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A Poem by Jennifer O’Neill Pickering

A Lucky Girl


She is the youngest daughter

the good listener,

the lucky one with straight

teeth, the last born,

not often given to advice.

People tell her their secrets.


Before Dad ran off to Mexico,

with the best friend,

the older sister never had

much to say about life at Farmlands;

the high-water bungalow,

twenty-acres of tomatoes,

stewing in summer’s kettle.

How she skips right through his warnings

Don’t go down to the river.


Never speaks of the whippings,

behind the barn,

except to the little sister,

the good listener.

How it takes forever to unhook his belt,

the one with the horseshoe buckle.


How she braces for the sting

against the planks of bubbled paint.

leather to soft skin

tattoed with welts

as if she just stepped on a wasps nest,

and not out of line.



Jennifer O’Neill Pickering is a literary and visual artist living in California who loves to paint with words. Find her poems and prose featured in publications, literary journals and podcasts. Some of these include Writer’s on the Air, Sacramento Voices, Earth’s Daughters, Yellow Silk, Heresies, Restore and Restory, The Dog With the Old Soul and Tiger’s Eye: A Journal of Poetry. ” Her poem, I Am the Creek” is included in the Sacramento site-specific sculpture, Open Circle. A collection of her poetry, Blooming In Winter is illustrated with ten color plates of her visual art and available on Amazon and elsewhere. She is editor of the Sable and Quill: writers who are also visual artists. Shepaintsandwrites.com

A Poem by Cori Davis

AFTER THE ALARM

 
 
Breakfast time and I’m wearing your robe,
The one you forgot on the bathroom door.
It stinks of you, cigarettes and spray deodorant, but hey
It’s fuzzy and warm, so thanks.
Coffee and toast and overcooked eggs
Rubbery and strange yellow, last resort when the cereal is gone.
The first bite is like activated charcoal.
All I can taste is smoke.
 
A burned-down home smells like a campfire,
Gets in your hair, makes you think of marshmallows.
Stay too long and it gets in your mouth,
Gritty ashes and the sour taste of ruined things,
And trying not to look at the victim
Sitting in their bathrobe or Red Cross blanket,
Clutching a cardboard coffee cup,
Wishing to unhappen the last few hours.
What the fire doesn’t get, the water does.
Walk through the burnt places,
Listen to your feet squelch.Ceiling tiles and children’s clothes
And the carbonized husks of hardback books
Like marshmallows, pull off the burnt cover and see the white insides.
You look for the treasures,
Driver’s license, car keys, photo albums
Anything not ruined,
Anything that will let that victim start again.
 
Smoke in my mouth today reminds me of you,
The way you soaked into my clothes, my hair, my skin.
The way my eyes burn, the way I choked on you.
I can’t taste a thing and it’s your fault.
You were the faulty wiring inside me,
The pilot light next to oil-soaked rags
The unattended pan on the stove.
Harmless until you burned me to the ground,
Leaving me with spongy yellow eggs
And a bad taste in my mouth,
And my feet soaked with memories,
And a chunk of life that won’t unhappen.
But I eat the damn eggs.
I still have my treasures.
I can start over once I finish my coffee.
 
 

Cori Davis is an attorney and writer from Northwest Florida. She has been published in the Blackwater Review and won the 2018 Creative Nonfiction prize at Northwest Florida State College. Most of her non-writing time is spent working for several volunteer organizations as well as homeschooling her eight year old son, from whom she derives a great deal of creative inspiration.

A Poem by Douglas Cole

Lila’s Bar and Grille

 

Helicopters are crossing the skies

talk of another war

I’m waiting through the storm

in the cool fogbank

among foghorns and seagull cries

in nowheresville

where the old men hunker

over coffee cups

behind café windows

while spiders crawl centuries

from hand to elbow and back again 

lacing another dream

kingdom to catch us all

those sinister little gods

 

 

Douglas Cole has published four collections of poetry and a novella. His work appears in anthologies such as Best New Writing, Bully Anthology, and Coming Off The Line as well as journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Chiron, The Galway Review, Red Rock Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Slipstream. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net, and has received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry, judged by T.R. Hummer; the Best of Poetry Award from Clapboard House; First Prize in the “Picture Worth 500 Words” from Tattoo Highway. His website is douglastcole.com.

2018 Paddock Review Pushcart Prize Nominations:

Congratulations to the Nominees!

2018 Paddock Review Pushcart Prize Nominations:

· Roy Bentley for the poem “Woman Hanging Out Her Family’s Washing during the Harsh Winter in Eastern Kentucky”

· Heather Corbally Bryant for the poem “The Easterly”

· Rachel Custer for the poem “Field”

· Malcolm Glass for the poem “My Bicycle”

· Helena Minton for the poem “The Visit”

· Anton Yakovlev for the poem “CAT OF DEATH”

A Poem by Keith Moul

A Nap at Rum River

 

          Who would not like to stop
          in the sun at Rum River and nap?

 

In Minnesota, flat terrain offers no surprise, but altitude

(called locally “geospatial extent”) seldom exceeds a tree.

 

Endemic soil fans look up and point, intriguing the tourists

who wrestle disorientation during upward gaze too high and

so topple to what tricksters at these altitudes call “just rest.”

 

Cold spring air leaks squealing, cat cries, into the troposphere;

winds slow, not to end winter, but to end tasteless redundancy.

 

By the way, I am neither native, nor a Vikings fan. If you repeat

what I say, someone here (although very nice people in general)

may try to sell your spleen to an organ hospital in Minneapolis.

I moved here to win a bet; I learned all these facts at first hand;

I did return home (I can’t reveal the location) every four months

or so to send anonymous reportage to the New York Times, not

once having my stories believed. So I’ve started hiking through

sunny Minnesota down the curlicue Rum River (check it out)

that will not permit compass direction; often stopping to nap.

 

If you read this poem, please be sure to then destroy it and live.

 

This poem first appeared in Mojave River Review.

Keith Moul’s poems and photos are published widely. Finishing Line Press released a chap called The Future as a Picnic Lunch in 2015. Aldrich Press published Naked Among Possibilities in 2016; Finishing Line Press has just released (1/17) Investment in Idolatry. In August, 2017, Aldrich Press released Not on Any Map, a collection of earlier poems. These poems are all from a new work about prairie life through U.S. history, including regional trials, character, and attachment to the land.