A Poem by Randall Brown

Debt

 

         I sit the kids in the family room, start talking about the 1979 Pirates, how they’d won a championship with this song “We are Family” by Sister Sledge. I tell Rachel I don’t know what a sledge is; I tell Noah I’m getting to the point.
         I say I’m trying to tell them how their grandmother wanted a Cosmopolitan magazine; the final game of the series was on; there weren’t DVDs or ways to see it again. She told me I had to bike to the Pensupreme to get this magazine. She wouldn’t let up, ended up trying to drag me up the stairs by my hair.
         You want us to hate her, Noah says. Rachel wants to know if I got her the magazine. Yes, I tell her. But it was the wrong month, one she already had.
         And? Noah asks.
         I went back, got her the right one.
         I would never do that, he says. That’s because you’re mean, Rachel says to him.
         I paid for it with paper route money, I tell them. And that’s why I can’t just give you the money for I-Tunes.
         Whatever, Noah says. He’ll clean his room, though, if it matters that much. And Rachel will fold laundry, maybe take the dinner dishes away.
         They’re both sorry they asked. Stargell would stand at the plate and swing that bat like a windmill and I didn’t have to get that magazine but I did. Why?
         I wanted the world to owe me something.

 

 

 

 

Randall Brown is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and he appears in the Best Small Fictions 2015 & 2017, The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction, and the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Microfiction. He founded and directs FlashFiction.Net and has been published and anthologized widely, both online and in print. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. He received his MFA from Vermont College.

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A Poem by Kevin Dobbs

Nothingness

 

 

In art history class

My late brother Sam placed

 

On the overhead a photo

He’d taken of a small shack

 

In the middle of Death Valley

On which somebody had

 

Painted in white the word “It.”

Sam, filled with young-man

 

Resolve, declared to the full hall

That he and only he

 

Had found “It.” Everyone applauded.

I, thirty years later and

 

Filled with fear and angst,

Declare to humankind

 

That I have found “nothingness.”

I know this. It’s not in my mind.

 

It’s here in Qatar just across

The Persian Gulf from Iran. Not that I

 

Dislike Iran as does my government

Which distrusts any ancient culture

 

Whose women do not readily play

With its soldiers. Thousands are

 

Stationed just down the road

From Al Ruwais—or what I call

 

Nothingness—where they await

An official change in policy.

 

Don’t confuse this searing

Surface mining town with Hell.

 

Al Ruwais has decent hummus

With flat bread and cucumbers, a few

 

Children, a Shisha bar, some palm trees,

Open-pit grinding and crushing machines,

 

Chutes and sifters. Awash with

Powdery-white sand and minerals, Al Ruwais

 

Is the explosion of a trillion bones:

Know that this is what it is

 

And you will know nothingness.

 

 

 

Kevin Dobbs has lived in the USA, Japan, China, the UAE, and Qatar. He’s published poetry, fiction, and essays, internationally, in literary journals and anthologies. With poetry forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry and recent poetry in Painted bride Quarterly and Interlitq (The International Literary Quarterly), he’s placed poems in Chelsea, New York Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Poet Lore, Sou’wester, Gulf Stream, Faces in the Crowds (anthology, Tokyo), New Delta Review, Maverick Magazine, The Journal (England), Writer’s Forum, Florida Review, etc. His fiction and essays have appeared in Raritan: a Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, Sou’wester, Beloit Fiction Journal, Bluestem (formerly Karamu), and many more. Besides writing, Kevin is a university professor and was involved for many years in labor and civil rights activities in Asia as well as NGO volunteer work. Currently, he lives in California, USA.

A Poem by Amy L. George

The Stopping Places

 

 

There’s a road on every tombstone.

 

A journey is traced

in a single dash

from when light enters eyes

to the moment it leaves.

 

The length of the trip

doesn’t matter as much

as the exits we take,

the shoulders we rest on,

the stars we gape at,

the hands we find to hold

at the stopping places.

 

It’s at the stopping places

where our breath catches in our throats

at scenic overlooks, as we inhale

the wildness of the world,

drink in sights and faces

in the warmth of the sun,

and sometimes,

clutch each other tightly,

as we are drenched in rain.

 

The road winds

onward,

stretching out before us.

 

Best travel light while we can.

 

 

 

Amy L. George holds an MFA in Creative Writing from National University. George is the author of The Stopping Places (forthcoming March 2018, Finishing Line Press), Desideratum (Finishing Line Press), and The Fragrance of Memory (Amsterdam Press). Her poetry has been published in various journals, such as Kyoto Journal, Pirene’s Fountain, Up the Staircase, and others. She teaches courses in fiction and poetry at Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

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 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 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.

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.