A Poem by Theresa Hamman

Point Lobos

 

We leaked out

to a world of choppy water,

 

and stood  

tall on a scarp

 

watching the waves surge,

rain spray

 

until the sea dropped

back and away

 

and even though 

we were bereft, 

 

even though

we were washed out 

 

we became salt and air.

 

 

 

Theresa Hamman is a poet from La Grande, Oregon. Her poems can be found in the following: The Tower Journal, Oregon East, basalt, The Paddock Review, Red Savina Reviewand Nailed. She holds an MFA in poetry from Eastern Oregon University and is currently in the process of earning her MA in Literature from Mercy College in New York. Her poetry chapbook All Those Lilting Tongues was published by Finishing Line Press in September, 2018.

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A Poem by Helena Minton

The Visit

 

The first thing you ask for is a map
but they won’t give you one.
The road out here has a number,
a star route, and each sparse house
a p.o. box. The neighbors are told
not to stare. You took a bus from a named city
to get to this stop, a crossroads on the plains
at the edge of a mountain range, then climbed aboard
an old school bus, gray painted over yellow.

A visitor, like you, gives up
license, car keys, money,
and you are given a number
like a star route yourself, a latitude
and a longitude and twenty minutes
to sit in a locked room
and talk. They don’t want you to know
where you are, as if you were blindfolded
and spun around, without the blindfold,
with no point of reference, 
no point of origin, or destination.

They won’t tell you the name of this corridor,
the entranceway you are standing in,
waiting in one gated box inside another box,
as keys clang, wheels spin within locks,
the tumblers turn through their stages.

 *

At last count the one you visit 
can’t describe where his cell is. 
They don’t want you to know either.
A window up high, 4 by 4 inches, 
like a truck’s rear view mirror reveals 
a wash of gray or, on lucky days, robin’s egg blue, 
no movement, not even a bird’s wing. 
Can he almost pretend to read the clouds? 

He is allowed thirty minutes a day
outside in a recessed well, angled
so deep he can’t see over the lip.
Maybe, raising his head like a horse
he can smell the licorice scent of sagebrush.

The clock is ticking.
You and he sit on either side of the table.
Off kilter yourself, you have brought him
what you can, a skein of color
(even the TV is black and white)
and the fleeting exchange of names.

*

He knows the mountains are out there.
The mountains have turned into questions:
Could he see them once? Could he name them?
Colorado a state of what? The names used to
mean something. Now they are reduced to syllables. 
He is forgetting his capitals,
how to point left or right.
No compass. Even if he knew true north
and could head in that direction,
where would he go?

The syllables are fading like a page left out
too long in the sun
he has to strain his eyes to see.
Prairie dog, tumbleweed, plateau,
what they taught him in geography.

*

This land could be called beautiful or desolate
if he could choose the one word he was looking for, 
the adjective to explain 
what they deprive him of, what the thick manual says
to withhold, what they will deprive you of, too.
The few things left he can count
on his fingers, a sense of the senses, 
key, lock, steel door
being slammed, every sound memorized
and cherished, eight footsteps
coming for him.       

 

 

Helena Minton‘s chapbook, The Raincoat Colors was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. She has also published The Canal Bed with Alice James Books, and The Gardener and the Bees with March Street Press. Poems have recently appeared in Sou’wester, The Listening Eye, The Tower Journal, and Ibbetson Street; and in the anthology, Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, from Lost Horse Press.  She has taught English Composition and Creative Writing and worked for many years as a public librarian. She lives near Boston.

A Poem by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Verse Daily, Plume, Rattle, Diode, Pirene’s Fountain, Tinderbox, Nashville Review, Wide Awake, Poets of Los Angeles and elsewhere. She’s the author of four poetry collections; How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017), and Junkie Wife, (2018). Her photographs are published worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly

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

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.