A Poem by Jim Bourey

Setting the Price

 

In high-summer evening-light four barefoot Amish

kids bend, pulling weeds from their garden.

My mother looks at them from the car window, smiles

at the young woman on the porch who holds a baby close.

 

I lean on my car and talk to the man of the house.

I want him to build our garage. He notices Mother,

walks to her open window. She pulls back in her seat,

afraid. He speaks softly to her, calls his children,

 

lifts each one; introduces–

Sarah,

Esther

Malachi

and Ruth.

He calls his wife. She comes, and her husband says–

 

This is Johanna and our new son David

 

Mother reaches out, strokes the infant’s silken

skin. She hasn’t said a word in months.

 

Baby. Baby. soft, yet clear.

 

The father and I set a price.

 

As we leave, Mother raises her hand and waves.

Soon the family will be inside praying,

turning down kerosene lamps,

quenching candles.

 

 

 

Jim Bourey is an old poet now living on the northern edge of the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. He lived in Delaware for thirty years before this recent move. His chapbook Silence, Interrupted was published in 2015 by the Broadkill River Press, and it was selected as best book of poetry by the Delaware Press Association, and also received third place in the same category from the National Association of Press Women. His work has appeared in Gargoyle, Broadkill Review, Double Dealer and other journals and anthologies. He was first runner up in the Faulkner-Wisdom Poetry Competition in 2012 and 2016. Jim is active in promoting poetry at readings and events throughout his home area. In Delaware, he belonged to two poetry groups and was a state adjudicator for the Poetry Out Loud competition for two years. He is currently working on a collection of poems about people and places of the North Country.

A Poem by Kevin J. McDaniel

Oil Change

 

Cars swarmed archways

of the station where

the receptionist instructed

I pull beside the Nissan,

which I translated to mean

the big silver slug parked

behind the tiny blue,

 

before handing me

a folded paper

with a number stamped

in the corner,

so I could take my seat

in the congested waiting area

 

alongside

a college kid working a Rubik’s Cube

and a pregnant woman,

in green tank-top

and Daisy Dukes, bending over

to tell her toddler

be patient and wait

while the rest of us pretended

to be engrossed with Olympians jogging laps

on the mounted big screen.

 

Early that morning,

each driver drafted a shrewd plot

to avoid the rush,

but fate

put us in this purgatory

to learn

from mechanics

whose diagnostics showed

we had more problems than a routine

oil change could fix

on a Friday.

 

 

 

 

Kevin J. McDaniel lives in Pulaski, Virginia, with his wife, two daughters, and two old chocolate Labs. To date, his work has appeared, or forthcoming, in Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium, Artemis Journal, Broad River Review, Clinch Mountain Review, Common Ground Review, Floyd County Moonshine, Freshwater Literary Journal, GFT Press, Gravel, JuxtaProse, The Cape Rock, The Main Street Rag, and others. His recent chapbook, Family Talks, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017.

A Poem by Luisa A. Igloria

Notes Toward a History of Coaxial Cable

 

dates back to the early 1880s, that heady time

of invention when sound and light and other

 

elements were yoked to service for precise

transmission of our varied signals— So much

that now is easy to take for granted: the trucker

 

with the ham radio, the soldier clipping a walkie-

talkie to his belt, the technician who slicks warm

gel over my belly then slides a wand to render

 

the moon-surfaces of my organs via ultrasound—

The inner conductor is surrounded by a tubular

insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular

 

conducting shield, and both share a geometric

axis: which is to say, the signal looks for the path

that’s clearest or rendered most safe from possible

 

interruption; which is to say, the distance

between the thing and its intended object becomes

more unbearable with each new iteration of time

 

and space. Why do you think the inventor

of the telephone sought a way to funnel the absent

one’s voice into his ear? We speak into our

 

devices, our tapping fingers send the messages

our naked eyes and bodies alone can’t throw

across the ether. Think of how any of such

 

wonders began: as string on a lover’s telephone

spliced from two diaphragms, two cans of beans

emptied and cleaned, their ends punched to guide

 

the string or wire. And other amazements!

—those early days when ice did not even pour

out of spouts on refrigerator doors or trays

 

from the freezer, but travelled whole like scaled-

down glaciers on pallets of straw for months

in the dark holds of ships, across the world— to arrive

 

in a tropical country so the cook could put good butter

and milk and eggs into a cake, and write with sugar

a message on top: To love, To fortune, To the future!

 

 

 

 

Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of the chapbooks Haori (Tea & Tattered Pages Press, 2017), Check & Balance (Moria Press/Locofo Chaps, 2017), and Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015); plus the full length works Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015.

Author photo: Lisa Zader

A Poem by Drew Pisarra

Shoe Convention

 

There’s a crowd of me under my bed. By which I mean to say

that all my shoes have lined up  as if called for some secret

meeting about yours truly. I see them! Oh yes, they stand

in pairs — how else? — mostly brown, neatly placed, so far

back I cannot see where my ankles should be.  I can’t see

me. Some shoes point at each other. One stands

unattached, unmatched yet assuredly so.  All of them:

Size 9. They have gathered to talk or retread (haha)

the many places  I’ve faltered and failed.

 

I can break up this pedal congress though. I can reach

down and blindly pull out a boot my father bought me

at DSW in 2012. There’s something Russian about it,

this boot with its pre-weathered leather stitched

together in workmanlike rows. Alone, separated

from the group, this boot looks defiantly casual —

its laces loose, unconcerned. Its tongue curled back,

reluctant  to speak… I put the boot back . I turn back

to other things. Like words. Like words that shine.

 

Tomorrow I’m throwing that shoe and its match out.

They don’t know it but nothing is safe here, nothing.

Nothing will walk away from this defeat or despair,

last of all that damn pair. Not on my watch, they won’t.

 

 

 

 

Drew Pisarra worked in the digital sphere on behalf of “Mad Men,” “Rectify” and “Breaking Bad” but now writes plays, fiction, and poetry. His work has been produced off-off-Broadway and appeared in Poydras Review, Thin Air, and St. Petersburg Review among other publications. His collection of short stories, Publick Spanking, was published by Future Tense.

A Poem by Wren Tuatha

Tupelo Coyote

 

We were tracing Jack’s Creek

where the woods abducts it from the rolling

hills of dairy cows and tobacco.

I on the asphalt, you behind the tupelos.

 

You stalked me like a fan

afraid to ask for my autograph.

Those alien eyes,

calculating,

measuring my marrow

bend after turn, always

thirty paces aside.

 

Now you trot out in the farmlands,

legs like tobacco sticks, mapping the median line.

I am roadside, reading.

You are storybook real.

I speak to you, familiar,

as if you are the family dog.

Your answer is a glare-beam

that rips me, rights me.

 

You put me in the landscape,

that’s all.

 

 

 

First published in Canary, A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis.

 

 

Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Poetry Pacific, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review and Bangalore Review. She’s an editor at Califragile and PoetryCircle. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

A Poem by Jamie Lynn Heller

An Entire Life

 

There’s nothing like

 

going through Great Aunt Priscilla’s house

after hospice has removed its equipment

and you’ve donated the wheel chair,

found the walker, flushed the pills,

debated what to do with an opened package

of adult diapers and her prosthetic breasts,

opened the blinds and windows to let in light and air,

found her old set of dentures,

her package of hearing aid batteries,

her crazy beaded chain attached to her reading glasses,

 

and

 

discovering a

lacy red nightgown,

stuffed in the back of a drawer,

in a style a couple of decades old,

a couple of sizes too small,

 

to remind you of

her life

before

 

 

 

“An Entire Life” first appeared in Kansas City Voices: A Periodical of Writing and Art.

 

 

 

Jamie Lynn Heller uses poetry as her caffeine.  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (Little Balkans Review 2014) and Best of the Net nominee (805 Lit + Art 2016). Her chapbook Domesticated was published in 2015 (Finishing Line Press). She received honorable mention awards in Whispering Prairie Press Writing Contest 2012, and Kansas Voices Contest 2017, 2011. For a complete list of publications see jamielynnheller.blogspot.com.

A Poem by Vincent Francone

Mud

 

Last night we painted our faces

with mud

to tighten the skin and remove dirt from pores.

We sat the required ten minutes

you with the dog

me with a drink

then washed our faces, looked over the results:

My god, the years are erased!

We never met, we never ate pizza, drank wine

in Lisbon,

ate oysters in Mexico and in New Orleans

before beignets,

got lost on our bicycles, played rummy in a bus station,

played hooky from work,

caught a midday movie, snuck into another,

walked San Francisco,

walked the

Champs-Élysées,

cried for days on end, got caught in the rain,

overslept and lied our way out of obligation,

watched so much TV we fell back asleep

and forgot to feed the cat,

ate take out food, made a snack at 2:00 AM

got drunk in the afternoon

you on wine

me on scotch

and walked until we sweat alcohol;

we never burned food because we forgot

it was cooking

or wasted all our money or gave away our clothes

or watched your nephew grow up

or drove through Chicago for hours

because

we couldn’t stand the apartment,

and we never kissed, laughed, never teased each other,

you never told me I steal the covers,

we never said the three words

much less the two,

we never broke a promise or bought flowers

or wrote poems or replaced the shabby coats

and shoes; we never tolerated the other’s

bad breath or prostrated at the feet

of our odd bodies, we never

subsisited off peanut butter sandwiches

and fretted over back accounts

or asked the other to read an email

before we sent it, or to borrow

money until payday

or trust each other

with each other.

None of it! We got the years back.

Lucky us.

 

 

“Mud” first appeared in The Penn Review.

 

 

 

Vincent Francone is a writer from Chicago whose memoir, Like a Dog, was published in the fall of 2015. He won first place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition (Gwendolyn Brooks Award) and is at work on a collection of poems and stories. Visit www.vincentfrancone.com to read his work or say hi.

A Poem by Bryan D. Dietrich

THE RIFT

July 2011, Kennedy Space Center

 

Our final craft arises from one blue

and sinks into another we call true.

Deep calls unto deep, the Psalmist states,

suggesting that our blood is like the straits

we nod beside when sounding out our souls

from here, the edge of space, these restless shoals

where ships have launched toward the blackest sea,

where mothers, husbands, wives upon this lea

have watched the ones they love let go of Earth,

trajected into something too like birth,

that airless ocean where we once accreted

from waves of dust and absence, superheated,

molded, brought to being out of flood,

like Love herself from salt and foam and blood.

 

We’ve shuttled past this garden, spent our spoor

outward, always outward, always more

to fight that feeling that we may be less,

to find a balm for Gilead’s unrest.

We do not want to be here in the dark,

alone, without the hope of other ark.

We sow the upper air with lenses, mirrors,

reflecting on our existential terrors.

No, this is not the first, the last Atlantis.

We stand upon the strand like Marinatos

who stumbled on the ruins of that city.

Plato wrote about it, wrote with pity.

He also wrote of love, its rift, its scars,

of all we seek when we seek out the stars.

 

 

 

 

Bryan D. Dietrich is the author of six books of poems and co-editor of a recent poetry anthology.  He has published poems in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Paris Review, Harvard Review, Yale Review, and many other journals. He has won The Paris Review Prize, a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, a Writers at Work Fellowship, and others.

A Poem by Theresa Hamman

Driving the Desert with Zep

 

We were bees once, in May

before the lilac blooms blew

away, before we were itchy,

always scratching and eating

prickly pears while our skin peeled

and twisted inside out.  We kissed

 

before our chapped lips cracked

from all that thirsty August heat,

before we rolled naked into cactus

water and wrapped ourselves in snake

skin, before we laughed

 

while the yellow desert ate us,

and its hornet’s nest erupted

into “Kashmir” and all that floating

dust, all those lilting tongues—

 

found us.

 

Do you remember?

 

We knew how to buzz once,

how to light up

before we became dead jackets,

before we became sulfured honey.

 

 

 

 

Theresa Hamman is a poet from La Grande, OR. Her poems can be found in the following literary journals and magazines: Red Savina Review, The Tower Journal, Oregon East, basalt, and Nailed. She also teaches undergraduate composition and creative writing courses at Eastern Oregon University and Southern New Hampshire University. She earned her MFA in 2016 from Eastern Oregon University, where she was also the editor of the student literary journal Oregon East. Although she enjoys writing in all creative genres, her first love is poetry. She gets lost in the musicality of it and how it bends language to create new objects.

Theresa is the mother of two grown daughters and adoring grandma to two grandchildren. When not writing, she enjoys reading, teaching, the occasional Netflix binge, and spending time with her family.

A Poem by Rosalie Sanara Petrouske

Burnt

 

Everything withered, the pear flowers

shriveled like onion leaves.

The grass beneath my bare heels

crackles as if I were stepping

on sheaves of dried corn.

My prize lily, blooming madly in June,

when the fireflies dipped

into its abundant petals

has wilted to a few crumpled leaves,

an emaciated stalk.

Rain, rain,

the blue jay screeches.

Rain whispers

the willow,

even the river is too low

to paddle.

I am grateful for the moths

thumping at the midnight pane,

for the night-flying bat.

I almost hear the earth

absorbing darkness,

the distant whistle as the train

clatters over the bridge,

trusses creaking and swaying

beneath its weight.

No breath of wind stirs a leaf.

Dry, so dry,

my mouth

thirsts for a drink,

my lips

hurt,

sore and waiting

for the kiss of water,

and my heart beats

fast and hard.

I feel it sear

with all the longing,

all the want

of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

Rosalie Sanara Petrouske received her M.A. in English and Writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.  She is an Adjunct Professor in the English Department at Lansing Community College, where she currently teaches Freshman Composition and Creative writing classes.  Finishing Line Press published her second book of poems What We Keep in 2016.  She wrote the poem “Burnt” about an unusual long and hot Michigan summer, but it’s also about want, and about the things you might want, and never have.