A Poem by Heather Corbally Bryant

The Easterly

           For CH

 

 

The easterly, you say, will be coming in today,

This afternoon—I like the way you say easterly

With such certainty—the way you know the

 

Tides—when they will rise and when they will

Fall—when they will come in and when they will

Go out—but it is the way you say easterly that

 

Touches me—the way you know this land, this

Sea, this shore with complete certainty—the

Currents of water are etched in your mind,

 

Time after time—the sands, the winds, the rain—

The moons, the dredges, the shipwrecks, the

Ocean lives in your mind for all time—today,

 

As we cross sandy cove you look seawards and

Say yes, yes, the easterly will be coming in today.

 

 

Heather Corbally Bryant (formerly Heather Bryant Jordan) teaches in the Writing Program at Wellesley College. She received her A.B. from Harvard, and her PhD from the University of Michigan. She has given academic papers and poetry readings in Ireland throughout the United States.

She published How Will the Heart Endure: Elizabeth Bowen and the Landscape of War,” (University of Michigan Press, 1992). She also has six books of poetry either published or forthcoming: Cheap Grace, The Finishing Line Press, (2011); Lottery Ticket, The Parallel Press Poetry Series of the University of Wisconsin Libraries (2013); Compass Rose, The Finishing Line Press (2016). My Wedding Dress, her first full-length volume of poetry was published in 2017, and Thunderstorm, her second full-length volume, was published from The Finishing Line Press in 2017; later in 2017, The Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Eve’s Lament. Her work of creative non-fiction, You Can’t Wrap Fire in Paper, will be published in early 2018, as well as her new forward to the reissue of her grandmother’s autobiography, Assigned to Adventure, originally published in 1938.

A Poem by Davidson Garrett

Freudian Slipcover

 

 

Have you heard the barker of Seville?

Canine basso roughing up Rossini

under limbs of fragrant orange trees

swaying to minor keys of rhythmic traffic.

 

No great Figaro: but figure why

a loose ended howler huddled on all fours?

 

Could it be Mama, Papa, Aunt Rosina

conducting his outrageous bow-wows

from an excavated orchestra pit

inside the psychic cavern of a lost mind?

 

They say fast roulades are best sung

after rigorous hours of arpeggio practice.

Or is it in the lungs, these embellishments

of exploding notes on familial themes?

 

You know the tune, “Largo al factorum.”

Ruff-ruff-ruff-ruff—instead of tra-la-la-la.

 

Each day around noon, bark with him,

the aria of the disillusioned dog.

Afterward, hot bones will be sold—

with or without relish

 

 

 

Davidson Garrett is a poet, actor, and yellow taxi driver in New York City. A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, he is the author of the poetry collection, King Lear of the Taxi, published by Advent Purple Press, and three chapbooks, To Tell The Truth I Wanted to be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems, published by Finishing Line Press, and Southern Low Protestant Departure: A Funeral Poem, and What Happened to The Man Who Taught Me Beowulf and Other Poems, published by Advent Purple Press.  In September 2017, his spoken word play, Conspiracy Theory: The Mysterious Death of Dorothy Kilgallen was performed at the Boog City Poet Theater Festival in New York’s East Village.

A Poem by Keith Moul

ROMANCE FADES

 

 

A Canadian Pacific train today rolls by

With protracted sounds that grind steel

On steel; these echo hello as soon goodbye.

 

These are not sounds I recall from childhood;

These sounds clarify political intentions, as

Tomorrow this train, full now, goes north empty.

 

In my town today, railroads’ romance has ended;

The whistle breathes its oath through local hills

Of grim necessity: the wheels roll out, you know,

And if only for the track, the wheels must roll back.

 

Antipathy seethes at local bars.

At home, paint peels in life-giving sun;

Paint fails its warranty.

Fruit rapidly browns too much to eat.

 

Love the idea of railroads to create towns,

To link across this broad America, here

Where the whistle wails its ironies.

Workers have dug graves along the routes.

 

 

 

 

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 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 Autumn Meier

This One Should Rhyme

 

 

They say the universe was once so close

That the space between atoms was erased

And the true meaning of intimacy arose

As the first particles united, unchaste

 

Time, matter, and energy combined

As the knotted thread of life began

And in a story oddly predesigned

I think you were there, holding my hand

 

The explosion saw the dust of stars

Scatter through the vast landscape of space

And like the puff of slow cigars

The scene evolved like gently-worked lace

 

Our atoms were lost in the cosmic dance

But for billions of years the search never ceased

I knew we would once again meet by chance

And the heaviness of time would be released

 

Then—in a little coffee shop, on the outskirts of Kyiv,

I understood why, all these years, I’d believed.

 

 

 

 

Autumn Meier‘s work can be found in Straight-Up Magazine and Carcinogenic Poetry. She lives in Waxahachie, Texas with her husband and 438 books.

A Poem by Devi S. Laskar

Instructions for Driving at Night

                                                             After Tarfia Faizullah

 

He pulled me over. Third time this week. First time

at night. His sirens screamed red. The sky a ripe

melon. The sky a girl on the street driving

 

into the open mouth of dark. He swatted

my face with his baton. He swatted my lips

with the butt end of his flashlight. He wielded

 

the baton like a finger to touch my breasts.

He used his flashlight to get a better look.

His car was full. His colleagues joined in. I fell

 

against the parking brake, the car rolled forward.

I fell and he used his baton. I remember

I love marionettes. I love how a string

 

is pulled and its puppet jerks to life. I did

not apologize to him for making him

pull me over. The girls on their hot pink bikes

 

and matching helmets cycled faster past us.

Girls breaking away from our bloodletting. Girls

tossing their bikes onto grass behind the white

 

picket fence, and running inside. I fell when

he pulled me out of the car. I was too dark

for them to rape me. He thought my skin was a

 

contagion. His friends joined in, rendered my

body fruit salad. My face cherry compote.

My pomegranate heart exploded open.

 

I kept watch for Hades and Persephone.

After a while I closed my eyes. I saw stars

being born, the big bang that comes before light

 

travels. I knew not to speak. I knew not to

cry. I knew it would get worse. But I cried out.

I cried out for my mother, hundreds of miles

 

away. I cried for hundreds of mothers, ones

on the other side of those picket fences.

I cried for my friends but I could no longer

 

remember their names. I cried though all I could

see were their faces, milky outlines, makings

of constellations. Stars already dead but

 

still shining holy, night after night. Flashlights

moving the traffic along, his breath a spray

of petrol before the fire starts and looting

 

begins. He wished aloud for my death. Someone

called an ambulance so I lived to hear

on the six o’clock news that I was a slut

 

with a car, resisting arrest, deserving

the prizes I received from his giving arms.

My mother did not cry but asked if I had

 

apologized, kept my head down low, staring

at the mat under my sandaled feet. I said

no and through her sudden tears, she smiled.

 

 

 

Devi S. Laskar is a native of Chapel Hill, N.C. She holds an MFA from Columbia University in New York. A former newspaper reporter, she is now a poet, photographer and artist. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlanta Review, Fairy Tale Review, Noyo River Review and The Raleigh Review, which nominated her for Best New Poets 2016. She is an alumna of both TheOpEdProject and VONA/Voices, and poetry workshops at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Finishing Line Press published the first of two poetry chapbooks, Gas & Food, No Lodging in March 2017, and Anastasia Maps in December 2017. She now lives in California.

Two Poems by Robert Knox

The Leaf Washers

“The plants eat light.” From Michael Pollan’s “How Smart are Plants?” in the New Yorker

 

Yesterday we washed the leaves

Today they salute us

Reaching out, waving their storybook lives

Like the pages of a book

Fluttering long fingers

Beckoning, or speaking the gesture language

Heavier creatures invent upon their fingers

They pulse their high wire stories through the air waves

 

The leaves live in the air, the air is home, shelter, food for them

The current of breath that fills my senses

Orders time for the dance of the hours

The leaves make time for us, filtering the world

The minutes emerge from pores and make sense for us,

Slow as the waves of the world

They save the voices of the children

They lie still before the whine of the engines

To still them is to deafen the magic

They droop like ears silenced by the humdrum of machines

They turn the salutes of the hours into triumphs of air

They sluice and filter the music of the world

They are the companionate senses of the wild green earth,

A bowering neighbor,

A grotto of tuned and tasted pleasure, pre-digested by fertility,

A porous protection, a second self

They guide the sun to my temple

I am—we are—within the village of the world,

Inside temples among the jungled cities

The leaves salute our fellow travelers in their journeys through the sky

As friends, superiors in life, elders, survivors of earlier days

They know where they situate is all the world

They mediate the base of things, the fundamentals,

Molecules, waves, atoms, energy-matter—the rain in Piccadilly,

The fountains of Beirut, the voices of the stars

 

 

 

As A Tree

 

 

Tannish tassels smudging the plants,

bedecking leaves like off-color tinsel,

a plague of dust tarnishing the green.

Mannish flowers these, gifts of the oak,

a thing made all of secrets.

You never see it sleep, or shout, or breathe, or blow, or natter

or rumble, or do anything.

The wind “does.” The birds leap and shout.

Leaves appear. Branches fall.

Catkins parachute softly in the spring,

a daring raid behind enemy lines; success assured by numbers.

The oak is ever that which is, not that which shows

in its becoming.

It is always being a tree.

Surely we all have heard this moralized explanation of “giving”—

these theatrically magical seeds

these time-lapse photographs of “stages”:

the seedling with the corny hat, a sproutling, a slender sapling (like a boy with a bat),

branches that shoot outward like crosses

held against the terrors of a world of fire, seething winds, clinging ice,

quaking thunder, shaking earth.

Time passes through the tree.

It perseveres in thereness, wise in the way of treeing.

We encounter, witness, regard, visit,

become what we will, in our endless evolutions.

The oak always was what it will be

whenever I behold it:  then is now.

 

 

 

 

Robert Knox is a Boston Globe correspondent, a poet and fiction writer, and the author of a recently published novel based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Suosso’s Lane. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal, Verse-Virtual, his poems appear regularly on that site. They have also appeared in Every Day Poet, Off The Coast, Houseboat, Yellow Chair Review and other journals. His chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty (Finishing Line Press) was published in May 2017.

A Poem by Richard King Perkins II

An Astounding Perimeter

 

It’s not a dream

but a slightly bygone world

covered in frozen mist.

 

Sparrows alight on the small shoreline

of an astounding perimeter—

a sanctum whispering in white.

 

I study the icebound bracken and reeds,

gazing past the embankment

to this vacancy of snow where your car once slept.

 

In the old meeting place, I still look for you—

where our conversations spilled upon gentle light;

simple confessions of twigs and soul.

 

But we’re left with only a few desperate sentences;

having spoken of things to deny or embrace,

the evergreen ghosts of our endless north country.

 

Now you’re stranded on a bridge in St. Louis

with no money and no credit cards

and your passenger side window broken out.

 

I’m in the bristling pines laced ivory

where someone once wrote a song about you;

how your eyes extinguished sensibility,

how your eyes painted light into every corner of darkness.

 

Can you recall how desperately we believed

that the return of robins and sharp shadows

could change everything;

that crocuses would ignite life in themselves?

 

 

 

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 a thousand publications.