A Poem by Cori Davis

AFTER THE ALARM

 
 
Breakfast time and I’m wearing your robe,
The one you forgot on the bathroom door.
It stinks of you, cigarettes and spray deodorant, but hey
It’s fuzzy and warm, so thanks.
Coffee and toast and overcooked eggs
Rubbery and strange yellow, last resort when the cereal is gone.
The first bite is like activated charcoal.
All I can taste is smoke.
 
A burned-down home smells like a campfire,
Gets in your hair, makes you think of marshmallows.
Stay too long and it gets in your mouth,
Gritty ashes and the sour taste of ruined things,
And trying not to look at the victim
Sitting in their bathrobe or Red Cross blanket,
Clutching a cardboard coffee cup,
Wishing to unhappen the last few hours.
What the fire doesn’t get, the water does.
Walk through the burnt places,
Listen to your feet squelch.Ceiling tiles and children’s clothes
And the carbonized husks of hardback books
Like marshmallows, pull off the burnt cover and see the white insides.
You look for the treasures,
Driver’s license, car keys, photo albums
Anything not ruined,
Anything that will let that victim start again.
 
Smoke in my mouth today reminds me of you,
The way you soaked into my clothes, my hair, my skin.
The way my eyes burn, the way I choked on you.
I can’t taste a thing and it’s your fault.
You were the faulty wiring inside me,
The pilot light next to oil-soaked rags
The unattended pan on the stove.
Harmless until you burned me to the ground,
Leaving me with spongy yellow eggs
And a bad taste in my mouth,
And my feet soaked with memories,
And a chunk of life that won’t unhappen.
But I eat the damn eggs.
I still have my treasures.
I can start over once I finish my coffee.
 
 

Cori Davis is an attorney and writer from Northwest Florida. She has been published in the Blackwater Review and won the 2018 Creative Nonfiction prize at Northwest Florida State College. Most of her non-writing time is spent working for several volunteer organizations as well as homeschooling her eight year old son, from whom she derives a great deal of creative inspiration.

A Poem by Douglas Cole

Lila’s Bar and Grille

 

Helicopters are crossing the skies

talk of another war

I’m waiting through the storm

in the cool fogbank

among foghorns and seagull cries

in nowheresville

where the old men hunker

over coffee cups

behind café windows

while spiders crawl centuries

from hand to elbow and back again 

lacing another dream

kingdom to catch us all

those sinister little gods

 

 

Douglas Cole has published four collections of poetry and a novella. His work appears in anthologies such as Best New Writing, Bully Anthology, and Coming Off The Line as well as journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Chiron, The Galway Review, Red Rock Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Slipstream. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net, and has received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry, judged by T.R. Hummer; the Best of Poetry Award from Clapboard House; First Prize in the “Picture Worth 500 Words” from Tattoo Highway. His website is douglastcole.com.

2018 Paddock Review Pushcart Prize Nominations:

Congratulations to the Nominees!

2018 Paddock Review Pushcart Prize Nominations:

· Roy Bentley for the poem “Woman Hanging Out Her Family’s Washing during the Harsh Winter in Eastern Kentucky”

· Heather Corbally Bryant for the poem “The Easterly”

· Rachel Custer for the poem “Field”

· Malcolm Glass for the poem “My Bicycle”

· Helena Minton for the poem “The Visit”

· Anton Yakovlev for the poem “CAT OF DEATH”

A Poem by Keith Moul

A Nap at Rum River

 

          Who would not like to stop
          in the sun at Rum River and nap?

 

In Minnesota, flat terrain offers no surprise, but altitude

(called locally “geospatial extent”) seldom exceeds a tree.

 

Endemic soil fans look up and point, intriguing the tourists

who wrestle disorientation during upward gaze too high and

so topple to what tricksters at these altitudes call “just rest.”

 

Cold spring air leaks squealing, cat cries, into the troposphere;

winds slow, not to end winter, but to end tasteless redundancy.

 

By the way, I am neither native, nor a Vikings fan. If you repeat

what I say, someone here (although very nice people in general)

may try to sell your spleen to an organ hospital in Minneapolis.

I moved here to win a bet; I learned all these facts at first hand;

I did return home (I can’t reveal the location) every four months

or so to send anonymous reportage to the New York Times, not

once having my stories believed. So I’ve started hiking through

sunny Minnesota down the curlicue Rum River (check it out)

that will not permit compass direction; often stopping to nap.

 

If you read this poem, please be sure to then destroy it and live.

 

This poem first appeared in Mojave River Review.

Keith Moul’s poems and photos are published widely. Finishing Line Press released a chap called The Future as a Picnic Lunch in 2015. Aldrich Press published Naked Among Possibilities in 2016; Finishing Line Press has just released (1/17) Investment in Idolatry. In August, 2017, Aldrich Press released Not on Any Map, a collection of earlier poems. These poems are all from a new work about prairie life through U.S. history, including regional trials, character, and attachment to the land.

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.

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.