A Poem by AR Dugan

Automatic Knitting

 

 

My mom sits, does it

without thinking cast on

while doing other things

slip one, knit two. I watch as

she tears it out. Starts over

cast on, back loop, slip, slip, slip.

I want to ask why, but I can’t.

She seems to prefer starting over

to finishing—the journey to the

destination continue, purl through

back loop. I think, maybe chasing handspun

perfection is the product—the only one

that matters anyway stockinette

stich, reverse, repeat. Couldn’t be

the few hand-knit clothes I had.

By not asking out loud, I’ve become a participant

through back loop, together, skip, continue.

My ears become her hands, hypnotic rhythm,

as I watch the aluminum needles click.

I think about the mind’s tether,

our hands kept busy escaping.

 

 

AR Dugan has an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. His poetry can be seen or is forthcoming in a number of literary magazines and reviews, most recently Woven Tale Press. He taught high school English in southeastern Massachusetts for nine years. AR reads poetry for Ploughshares and currently teaches literature and writing at Emerson College and Wheaton College. He lives in Boston. ardugan.com

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A Poem by Richard King Perkins II

 

Chromatic Fragrance

 

Like a used book in the library free bin,
you’ve become an overlooked thing
that no one wants to check out anymore.

But I’m one of the few people left
who can read you differently;

remember the minor scandals caused
when you walked past the snack stand
at Washington Park

in a wet t-shirt pressed
over a light-blue bikini.

Your mania gave birth to a body 
which spoke with warped energy
and chromatic fragrance

in a voice misunderstood
by all but my most ancient self.

Yet still, your touch thuds with the essence
of unrealized destiny,

a technique taking us to
the place where undertakers 
choose to congregate
in a muddy huddle

deciding whether what remains of us
needs to be frozen or embalmed.

Neither of us ever thought
we’d see the death of print 
or the desirability in each other;

couldn’t have imagined
that the sun would stop slavering
so soon.

 

 

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 fifteen hundred publications.

A Poem by Anita Pulier

Metropolitan Farming

 

 

First the bulbs from a third grade

school catalog that quietly

died in cracked coffee cups,

 

then, propped on toothpicks,

the avocado pit

stretching its desperate roots

 

into stale water before

bidding farewell to the disgruntled potato,

too busy rotting to notice,

 

next came the goldfish and hamsters,

showered with attention and treats

until they too keeled over.

 

And so we taught

our city children responsibility,

the wonder of life-giving forces,

how to cope with disappointment,

 

the art of pushing on.

 

 

“Metropolitan Farming” is from my FLP Chapbook Sounds Of Morning

 

 

For years Anita raced from a New Jersey tennis court at 7 am to a legal court in NJ or Manhattan or to her law office in Brooklyn. The most poetic writing she encountered was not hers but that of an adversary who wrote, “The plaintiff’s argument holds no fruit.” Happily, when she retired she traded legal writing for poetry. Anita’s poems have been published in many journals and in four anthologies as well as three poetry chapbooks and recently her first full length book The Butcher’s Diamond, all of which were published by Finishing Line Press.

A Poem by Sharon Kennedy-Nolle

 

The Return of the Woolly Mammoth

 

You rarely wore it,

though you yourself chose the color, midnight blue,

and knee-length cut. In derision, you named it

“the woolly mammoth,” pointing to its Pleistocene proportions.

Still, at each sign of snow, I nagged you to wear it.

 

The last time I saw you,

you confessed you’d have to give it away.

“Not one more winter,” you swore.

Yet when you chose it once more,

were you thinking of me?

 

Last of its species, the mammoth was hunted

to extinction.

In a different Ice Age, it took you down

under the cold waters

of the dam, and sure enough, kept you down,

sodden, for a month,

until you surfaced, found.

 

I like to think of you buttoned up,

and until the last

breaths, beats,

its boxy bulk somehow

kept you unaware,

insulated from creeping cold discovery.

 

 

This poem first appeared in Streetlight Magazine.

 

 

A note from the poet: This poem is part of a larger collection of elegies I’m assembling that focus on the recent loss of my son.

A graduate of Vassar College, I hold an MFA and doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. In addition to attending the Sarah Lawrence Summer Writing Institute for several years, I was accepted to the Bread Loaf Conferences in both Middlebury and Sicily in 2016 as well as the Sewanee Writers’ Conference this year. This year marks the fourth that I have been honored to be a scholarship participant at the Frost Place Summer Writing Program.

My poetry has appeared or is upcoming in apt, Bluestem Magazine, Broad River Review, The Cape Rock, Chicago Quarterly Review, Delmarva Review, The Dickinson Review, Juked, Lindenwood Review, Menacing Hedge, The Midwest Quarterly, OxMag, Pennsylvania English, The Round, Schuylkill Valley Review, Storyscape, Streetlight Magazine, Talking River, Zoned, and Westchester Review, among others, while my dissertation was published as Writing Reconstruction: Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the Postwar South (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). My chapbook, Black Wick was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Tupelo Snowbound Chapbook Contest.

A Poem by Alyssa D. Ross

 

 

 

 

 

If People Were Safe

 

 

It was another bitter winter in Northern Virginia.

He was making music and I was stocking make-up

and we were both teaching classes, still learning each other

when the snow started to come down around us.

 

They were tiny flakes at first that piled up fast.

We watched the sheet of snow grow to five inches

before they cancelled all of our classes.

We stayed up all night waiting and wondering

 

if people were safe and wishing it would never stop

so that we could stay in that house together.

The next morning, we awoke to the shining,

white silence that accompanies two feet

 

of fresh snow still-falling in February,

the cold month of my birth.

Our unexpected freedom meant that we’d been gifted

a real breakfast without restraint:

 

no molasses granola bars or bruised fruits,

we would make a breakfast feast

with soft-fried eggs and uncured bacon,

dishes that take time. The best item would,

 

of course, be his secret recipe

Belgian waffles with big squares and marshmallow mouth feel.

I poured mimosas and watched the snow

while the seasoned batter baked in his special

 

ron skillet that browned the batter around the edges,

leaving behind a vanilla aroma that lingered

in the living room for days after the first forecast.

We touched toes on the couch while we consumed

 

the meat and sweets that were normally reserved

for the weekend, when we had time to appreciate decadence.

Maple syrup stuck my tongue, making me forget the days to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Alyssa D. Ross is native to Guntersville, Alabama, though she studied art and literature in Northern Virginia for many years. While teaching at George Mason University, she attained her MFA in Creative Nonfiction. She later earned a PhD from Auburn University where she now teaches Composition, Literature, and Technical Writing. Her educational endeavors also include teaching writing classes for the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. Representative  publications include nonfiction, poetry, fiction, digital texts, and hybrid work. Her writing has appeared in Meat for Tea, Vine Leaves Press, Phoebe Journal of Literature and Art, The Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Shanti Arts Quarterly, and Hawaii Pacific Review, among others.

A Poem by C.M. Clark

You Will Not Make Relics

 

 

This time Le-Ah brought flowers. She wrapped

them in oiled paper to discourage

the black flies, the army ants, the

 

rampaging legions of the under core – set

to work their spell. This chained plot she named

her garden, not hers really

 

just plowed and pruned by one blunt-cut grandmother

dressed in cotton and knit socks, one

never-mirrored face

 

to face. Yet the gardening gloves

fit hand to glove like a

glove. Le-Ah

 

never saw the irony in the empty day. There were clouds

obscuring the sun and their eyes gazed sideways –

the wind.

 

Now the day is daylight’s end.

There are no geese to separate,

their plucking subdued – the light

 

closed in cloud cover – the shade

clear across the yard of sandgrain and

slide. Le-Ah slips

 

away, dogged to stealth

in the corners of traffic – last feed

last peat ember – bed and food

 

a reluctant camouflage.

 

The condo in Xi’an was spacious, the garden cool and

two flights down. In summer

insects flew, finding the pinholes

 

in the kitchen screen. But room to wander

from room

to room.

 

Movement to a space framing absolution,

cheek by jowl enumerated – and slip-streaming site by site,

small, one key cut the illusion

 

of security. The papers of note keep

company decomposing watermarks,

fingerprints under black light

 

the milestones and threshold markers,

the mule’s retort. Joint tenants

of an old world

 

limned by paper.

 

The sand has a voice, the raptors,

the wings of falcons sheering cloud wool.

The spring coats of young camels, the males.

 

In Xi’an the desk drawers opened

and closed, the fires banked, the windows oiled

hinges oiled, newsprint, cleaning casements

 

with vinegar, its presence loud, loud

the street traffic, the feet of females prosaic and secular,

the males bouncing angels’ virtual choirs.

 

Dinner tables and low-riding clouds

in spring. Basso profundo, the fathers and brothers,

the sons by marriage, like clouds interred.

 

The grounding horizon, the limit line –

a scarab that entered the wrong

ear, the wrong untraveled

 

voyagers, the singing higher, the loss

of range

and hormone and sheer

 

accompaniment.

 

 

 

C.M. Clark’s poetry has appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Metonym Literary Journal, The Lindenwood Review, Spire Light, Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry & Prose, the South Florida Poetry Journal, and Gulf Stream magazine, and will be featured in Demeter Press’s forthcoming anthology, Travellin’ Mama. Clark was runner-up for the Slate Roof Press Chapbook Contest and Elyse Wolf Prize, and a finalist for the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Series. She also served as inaugural Poet-in-Residence at the Deering Estate Artists Village in Miami. Author of full-length works, Charles Deering Forecasts the Weather & Other Poems (Solution Hole Press, 2012) and Dragonfly (Solution Hole Press, 2016), Clark’s most recent collection, The Five Snouts, was published by Finishing Line Press (2017).

A Poem by Malcolm Glass

 

 

 

My Bicycle

 

 

Pennies, quarters gathered

from my mother’s change

purse for weeks, tumbled

from the jar to be rolled,

a heavy ffteen dollars.

 

Foster Fanning’s Bicycle

Repair Shop had seven used

bikes lined up at the curb.

We had just enough for the least

expensive one. Mr. Fanning

had cobbled together a mangy

hybrid from his stock of broken

bikes, a heavy-duty frame,

 

the fork and fenders from

a Monkey-Ward, one wheel

from a J. C. Higgins, the other

from a Schwinn, and handlebars

like horns on a steer, from God

knows. He gave it a new paint

job with a brush: thick,

shiny black enamel.

 

He said it was a Roadmaster,

though the logo had vanished

under the paint. So my bicycle

was nameless, like Dickinson’s

frog. It ate puffed rice and wore

white tee-shirts with rolled-up

sleeves. It sat at the back

of the classroom and never

raised its hand. My bike and I

rode down the street quite

anonymous, forgettable,

like a stranger in an unmarked

grave, the hero in an unpublished

story, a nameless Samaritan

too good to have a name.

 

 

 

Poems by Malcolm Glass have been published in many journals, including Poetry (Chicago), Nimrod, The Sewanee Review, High Plains Literary Review, The Laurel Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is a retired professor of creative writing and former editor for Zone 3 and Cumberland Poetry Review. Glass has published seven books of poetry and several books on the craft of writing.

As a writer he has been guided by a comment W. H. Auden made to him fifty-seven years ago: “The best way to become a poet is to write oneself through the history of poetry in English.”