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.

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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.”

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.

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.