A Poem by Jamie Lynn Heller

An Entire Life

 

 

There’s nothing like

 

going through Great Aunt Priscilla’s house

after hospice has removed its equipment

and you’ve donated the wheel chair,

found the walker, flushed the pills,

debated what to do with an opened package

of adult diapers and her prosthetic breasts,

opened the blinds and windows to let in light and air,

found her old set of dentures,

her package of hearing aid batteries,

her crazy beaded chain attached to her reading glasses,

 

and

 

discovering a

lacy red nightgown,

stuffed in the back of a drawer,

in a style a couple of decades old,

a couple of sizes too small,

 

to remind you of

her life

before

 

 

 

“An Entire Life” first appeared in Kansas City Voices: A Periodical of Writing and Art.

 

 

 

Jamie Lynn Heller uses poetry as her caffeine.  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (Little Balkans Review 2014) and Best of the Net nominee (805 Lit + Art 2016). Her chapbook Domesticated was published in 2015 (Finishing Line Press). She received honorable mention awards in Whispering Prairie Press Writing Contest 2012, and Kansas Voices Contest 2017, 2011. For a complete list of publications see jamielynnheller.blogspot.com.

A Poem by Vincent Francone

Mud

 

 

Last night we painted our faces

with mud

to tighten the skin and remove dirt from pores.

We sat the required ten minutes

you with the dog

me with a drink

then washed our faces, looked over the results:

My god, the years are erased!

We never met, we never ate pizza, drank wine

in Lisbon,

ate oysters in Mexico and in New Orleans

before beignets,

got lost on our bicycles, played rummy in a bus station,

played hooky from work,

caught a midday movie, snuck into another,

walked San Francisco,

walked the

Champs-Élysées,

cried for days on end, got caught in the rain,

overslept and lied our way out of obligation,

watched so much TV we fell back asleep

and forgot to feed the cat,

ate take out food, made a snack at 2:00 AM

got drunk in the afternoon

you on wine

me on scotch

and walked until we sweat alcohol;

we never burned food because we forgot

it was cooking

or wasted all our money or gave away our clothes

or watched your nephew grow up

or drove through Chicago for hours

because

we couldn’t stand the apartment,

and we never kissed, laughed, never teased each other,

you never told me I steal the covers,

we never said the three words

much less the two,

we never broke a promise or bought flowers

or wrote poems or replaced the shabby coats

and shoes; we never tolerated the other’s

bad breath or prostrated at the feet

of our odd bodies, we never

subsisited off peanut butter sandwiches

and fretted over back accounts

or asked the other to read an email

before we sent it, or to borrow

money until payday

or trust each other

with each other.

None of it! We got the years back.

Lucky us.

 

 

“Mud” first appeared in The Penn Review.

 

 

 

Vincent Francone is a writer from Chicago whose memoir, Like a Dog, was published in the fall of 2015. He won first place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition (Gwendolyn Brooks Award) and is at work on a collection of poems and stories. Visit www.vincentfrancone.com to read his work or say hi.

A Poem by Bryan D. Dietrich

THE RIFT

 

 

July 2011, Kennedy Space Center

 

Our final craft arises from one blue

and sinks into another we call true.

Deep calls unto deep, the Psalmist states,

suggesting that our blood is like the straits

we nod beside when sounding out our souls

from here, the edge of space, these restless shoals

where ships have launched toward the blackest sea,

where mothers, husbands, wives upon this lea

have watched the ones they love let go of Earth,

trajected into something too like birth,

that airless ocean where we once accreted

from waves of dust and absence, superheated,

molded, brought to being out of flood,

like Love herself from salt and foam and blood.

 

We’ve shuttled past this garden, spent our spoor

outward, always outward, always more

to fight that feeling that we may be less,

to find a balm for Gilead’s unrest.

We do not want to be here in the dark,

alone, without the hope of other ark.

We sow the upper air with lenses, mirrors,

reflecting on our existential terrors.

No, this is not the first, the last Atlantis.

We stand upon the strand like Marinatos

who stumbled on the ruins of that city.

Plato wrote about it, wrote with pity.

He also wrote of love, its rift, its scars,

of all we seek when we seek out the stars.

 

 

 

 

Bryan D. Dietrich is the author of six books of poems and co-editor of a recent poetry anthology.  He has published poems in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Paris Review, Harvard Review, Yale Review, and many other journals. He has won The Paris Review Prize, a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, a Writers at Work Fellowship, and others.

A Poem by Darren C. Demaree

EMILY AS I WROTE THAT WHOLE BOOK TO SHOW YOU HOW MUCH OF A MESS I WILL BE IF YOU DIE BEFORE I DO

 

 

 

I wrote all ninety-six of those poems,

so that you might understand how often

I imagine you dying when you’re an hour

 

late from when you said you’d be home.

I wrote the book so you would keep your phone

charged.  I wrote that book so you might

 

experience the whole of my catastrophe

response.  I placed the book at a publisher

in Australia, so you’d never actually read it.

 

 

 

 

Darren C. Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in numerous magazines/journals, including Diode, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.

A Poem by Geo. Staley

What Became of You, Judy O’Brien?

 

 

There you are

looking out from our 9th grade yearbook

smiling, curly dark hair.

Below the small b&w photo

thanking me for hiding you from

our less-than-pleasant Algebra teacher.

 

Now, 50 years later, Judy O’Brien,

I remember little of

hiding you from that Algebra teacher

with her quadratic equations.

Was I being helpful?

could the math have been that difficult?

the teacher that onerous?

Or were we in the quixotic dance of 9th grade intimacy,

a dance that could never outlast an Algebra class

except in the nether creases of my mind?

 

 

 

 

 

Geo. Staley is retired from 25 years of teaching writing and literature at Portland Community College. He had also taught in New England, Appalachia, and on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. His poetry has appeared in Chest, Four Quarters, Loonfeather, RE:AL Artes Liberales, New Mexico Humanities Review, Fireweed, Oregon East, Evening Street Review, and many others. Arc of the Ear is his 3rd chapbook of poems and was released by Finishing Line Press in 2015.

A Poem by Theresa Hamman

Driving the Desert with Zep

 

 

We were bees once, in May

before the lilac blooms blew

away, before we were itchy,

always scratching and eating

prickly pears while our skin peeled

and twisted inside out.  We kissed

 

before our chapped lips cracked

from all that thirsty August heat,

before we rolled naked into cactus

water and wrapped ourselves in snake

skin, before we laughed

 

while the yellow desert ate us,

and its hornet’s nest erupted

into “Kashmir” and all that floating

dust, all those lilting tongues—

 

found us.

 

Do you remember?

 

We knew how to buzz once,

how to light up

before we became dead jackets,

before we became sulfured honey.

 

 

 

 

Theresa Hamman is a poet from La Grande, OR. Her poems can be found in the following literary journals and magazines: Red Savina Review, The Tower Journal, Oregon East, basalt, and Nailed. She also teaches undergraduate composition and creative writing courses at Eastern Oregon University and Southern New Hampshire University. She earned her MFA in 2016 from Eastern Oregon University, where she was also the editor of the student literary journal Oregon East. Although she enjoys writing in all creative genres, her first love is poetry. She gets lost in the musicality of it and how it bends language to create new objects.

Theresa is the mother of two grown daughters and adoring grandma to two grandchildren. When not writing, she enjoys reading, teaching, the occasional Netflix binge, and spending time with her family.

A Poem by Rosalie Sanara Petrouske

Burnt

 

 

Everything withered, the pear flowers

shriveled like onion leaves.

The grass beneath my bare heels

crackles as if I were stepping

on sheaves of dried corn.

My prize lily, blooming madly in June,

when the fireflies dipped

into its abundant petals

has wilted to a few crumpled leaves,

an emaciated stalk.

Rain, rain,

the blue jay screeches.

Rain whispers

the willow,

even the river is too low

to paddle.

I am grateful for the moths

thumping at the midnight pane,

for the night-flying bat.

I almost hear the earth

absorbing darkness,

the distant whistle as the train

clatters over the bridge,

trusses creaking and swaying

beneath its weight.

No breath of wind stirs a leaf.

Dry, so dry,

my mouth

thirsts for a drink,

my lips

hurt,

sore and waiting

for the kiss of water,

and my heart beats

fast and hard.

I feel it sear

with all the longing,

all the want

of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

Rosalie Sanara Petrouske received her M.A. in English and Writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.  She is an Adjunct Professor in the English Department at Lansing Community College, where she currently teaches Freshman Composition and Creative writing classes.  Finishing Line Press published her second book of poems What We Keep in 2016.  She wrote the poem “Burnt” about an unusual long and hot Michigan summer, but it’s also about want, and about the things you might want, and never have.