A Poem by Maryfrances Wagner

Eye Tests

 

The first technician says, Click

each time you see a flashing light.

I click and click and click.

Let’s try taking a picture of your retina,

she says and switches me to another

machine that flashes light into my eye.

I am blind until framed prints dance

on the office wall like gray ghosts—

so much like teen summers I spent

in a lounger staring into the sun’s

hot eye. Red haze follows me

to a chair.  I wait until another technician

calls me.  Can you see this? she asks

handing me a photo. I see what appears

as Vaseline oozing in my eye around

tiny blood vessels.   She shows me

another photo.  This is a healthy eye,

she says.  No globs on this photo.  I see,

I say.  We call that drusen, she says.

Let’s take one more.  Get ready

for the flash.  The other technician

reports you clicked too many times.  

What does this mean?  I ask.

The doctor will speak to you soon, she says.

Outside, the sun so bright

and young and tan.

Maryfrances Wagner’s books include Salvatore’s Daughter, Light Subtracts Itself, Red Silk (Thorpe Menn Book Award for Literary Excellence), Dioramas (Mammoth) and Pouf (FLP).  Poems have appeared in New Letters, Midwest Quarterly, Laurel Review, Voices in Italian Americana, Unsettling America:  An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (Penguin Books), Literature Across Cultures (Pearson/Longman), Bearing Witness, The Dream Book, An Anthology of Writings by Italian American Women (American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation), et.al.  She co-edits I-70 Review.

A Poem by Eric Allen Yankee

American Kings

 

No dreams anymore, right?

That’s ok, I’ll find one somewhere.

I lost my health insurance

last year. That’s ok, because

I’m an American. My bones

are held together by bootstraps.

I take iron pills to remind me

that I used to make steel.

I go to Church.

I paid taxes when I had a job.

The politicians convinced me

Welfare is bad for me

and that affordable

housing is a crutch.

Be strong and dependent on no one

they told me.

I’m an American.

I load my gun

and make the others bleed.

I’ll build the wall.

I listen to my leaders.

They know how to preserve

their wealth. Someday it will

trickle down to me, because

I’m an American. I believe

in freedom and dying.

I’m an American. I must believe

in

my king

for

his hand is always around my throat.

 

 

 

Eric Allen Yankee is a poet and freelance writer. His poems appear in publications like Crab Fat Magazine, Vanilla Sex Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, The Good Men Project, The People’s Tribune, and more. His work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His chapbook RIOT is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His second chapbook American Bullet will be out later this year through Atomic Theory Micro Press (December 2017).

Riot is available for preorder at Finishing Line Press: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/riot-by-eric-allen-yankee/

A Poem by Lisa Richards

The Pawn Shop

 

I’ve been shining gems, all my life:

Gold chains, the graduation opal.

Lowering them in on the ammonia tray,

dazzled by prism beauty, inhaling their cleanliness—

These were items of principle:

Relatives pierced me with smooth studs

and a Mexican-made Italian Horn of Plenty.

(I wore it under a ripped t-shirt

and wrote unmarketable poetry).

I am a woman wading

up through the smells, oils, the face-pack apologies

to a visual strangeness:

Fake rocks,

the listless, silver, green-going things.

The stiff men, the ties that choke them.

I held the gloved palms

and saw the room darken at my own unjewelled image in the mirror.

For the talking piece of earth, hands of grain

for the oyster eyes, their pearl-worth,

I robbed my ring fingers.

Each cell heaved, returned to its previous chemistry.

In the forbidden river,

my limbs float upward in a pool of light

like a deep, rich, red boat rocking.

Lisa Richards earned her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from U.C.L.A., and her M.S.W. from U.S.C. She is a Board Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work, and has maintained a consulting practice in Southern California for over thirty years. She is published in her field and has presented at numerous conferences. Lisa received an Honorable Mention from the Academy of American Poets. She recently won residencies from Turkey Land Cove Foundation, Hypatia-in-the-Woods, and University of Washington’s Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center. In 2012, Lisa co-authored Dear Mallory: Letters To a Teenage Girl Who Killed Herself (New Middle Press) following the 2011 suicide of her only child. Dear Mallory received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was called “hauntingly candid” by The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dear Mallory has been added to the recommended reading list of the American Association of Suicidology, and is being used as a suicide prevention tool in schools and psychotherapy offices. Dear Mallory is also a resource for survivors of suicide loss.

For more information, please go to http://dearmalloryletters.com/

She is the author of Their Sobering Suicides (Finishing Line Press) available at amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Their-Soberingsuicides-Lisa-Richards/dp/194489988X

A Poem by Deborah Kahan Kolb

Au Pair

 

I.

 

A cape starling or amethyst, some little bird –

Afrikaans

warbler, shows up in the greening spring, miniature

flicker-beat fluffing her breast, and gingerly finds

her perch among

our young. From somewhere within the murmuration

she exhales, violet-backed, wearing her mantle

like a boy.

Pied starling, fledging along with our own nestlings,

content to hover, and admire the view. Long-tailed

glossy starling,

her plumage lambent and glowing. Lamprotornis

how fitting. A Tiffany work of art. Shimmer

up to us,

little bird. Gently she lights upon our New York

nest, but every so often I sense the sudden

run, the nimble

lift-off and vanishing flight of this lovely bird

back to Port Elizabeth, to the African

nesting ground,

the vivid southern tropics that’d spawned this chick.

 

II.

 

No address in the U.S. is proof

of residency except for your pulsing

heart emoji, fitted into a cage

of ribs built of pipe cleaners and hair

elastics, a rainbow of chortles,

and a compass pointing straight ahead

and a little to the left. Ons is werklik geseënd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Kahan Kolb was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Much of her poetry reflects the unique experiences and challenges of growing up in, and ultimately leaving, the insular world of Hasidic Judaism. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetica, Voices Israel, Veils, Halos & Shackles (an international poetry anthology on the oppression and empowerment of women), New Verse News, Tuck, Literary Mama, Poets Reading the News, 3Elements Review, Rise Up Review, and Writers Resist. Her poetry won the James E. Tobin Award at Queens College and was selected as a finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. Deborah’s debut collection, Windows and a Looking Glass (Finishing Line Press, 2017) was a finalist for the 2016 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. You can visit the author at:www.deborahkahan

A Poem by Patricia Carragon

Alhambra’s Lion Courtyard

 

A class trip to the Hispanic Museum added stimulus to her imagination—
lace mantillas, rose-draped balconies, and the lion courtyard.

On display, a replica of Granada’s Alhambra—
red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.

A child with unruly ash-colored hair had a secret world
of wandering through gardens and the lion courtyard.

She’d wear a white lace mantilla over black tresses—
perfume would surround her in the lion courtyard.

The love for beauty needed to be remembered inside a box of stationery—
glimpses of red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.

But her souvenir narrowed her mother’s pupils—
her mother had no appreciation for Alhambra’s lion courtyard.

The child wasted her allowance—the child withdrew within herself,
burning the red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.

Years later, she tossed out her capricious purchase—
She downsized her interests—no longer needing that lion courtyard.

This poem was first published in First Literary Review-East, May 2016.

Patricia Carragon’s recent publications include Bear Creek Haiku, Sensitive Skin, and Sensations Magazine among others. Her latest book is Innocence (Finishing Line Press, 2017). The Cupcake Chronicles is forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada. Patricia hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She is an active member of brevitas, as well as the PEN Women’s Literary Workshop, Women Writers in Bloom, and Tamarind. She is an executive editor for Home Planet News Online.

Innocence (Finishing Line Press, 2017) is available https://www.amazon.com/Innocence-Patricia-Carragon/dp/1635341523

A Poem by Rachael Ikins

A Bowl of Berries

 

I step barefoot out of steam dreams
early morning, three note celebration
robin on the roof, cardinal voices chiding
their fledglings, sparrow chatter and
a lone seagull swooping
through, sounds like a cat or
a lost child.

Scents of July lilies and milkweed fill the air.
Green everywhere. Blackcap vines’
curlicue tangles at the foot of walnut trunk,
glossy red and purpling fruits beg
my fingers, my lips,
turn purple too.

Small moths fuss among grass stems. Insects,
wings like lace flutter across the yard. Childhood
summers and a bowl of berries for
my grandfather’s birthday.

He was so easy to gift, berries and a fresh caught bass
fried in sweet butter, summer presents
a child could create.

 

 

 

 

 

Rachael Ikins is a 2016 Pushcart, 2013 CNY Book Award nominee, award winning poet/artist. Her artwork has appeared in one-woman and group exhibits in Syracuse galleries and from Hamilton to Albany and the NYS Fair and her writing in journals around the world. 7/17 she juried into SUM a show by PATF at Point of Contact Gallery, Syracuse. She has been featured poet/artist at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, Tyler Gallery SUNY Oswego 2017, Aaduna fundraiser 2017 Auburn, NY and at Palace Poetry, Syracuse NY. April 2018 she will feature at Word Revisited through the Cayuga Museum, Auburn, NY. Rachael founded and moderated Monday Night Poetry at Sushi Blues, feature & open mic, Hamilton NY.
She has published 6 chapbooks and a novel, covers by Rachael. The novel “Totems” (Log Cabin Books) is her first illustrated book. Clare Birdsongs Publishing will release her first full length poetry collection “Just Two Girls” 8/17.
Rachael is a member of NLAPW. She belongs to Associated Artists of CNY and other guilds. She lives on Star Lake in Foxfire with her dogs cats, and salt water fish tank filled with creatures that glow in the dark, many plants, books, and her garden.

A Poem by Laurel S. Peterson

THE MYTHOLOGY OF SEAWEED

 

The mermaid wants nothing
so much as to stretch her legs,
to step from her fishy tail,
and walk. But she is not equipped
for that freedom, her destiny chosen for her
by frightened sailors and drunken fishermen,
who tell tales about her out of school.

In the masses of seaweed reaching up
to the light from the sea floor,
those men myth-make women who can drag
them under, desire so engulfing
that drowning seems preferable to living with it.

Why should she, unfree as she is,
not take revenge on her makers,
as perhaps all women should,
as perhaps all men fear.
Instead, they clutch each other tightly,
sink into the weedy depths.

 
Laurel S. Peterson is an English professor at Norwalk Community College and her poetry has been published in many literary journals. She has two chapbooks, That’s the Way the Music Sounds (Finishing Line Press) and Talking to the Mirror (Last Automat Press). Her full length collection, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? (Futurecycle Press) was released in January 2017. She has also written a mystery novel, Shadow Notes, which is available through Barking Rain Press. She currently serves as the town of Norwalk, Connecticut’s poet laureate.
Visit http://www.laurelpeterson.com/

A Poem by Bruce W. Niedt

Mickey Mantle 1965

          (after “The Dance” by William Carlos Williams)

 

In John Dominis’ photo, “Mickey Mantle 1965”,
the great slugger, who has been struggling,
slouches slack-jawed toward the dugout,
another strikeout behind him, and his limp right wrist
has just flung his helmet, which hangs in the air
like a lopsided Frisbee, while the blond hairs
on his right forearm catch the afternoon light,
and maybe bad knees or the bottle have taken their toll,
but there is still something defiant about him,
as Clete Boyer waits on deck with two bats,
and the crowd is silent in the early summer haze,
in John Dominis’ photo, “Mickey Mantle 1965”.

 

 

This poem is from the chapbook Hits and Sacrifices, published by Finishing Line Press.

Bruce W. Niedt is a retired civil servant whose poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest, Rattle, Tiferet, the Lyric, Spitball, US 1 Worksheets, and the anthologies Best of the Barefoot Muse and Poem Your Heart Out. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His latest chapbook, Hits and Sacrifices, is his second for Finshing Line Press.

 

 

Hits and Sacrifices is available from Finishing Line Press: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/hits-and-sacrifices-by-bruce-niedt-2/

Spend some time with Bruce Niedt’s baseball poems. Get to know ’em, pick out your favorites. They’ll become as familiar and comforting as the players in that big league lineup from your youth that still shows up in your dreams.

Mike Shannon, Editor, Spitball Magazine

 

As the first poem in this collection observes, every spring brings with it another receding hairline of snow beckoning us to take our seats in the bleachers. Bruce Niedt fields his team with a cast of characters that encompasses everyone from the steely-eyed closer to the guy hawking ice cream in the stands. Niedt is adept at adapting poetic forms to crystallize every aspect of the game, from the home team slump to the pitch that killed. He weaves the lore, superstitions, and drama of baseball into a big win for those who love the game.

Tammy Paolino, Poet and Journalist

 

Bruce W. Niedt’s new poetry collection, Hits and Sacrifices, is the next best thing to a live ballgame. As the signal between a pitcher and catcher transmutes to the glance between a guy and girl on the subway home; as an interned Japanese-American boy almost hits “a homer over the barbed wire fence”; as the August moon hangs like “a giant fly ball moving/on an imperceptible upward arc into the evening”- Niedt shows us that to know baseball is to know America. With humor, tenderness, and vivid imagery, Niedt brings us home to the diamond that democratizes us, all – from his groundskeeper, vendors, and fans to Mickey Mantle and Walt Whitman. His legends – of magic mud, the ball that never comes down, the bird clipped midair by a fastball – will surprise, touch, and enchant baseball fans, poetry lovers, and the newly initiated, alike. To borrow Bruce Niedt’s words about a hibernating ballpark: “Everything here echoes.”

Susanna Rich, Emmy-nominated poet for Craig Lindvahl’s Cobb Field: A Day at the Ballpark

A poem by Julene Tripp Weaver

The Sarcoma Scourge

 

There were whispers, “Mediterranean,

​​rare​ regional

​only old men get it.”

 

Karposi Sarcoma made marks

on gay men’s skin

tagged their torsos, branded their legs

made their face a target like wearing a

pink triangle

​a damn holocaust inside our bodies

 

disco getting a bad rap

poppers feared

 

my friend freaked when she heard

a lesbian got the virus.

 

Conspiracy theories leaked

from party balloons after hours

 

night clubs dying

friends calling in a panic

each new rash or bump

 

end of life predictions

angels came out from closets to

Act Up meetings, our new

Community, we had to have a say.

 

Keith Herring, known for his art,

died. It was 1990 with so many

losses, AZT equaled death

 

and our government officials

refused to say AIDS.

This filibuster infection activated us

 

to make noise, create buyers clubs.

We drank blood from organic liver

in an alley from a cooler

 

anything, to save our lives.

 

 

 

 

This poem first appeared in Truth Be Bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS (Finishing Line Press.)

 

Julene Tripp Weaver is a psychotherapist and a writer; she worked in AIDS services for over 21 years. Her third poetry book, Truth Be Bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS, was published this spring by Finishing Line Press. Two prior books are No Father Can Save Her, and Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails Her Blues. She is widely published in journals and anthologies. Her poems can be found online at: Anti-Heroin Chic, Riverbabble, River & South Review, The Seattle Review of Books, HIV Here & Now, and a creative nonfiction piece is published by Yellow Chair Press, In The Words of Women International 2016 Anthology. Find more of her writing at http://www.julenetrippweaver.com.

Out this spring from Finishing Line Press:  truth be bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS
No Father Can Save Her, Plain View Press
Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails Her Blues, Finishing Line Press
Available on Amazon.

Two Poems by Joan Hanna

I Was Born Blue

 

pushing through a membrane

of ether slithering

through my blood by way

of a clamped and cut

umbilical connection, leaving me

gasping until my lungs

expanded on their own.

When I caught my first breath,

I had already, finally,

broken from her. But every new

inhalation was a false start.

I cannot extract her from myself

with mere breath as this

unrepentant bloodline

leads me only to my mother dying

with so much left undone.

With each breath, I cut

unsigned agreements but her

disapproval sutures my guilt

to the bloodline oozing

from my pores. My life has become

a fractured mirror dance

turning me again and again

to her face, sullen like mine. Her hands,

swollen like mine. Her eyes: mine.

 








Dragonflies

 

They said dragonflies

sew up little girl’s

mouths if they talk

too much.

I pressed

my teeth into my lips

until I could feel

blood pumping

like a stubborn

heartbeat.

They laughed

saying, you’re so stupid

I understood what they

really meant, but

wouldn’t open my mouth

until it flew away.

This—

was the first stitch.

 

 

 



Joan Hanna
has published poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, book reviews and essays in various online and print journals. Hanna’s first poetry chapbook, Threads, was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Both Threads and her second chapbook, The Miracle of Mercury, are available through Finishing Line Press. Hanna has previously served as Assistant Managing Editor for River Teeth, Assistant Editor, Nonfiction/Poetry for rkvry Quarterly Literary Journal, Managing Editor for Poets’ Quarterly and Senior Editor at Glassworks. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Ashland University in Ohio and teaches creative writing at Rowan University in New Jersey. You can follow her personal blog at Writing Through Quicksand: http://www.writingthroughquicksand.blogspot.com

The Miracle of Mercury is available at amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/MIRACLE-MERCURY-Joan-Hanna/dp/1944251375

Joan Hanna’s fidelity to the subjects of her poems—her ability to portray, in high resolution and with evocative power, the people and places that make up a passionate and compassionate life—is matched only by her talent for spinning lines and sentences that are always surprising, always sparkling with feeling and wit. Braiding the woof of personal experience to the warp of American public life, Hanna’s Threads offers a vivacious and enduring weave.

Peter Campion is Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota and author of Other People and The Lions.

Joan Hanna’s Threads weaves a tapestry of the everyday world and its rites of passages that each of us must pass through. But hers is a tapestry of deception, each thread made up of vivid images that resonate with Pound’s “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time,” and belie the ordinary with the perceptive and the careful heart.

Kathryn Winograd is the author of Air into Breath and Stepping Sideways Into Poetry.


Threads
is available at:   https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/threads-by-joan-hanna/