Yard Magazine, Southeast Hip-Hop Magazine, Poets & Writers Magazine, Zoomoozophone Review, The Naga, Scarlet Leaf Review, Poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, Dissident Voice, and Anti-Heroin Chic. Erin Wahl’s work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in: Dirty Chai, Blackmail Press, Cirque, Spiral Orb, and others. A microchapbook is forthcoming from Bitterzoet Press. David S. Atkinson is the author of Apocalypse All the Time, Not Quite So Stories, The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes, and Bones Buried in the Dirt. He is a Staff Reader for Digging Through the Fat and his writing appears in Literary Orphans, The Airgonaut, Connotation Press, and others. His website is davidsatkinsonwriting.com. G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University, Clinton, Iowa. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket. He has published poems in a wide array of journals. His books include Leaves of Maple and Long Dark River Casino. Gail Braune Comorat is a founding member of Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, and the author of Phases of the Moon (Finishing Line 149
Press). Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Grist, and The Widows’ Handbook. She lives in Lewes, Delaware where she’s a long-time member of several writing groups. Heather Sager is a Minnesota native living in northern Illinois. She has contributed fiction or poetry to journals such as Heavy Feather Review, Columbia Journal, Untoward, Bear Review, Naugatuck River Review, and Fourth & Sycamore, among others. Ian Randall Wilson’s fiction and poetry has appeared in literary journals such as The North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review. A short story collection, Hunger and Other Stories, was published by Hollyridge Press (2000). His first poetry collection, Ruthless Heaven, will be published by Finishing Line Press. He has an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and is on the fiction faculty at UCLA Extension. Irene Fick’s first chapbook, The Stories We Tell, was published in 2014 by The Broadkill Press and received two first place awards from the Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her poetry has also been published in journals such as Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Adanna and Philadelphia Stories. J. Bradley is Contributing Editor at New Flash Fiction Review and Creator and Executive Producer at There Will Be Words, Orlando, FL. His story, “Kyle,” was selected in The Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions for 2016. His new book, Neil and Other Stories (Whiskey Tit Books) is due out March, 2018. Find him at jbradleywrites.com. 150
Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Currently, home is the Mojave Desert. His poems appear in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA. His work appears in the W.W. Norton Anthology, Flash Fiction International, and in Queenâ€™s Ferry Pressâ€™s anthology, Best Small Fictions of 2015. He was a finalist in the Best Small Fictions of 2016, and a semi-finalist in 2017. James McManus is the author of Positively Fifth Street, Cowboys Full, Going to the Sun, and eight other books of poetry, fiction, and fact. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, Salmagundi, Scalawag, The Atlantic, APR, AQR, Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, and two editions of The Best American Poetry. Jim Bourey is an old poet living on the northern edge of the Adirondack Mountains. His chapbook Silence, Interrupted was published in 2015 by Broadkill River Press. His work has appeared in Gargoyle, Broadkill Review, Double Dealer and other journals and anthologies. He was first runner up in the Faulkner-Wisdom Poetry Competition in 2012 and 2016.
Joseph E. Lerner’s fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in 100 Word Story, Beyond the Margin, BlazeVOX, decomP, Gargoyle, matchbook, Pif, and elsewhere. He is founder of both The Washington (D.C.) Book Review and Furious Fictions Magazine, and is an alumnus of the Clarion SF Writers Workshops. He lives in Taos, NM, in a 100-year-old adobe hacienda and former B&B whose guests once included D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O'Keeffe, Upton Sinclair, Goldie Hawn, and the Grateful Dead. He can be reached at email@example.com. Kenneth Pobo has a new book out from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. Forthcoming in September is his chapbook from Grey Borders Press called Dust and Chrysanthemums. Kyle Hemmings is a retired health care worker. His latest collections of poetry/prose are Scream, from Scars publications, and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s. Les Epstein is the author of eight plays and two operas that have appeared on stages across the U.S. His work has appeared in journals in the United States, Philippines, India, and the U.K. as well as online publications. Recent credits include Eyedrum Periodically, Rizal Journal, Interstice, Sweater Weather, and Saudade. He teaches in Roanoke, VA. Leslie E. Hoffman’s poems have appeared in The California Writers Club Literary Review; Third Thursdays; Caesura, The Journal of Poetry Center San Jose; Helen: FNS, and Nevada State College’s 300 152
Days of Sun. She is a member of the editorial teams for Writer’s Bloc, Las Vegas, Caesura, and The CWC Literary Review. Lisa Badner’s poems have appeared in print and online magazines including Rattle, The New Ohio Review, TriQuarterly, Mudlark, Fourteen Hills, PANK, The Mom Egg Review, The Satirist, and New World Writing. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and works as an Administrative Law Judge. She studies writing with Phillip Schultz. Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator, and travel writer. Her works appear in over 100 journals in Canada, the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa; 11 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and Notes from the Patagonia (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Follow her travels at facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer. Lynn Mundell’s work has appeared in Five Points, Booth, The Sun, Tin House online, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Portland Review, and many other literary journals. She is co-editor of 100 Word Story and its anthology, Nothing Short Of: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story (Outpost19, 2018) and a contributor to the anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Stories (W.W. Norton, 2018). Lynn lives with her husband and sons in Northern California. M.T. Evans is a musician, poet, and activist who found poetry to be his most effective means of expression. He lives in Joshua Tree, CA, and is originally from Wichita, KS. He was schooled in both 153
San Diego and Los Angeles, culminating at Los Angeles Harbor College. Marc Swan is a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor. His poems have recently been published or forthcoming in Scrivener Creative Review, Sanskrit, Broadkill Review, Gargoyle, Midwest Quarterly, Nuclear Impact Anthology, among others. He lives with his wife in Portland, Maine. Mark Madigan’s poetry has previously appeared in The American Scholar, The Louisville Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review and other magazines. Marlene Olin’s stories have been featured or are forthcoming in publications such as The Massachusetts Review, Upstreet Magazine, Arts and Letters, The Saturday Evening Post, and The American Literary Review. She is the winner of the 2015 Rick DeMarinis Short Fiction Award as well as a nominee for both the Pushcart and the Best of the Net prizes. Maximilian Heinegg’s work has appeared in The Cortland Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, December Magazine, and Crab Creek Review, among others. He lives and teaches English in the public schools of Medford, MA where he is also the cofounder and brewmaster of Medford Brewing Company. Melissa Hassard received the 2016 Thomas H. McDill Award, and was a 2016 finalist for the North Carolina Poet Laureate Award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in ONE, by 154
Jacar Press, Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, Vox Poetica, and other journals. She is partner and managing editor at Sable Books, and currently resides in North Carolina with her beloved menagerie of people and animals. Mick Corrigan has been writing poems since Moses was a boy and has been published in a range of periodicals, anthologies, magazines and online journals. He divides his time equally between Ireland, Crete, and the vast open space in the back of his head. His first collection, Deep Fried Unicorn, was released into the wild in 2014 by Rebel Poetry Ireland. Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, is based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital. He lives in Denver. Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Nicolette Reim is an artist who divides her time between studios in New York City and Atlanta. A graduate of the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, she has feature video films in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications, Chicago. She exhibits regularly as a member of M55 Gallery, NY, NY. She is represented in artistsâ€™ book and film collections of the Whitney 155
Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, NYC and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. Her visual poetry has been published in two books, Swerve (2014) and Lament (2015). More at nreim.com. Piet Nieuwland is a New Zealand performance poet and his poems appear in many places including Landfall, Brief, Catalyst, Takahe, Poetry NZ, Titirangi Poets, Pure Slush, Truth Serum, Otoliths, Cordite, Mattoid, Blue Fifth Review, and Atlanta Review. He edits Fast Fibres Poetry, reviews poetry for Landfall Online Review, and lives in the countryside near Whangarei. Rich Soos has been published in over 200 print magazines. He has 20 books of poetry, including Somersaults with Life (2016) and Parting/Departing (2015). His poetry appears in Peacock Journal, Tuck, Leaves of Ink, Micropoetry, Random Poem Tree, Cuento, In Between Hangovers, and others. He is the editor of Cholla Needles and blogs at soospoems.blogspot.com. Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications. Rose Knapp is a poet and producer. She has publications in LotusEater, Bombay Gin, BlazeVOX, Hotel Amerika, Gargoyle, and others. She has a chapbook with Hesterglock Press and a forthcoming 156
collection with Dostoyevsky Wannabe. She lives in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at roseknapp.net. Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Anti-Heroin Chic, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her current chapbooks include Down Anstruther Way from FutureCycle Press, and her full-length collection Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (bluehorsepress.com). Vincent Zepp wants to say: “I’ve been blessed to have such a rich tradition of poetry, art, music, and culture available to me. From Ferlinghetti who opened my eyes, Pound and Eliot, the various significant literary and art movements of the 20th century. Then there was the haiku master Basho who showed me frogs leaping into my mind’s pond. John Berryman said our poetry should be something no one else could do. I've tried to focus on that idea.” Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll is a retired piano teacher whose publications include her book “Grace Only Follows,” which won the National Federation of Press Women Contest; two chapbooks; and poems in journals such as Poetry East, Naugatuck River Review, 157
Connecticut River Review, Cahoodaloodaling, Passager, Gargoyle, Worcester Review, and Broadkill Review. She also enjoys serving as reader for The Delmarva Review. William Doreskiâ€™s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2017).
Mojave River Review Volume 3 • Number 2
Fall/Winter issue, December 2017 To catch our next submissions period, “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter. To read previous issues, visit us at MojaveRiverReview.com. To purchase books by our writers, visit the Mojave River Press online store, which includes MRR editor Michael Dwayne Smith’s new book, Roadside Epiphanies: Jeffrey Alfier, Kithara Book Prize winner, writes: “There is much to admire in the depth and breadth of Smith’s lines. His striking and eloquent control of language and image make this collection of poems a delight to behold.” Susan Tepper, author of Monte Carlo Days & Nights,” writes, “This new book of poems is an intense yet down to earth read, infused with mysticism, love, humor and the search for what is crucial to decent existence. A highly recommended book.”
Published on Dec 8, 2017
Published on Dec 8, 2017
The fall/winter 2017 issue of Mojave River Review features poetry, prose, and art by: Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll, James McManus, James Claffe...