A Poem by Tricia Knoll

 

 

 

Fig Tree

 

 

Naomi says her father

never told a story

without including a fig tree.

 

A donkey tied to a tree trunk

or brothers who pass one

as they quarrel.

 

The muscular fig

roots beyond its limbs,

slurps most of the garden water,

 

the habit of a good story.

Although it’s hard to hide a fig tree,

I discovered mine late.

 

Nightshade, morning glory,

honeysuckle and alder shoots

threw a green cloak cover.

 

I clawed off stranglers,

booed at the squirrels,

and finding it,

 

it found me, fig girl

whose story seems as short

as the shelf-life of a fig.

 

 

 

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet whose work appears widely in journals and anthologies. She has four collections of poetry in print: Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books), Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box), and How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House.) This poem pays nods a tribute to Noami Shihab Nye who has been one of Knoll’s teachers.

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A Poem by Mehnaz Sahibzada

RECLUSE

 

 

A memory to starve like a moth.

The heat melts my resolve. A sip

of water for this cottonmouth.

 

Echoes blacken between my

thoughts.  Nights like this,

my heart pumps fog.  Each

 

incubated recollection a soldier.

Imagine the force of an image

that marches south, like a fist

 

pounding at a door. The past

a pen that bleeds ink.  Don’t

tell me that sleeping alone doesn’t

 

make you anxious.  Hollow sounds

crane my throat.  I’ve lived since

childhood in this quaking house.

 

You have been here too.  The door

a paperweight at 3am. The moon

so close, the mind feels stalked.

 

 

Mehnaz Sahibzada was born in Pakistan and raised in Los Angeles.  She is a 2009 PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry. Her chapbooks, Tongue-Tied:  A Memoir in Poems (2012), and Summer Forgets to Wear a Petticoat (2016), were published by Finishing Line Press.  Her work has appeared in numerous publications, such as Asia Writes, The Rattling Wall, and Pedestal Magazine.  A high school English teacher, she lives in southern California.

A Poem by Shelley Gotterer

 

 

 

Home Visit

 

 

We went to see,

To find out if we had forgotten something.

After hours of driving away from the city, we took the back road

And parked in shade beneath a dusty sycamore.

 

We walked and took it slow, only the measured crunch of boots

Down the long stretch of dirt and clumped pea gravel.

Your eyes were alert for mockingbirds, mine for red-winged blackbirds

Perched on the tremor of reeds along the shallow river.

 

The sun low, just above the hills and lower fields

Laden with hay bales and sharp with stubble.

Pale clustered crowns of Queen Anne’s lace, purple clover,

A tall bent oozing milkweed stalk.

 

Dark clouds raced in from the west.

Finally, long privet hedges tangled with thistle.

We had arrived.

 

A low shingle roof broken open,

Rafters like bones,

A generation of dirt on the warped front porch greasy with vines,

Gouged out eyes of windows,

Fractured pine door panels,

 

The same wooden chest in the musty front room,

Black mold along a leaking wall had stained linoleum,

Fallen chair legs askew, a tobacco tin,

Back in the kitchen shreds of crimson oil cloth like the sneer of lips.

No, we had forgotten nothing.

 

And yet,

Off the back stoop, a young box turtle sits alone and still

In the coiled brown rain like a crumbling icon of jagged gold.

 

 

 

Shelley Gotterer lives in Nashville, Tennessee.  Her writing adventure begins after twenty-seven years as an accomplished storyteller. Her Master’s degree is from Northwestern University from the School of Speech. She was a long-time performer and teaching artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission.  She also has been a featured workshop leader for schools, libraries, and community organizations.

The National Storytelling Network awarded her two Membership Grants, 2014 and 2016 from for her storytelling projects promoting oral language development for young children.  Learn more at www.shelleygotterer.com.

A Poem by Sally Clark

SUMMER FRUIT

 

 

We pick blackberries, dark and sweet, from between

the spiny branches of a saw-leafed bush, his hand and mine

stained and dripping, bending together in the summer sun;

 

baskets on our arms, we walk sandy rows of bright dimpled

strawberries, twist the fruit to roll gently into our hands,

lick the sweet juice from between our fingers;

 

we stretch for orange-fleshed peaches, together, calculating

our grip to pick, but not squeeze, rub off a fresh one

on our sleeve and share a half, each, to drip from our lips;

 

in the steamy kitchen we strip down, boil, scent the air

with sweetness you could lick off the walls, fill one empty jar

after another, sparkling in rows of geranium, tangerine, and plum.

 

When heat passes and the sun pulls away a bit sooner each day,

leaves begin to fall, flowers die back to the ground, we lean

a bit closer to each other to shelter our bodies from the frost

 

creeping into our bones, take a jar off the shelf, pop the seal,

spoon summer’s sweetness into our mouths, look across the table

into each other’s eyes and remember the picking, the pulling,

 

the dripping, the rolling, the staining, the squeezing, the steam,

our naked, fiery, sweet-filled summer gardens and smile,

taste the juice of one another’s lips and relish

 

our sweet harvest.

 

 

 

 

Sally Clark lives in Fredericksburg, Texas. Her poetry has been widely published in journals, magazines, gift books and anthologies and has won awards from poetry contests across the country. One of her poems received recognition in American Poetry Review and Poetry Magazine, and in 2017 another poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Follow her at http://sallyclark.info.

A Poem by Carol L. Deering

A FLURRY OF HORSES

 

 

The clouds are molting. Feathers

tickle the horses, who can’t stand

still. A soft nicker of sun

 

falls through the frosted spray.

The horses leap, swing their heads,

then jog the periphery of joy.

 

This poem was originally published in Weather Watch: Poems from Wyoming, Barbara M. Smith, Ed. (WyoPoets, 2014).

 

 

Carol L. Deering has twice received the Wyoming Arts Council Poetry Fellowship (2016, judge Rebecca Foust; 1999, judge Agha Shahid Ali). Her poetry appears in online and traditional journals, and in the recent anthology Blood, Water, Wind & Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (Sastrugi Press).  Learn more about the poet https://www.caroldeering.com

A Poem by Roy Bentley

Woman Hanging Out Her Family’s Washing during the Harsh Winter in Eastern Kentucky

 

 

Like my grandmother, the dress doesn’t fit her.

And it’s thick sweaters instead of an overcoat.

 

Like my dead mother, she has wild black hair

and props up a clothesline with a yew branch.

 

A dark moves by the creek. A snake perhaps.

Ice stalactites from the eaves of a row house

 

testify to what’s necessary to survive here:

to let pain melt then forget to summon it

 

even once as the sound of a slow freight.

When she was a fleur-de-lis too beautiful

 

for the snapshot moment, she showed up

the sun and moon. Now, she is filigreed

 

with tattooing and scarring and starlight

in laceless, newspaper-filled work shoes.

 

Soon, she’ll glimpse herself in a mirror,

a ghost straight out of Dorothea Lange.

 

The place is a heaven of snakes, though

seeing one in winter is always a bad sign.

 

 

Roy Bentley is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council. His recent book of poems Walking with Eve in the Loved City was selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize. Finishing Line Press is publishing his sixth book, Body of a Deer by a Creek in Summer, this October.