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.

A Poem by Seth Jani

The Cottage Rows

 

 

The trees are just themselves,

Green and decisive,

And they have absolutely

Nothing to say.

The child walks beneath them

Following the line of shadows

With his hand.

No one can explain to him

How the trees change colors

Without being angry or sad,

How sap circulates through their bodies

And is transmuted into delicate

Drops of gold.

Those lush sentinels

Devoid of any ego or “I”

Are all it takes

To strike the heart with silence.

How then to tell him

That such miracles

Simply happen?

That the apples

Filling with sweetness

Are a plain and living truth?

 

 

Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His own work has been published widely in such places as The Chiron ReviewPretty Owl PoetryEl Portal, Phantom DriftCommon Ground Review,The Hamilton Stone Review, Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal  and Gravel.

His chapbook, In The House Magisterial, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. Visit him at www.sethjani.com.

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 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.

Two Poems by Claudine Nash

You Might Have Saved a Life

 

 

You might have saved a life tonight.

 

On impulse,

you might have looked

a faintly-known stranger

straight in the eyes

and caught sight of a life

waiting to ignite.

 

You might have reached in

and kindled it,

 

breathed wind

into this heat that burns

without flame,

 

flicked a spark

into a field of dry grass

and yelled “Live!”

or “Fire!” or “There is a gift

in these ashes that needs

to be scattered.”

 

Tomorrow your stranger might

awaken alert and recalled,

 

they might set their Wild

Fire free and watch it spread

from sleeper to sleeper

until the world

 

shakes itself alive

and the murky sky starts

glowing.

 

You might have saved a life tonight.

You might have saved us all.

 

 

Previously published in Sick Lit Magazine

 

 

 

Certain Words

 

 

There are certain words you

would wait a lifetime to hear.

Like, “you didn’t ruin a

thing,” or “the ground between

us never turned to dust.”

 

Better still, “look, here’s a

stack of old envelopes

made out to you” and upon

inspecting their odd postmarks

and stamps, feel love leak

from their folds or read

 

scribbled between the lines

of the onionskin sheets within,

the explanation you’ve always

wanted interwoven with

the phrase “You were only

briefly forgotten.”

 

But mostly, you would

forfeit the scent of oncoming

rain or abandon the sight of

the swollen red moon just

to be told  “Please listen now,

there’s something I’m ready

to say.”

 

 

Previously published in The Problem with Loving Ghosts (Finishing Line Press, 2014)

 

 

 

Claudine Nash is an award-winning poet whose collections include her full length books The Wild Essential (Aldrich Press, forthcoming) and Parts per Trillion (Aldrich Press, 2016) as well as the chapbook The Problem with Loving Ghosts (Finishing Line Press, 2014). She also co-edited the book In So Many Words: A Collection of Interviews and Poetry from Today’s Poets (Madness Muse Press, 2016). Internationally published, her poetry has received Pushcart Prize nominations and has appeared in a wide range of publications including Asimov’s Science Fiction, BlazeVOX, Cloudbank, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Foliate Oak and Dime Show Review amongst others. She is also a practicing psychologist. www.claudinenashpoetry.com.