A Poem by Karen Mandell

 

 

 

Rose Has a New Walker

 

 

We buy it online. She got her old one,

standard issue gray aluminum, at the hospital

after she fell at Susie’s house last summer.

It’s a man’s walker, and she holds her elbows out like bent wings

when she grasps the handles. It’s too wide for her.

I toss out the question one day, if you had a new walker

what color would you choose.

Blue, she says, just like that. I order blue.

When it comes, we connect the hand brakes,

attach the basket and the seat,

pull the plastic off the wheels.

Can I return it, Rose says.

It’ll be hard, I tell her. It’s from the Internet.

She feels better knowing there’s no choice.

But it’s always good to try again.

Maybe I won’t need it. I ride the exercise bike now.

And in Chi Gong class I stand up longer.

Before I did the exercises from the chair.

Anyway, it’s not blue. I think it’s black.

So for that we’ll return it? It’s navy.

Under the lamp we compromise on navy black

I tell her to try the seat. But always remember

To press the hand brakes when you sit down.

It’s like the brakes on a bike.

She doesn’t get it. She never rode a bike, she says,

she roller skated everywhere, to the botanical conservatory,

to the library. She tightened the skates with a key she wore

around her neck. When they broke, and that was often,

her father would fix them, a tragedy you kids never met him.

I ask Rose to push the walker in the hall.

She can’t help smiling; stately, royal she glides like the King’s barge

down the Thames. The waters part before her; I hear Handel’s music.

It’s nice, she says. But what should I do with the old one. A shame to waste it.

It’ll be a spare, I say. Maybe we’ll take it in the car when we go out.

Remember when Daddy taught me how to ride, I say. Running beside me,

his hand on the fender and then letting go.

Of course I remember, she says, he taught all of you.

And then I was free to pedal around the block, up to the drug store,

turn right, turn right again, over and over, centrifugally

pulled by the gravity of home.

 

 

 

Karen Mandell has taught writing at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis, Mount Ida College in Newton MA, and literature at Framingham South High School. She’s also taught literature at various senior centers in the Boston area. Karen received three writing awards: first place from the American Poetry Society/Oil of Olay contest in 2004, second place winner of the Muriel Craft Bailey award, 2004, and the Charlotte Newberger award from Lilith Magazine.

A Poem by Carla Schwartz

 

 

 

 

Rings

 

 

Saw down a tree and the rings of cellulose

tell the age. I’m not as old as these trees,

and my ring finger is small,

but swells with heat. I wear rings

infrequently. I used to wear an onyx

for good luck. Where is

that ring now?

The only wedding band I have

is the one my mother gave to me

just before she died,

hoping I might have use for the ring,

flourished with wing diamonds.

I wear it when I want to feel wedded,

as I wake in my double bed,

stare out at the emptiness

where my trees once stood,

and listen to the caw of crows,

the coo of mourning doves

who mate for life,

a lone one there, perched on a wire,

a pink band of sunlight around her neck.

 

 

 

Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger. Her poems have appeared in Aurorean, ArLiJo, Fourth River, Fulcrum, Bluefifth, Common Ground, Cactus Heart, Mom Egg, Switched-on Gutenberg, Gyroscope, Naugatuck River, Solstice, SHARKPACK, Triggerfish, Sweet Tree, and Ibbetson Street. Her poem “Gum Surgery” was anthologized in City of Notions, A Boston Poetry Anthology. Her second book of poetry, Intimacy with the Wind, is available from Finishing Line Press or Amazon.com. Find her first book, Mother, One More Thing (Turning Point, 2014) on Amazon.com.  Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,600,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com.

A Poem by Donna Wallace

SAND ASHCAN

 

 

Beached cigarette butts

lean into tiny groups,

the porch ashtray’s cold,

rolled stumps deep in sand—

addiction holds vigil

over a litter of spent matches.

 

Snuffed and cocked

this way and that,

they talk, recollect how it felt

to be cupped from the wind

for a splint of wood

tipped with combustion

and a flick of friction,

lit between parted lips:

we glowed in light and dark

inhaled as fire, rose as smoke.

 

They remember the pack

the cellophane tear, the smack,

fingers that pulled them,

lips that nursed them,

lungs that took them in—

the glow

the party

the chatter

the revelry

the coffee

the next day’s

light—

 

Remember when

we were tall,

life was long,

we glowed

we smoked

wanting a light

wanting to burn.

 

 

 

Donna Wallace (Lewisville, NC) is currently president of Winston Salem Writers and director of Poetry In Plain Sight, now a state-wide initiative placing poetry in public spaces. Her poetry has been featured in Camel City Dispatch, Poetry In Plain Sight, A Funny Thing: A Poetry and Prose Anthology, Old Mountain Press, 2015. A retired nurse and seminarian, she enjoys riding her bicycle all over the place.

A Poem by Jami Macarty

Aground

 

 

at maximum ebb—

how goes the world

that nonpurposefully

runs your ship aground

 

horizontal hulk afloat mud flat

lies across wind

a dissonance that is there

but we don’t want it to be

 

alien afternoons the penalty

we don’t know what you know

 

how about this aseptic room

you don’t open your eyes in

every day swelling more tubes

tracheotomy questions

 

whose nurse’s hands

these are on your genitals

 

how you are unbroken

beyond what this is

 

one day every day

we keep thinking we will wake

from this tanker, its conspicuous

gloom filling the center

 

and you won’t be in that hospital bed

and the sea will be a magic again

 

 

Jami Macarty is the author of Landscape of The Wait, a chapbook of poems focusing on her nephew, William’s car accident and year-long coma (Finishing Line Press, June 2017) and Mind of Spring, winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award (Vallum October, 2017). Former Executive Director of Tucson Poetry Festival (1996-2005), she teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University, is a co-founder and editor of the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings–Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Anomalous Press A recipient of grants from Arizona Commission on the Arts, Banff Center, and BC Arts Council, among others; several times a Pushcart Prize nominee; a finalist for the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award, and the winner of the 2016 Real Good Poem Prize (a 2,000 purse!), her poems can be read in American and Canadian journals, including Arc Poetry Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Prism international, Vallum: contemporary poetry, Verse Daily, and Volt.

A Poem by Donna Wallace

SAND ASHCAN

 

 

Beached cigarette butts

lean into tiny groups,

the porch ashtray’s cold,

rolled stumps deep in sand—

addiction holds vigil

over a litter of spent matches.

 

Snuffed and cocked

this way and that,

they talk, recollect how it felt

to be cupped from the wind

for a splint of wood

tipped with combustion

and a flick of friction,

lit between parted lips:

we glowed in light and dark

inhaled as fire, rose as smoke.

 

They remember the pack

the cellophane tear, the smack,

fingers that pulled them,

lips that nursed them,

lungs that took them in—

the glow

the party

the chatter

the revelry

the coffee

the next day’s

light—

 

Remember when

we were tall,

life was long,

we glowed

we smoked

wanting a light

wanting to burn.

 

 

Donna Wallace (Lewisville, NC) is currently president of Winston Salem Writers and director of Poetry In Plain Sight, now a state-wide initiative placing poetry in public spaces. Her poetry has been featured in Camel City Dispatch, Poetry In Plain Sight, A Funny Thing: A Poetry and Prose Anthology, Old Mountain Press, 2015. A retired nurse and seminarian, she enjoys riding her bicycle all over the place.

A Poem by Randall Brown

Debt

 

         I sit the kids in the family room, start talking about the 1979 Pirates, how they’d won a championship with this song “We are Family” by Sister Sledge. I tell Rachel I don’t know what a sledge is; I tell Noah I’m getting to the point.
         I say I’m trying to tell them how their grandmother wanted a Cosmopolitan magazine; the final game of the series was on; there weren’t DVDs or ways to see it again. She told me I had to bike to the Pensupreme to get this magazine. She wouldn’t let up, ended up trying to drag me up the stairs by my hair.
         You want us to hate her, Noah says. Rachel wants to know if I got her the magazine. Yes, I tell her. But it was the wrong month, one she already had.
         And? Noah asks.
         I went back, got her the right one.
         I would never do that, he says. That’s because you’re mean, Rachel says to him.
         I paid for it with paper route money, I tell them. And that’s why I can’t just give you the money for I-Tunes.
         Whatever, Noah says. He’ll clean his room, though, if it matters that much. And Rachel will fold laundry, maybe take the dinner dishes away.
         They’re both sorry they asked. Stargell would stand at the plate and swing that bat like a windmill and I didn’t have to get that magazine but I did. Why?
         I wanted the world to owe me something.

 

 

 

 

Randall Brown is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and he appears in the Best Small Fictions 2015 & 2017, The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction, and the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Microfiction. He founded and directs FlashFiction.Net and has been published and anthologized widely, both online and in print. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. He received his MFA from Vermont College.

A Poem by Jayne Moore Waldrop

Coming through Cumberland Gap

 

 

The well-marked trail leads straight uphill,

crossing a stream that roars and echoes

through a cave, once a shelter for travelers.

The water cuts through generations of stone,

nine generations to be exact since my people

walked this way. My thighs and lungs strain

but I push on, shod in appropriate footwear,

swathed in tick repellant, lathered in sunscreen,

energized by abundant color and surprise along

the path. Shocking pink blossoms line redbud

branches to frame electric blue skies,

and patches of wildflowers vary with shade

or sun through the woods. How hard, I think

as I climb, it must have been to head off

into the wilderness, to find the notch between

mountains for admission to a place called

Kentucky. The path wasn’t new and it wasn’t

theirs, but one long worn by others before

we claimed it and made it our own. While I

can’t change the history of loss and taking,

the road conjures those who came before. My

eight-great-grandmother came on foot

with children who were surely hungry, tired,

and with soiled pants. Was it her idea to make

the journey? Did she believe it was her way

to a better life? Were they cold, barefoot, sick,

scared, snakebit, peaked? Her risky story makes

me feel modern, fragile, and in awe

of what it took to make it through the gap.

 

 

Jayne Moore Waldrop is a Kentucky writer, attorney and former book columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Limestone Journal, New Madrid Journal, Kudzu, Minerva Rising, Deep South Magazine, and other journals. Her stories have been named Judge’s Choice in the 2016 Still Journal Fiction Contest and as finalists in the Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, the Tillie Olsen Fiction Prize, and the AWP Intro Journals Project. A 2014 graduate of the Murray State University MFA in Creative Writing Program, Waldrop lives in Lexington.