Grace has a bedroom that we admire. Lotions and potions and when Grace comes out of her bedroom she looks like one of those girls who is a majorette. We hate Grace because of her pink bedroom. Pink covers, pink chair and pink sheets. We hate pink. We hate Grace for her pink bedroom.
Grace is medium height like us, but we don’t have pink bedrooms. She has a good figure just like us, but we have a better ass.
Grace goes to school just like us. We ignore her, we hate her. She’s too pretty for us to like her. She gets good grades like us, but we are better at math than she is. We might become a mathematician or a chemical engineer. Who knows what we will become. One of us is related to Grace, which makes one of us dislike her intensely.
Grace takes pills. We don’t. We are free to dislike Grace. Maybe Grace is Anne? We don’t know. One of us asks her parents. They say her name is Grace Anne. We hate that name. We hate everything about Grace because she has a pink bedroom with lotions and potions.
We get married but Grace doesn’t get married. She has become a teacher at a private school. We go to the private school and mock Grace. The kids mock her too. She is now heavy and we are thin.
We are so thin our men can’t see us. We run and we bike, we walk so our bodies are thin. Grace doesn’t do anything but teach and eat. We hate Grace for teaching and eating.
When we get older, we lose track of Grace. We may be dead. Or married. Or single. Who knows? Grace Anne is our cousin. We hate our cousin. We hate Grace.
Sue Powers’ fictions have appeared in numerous publications, including Saturday Evening Post, New Millenniums Writings, Blue Earth Review, Micro Monday, R-KV-R-Y, Funny in Five Hundred, Blue Lake Magazine, Adanna Literary, Dying Dahlia Review, Off the Rocks, and others. The News was on stage at a Chicago Theater. She was a recipient of a fellowship and grant from the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and two of stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A book of her stories was published by Atmosphere Press.
can’t we see that,
escorted elected barbarians
in bed with morphine drips,
confused, hapless, wanderers
like brad pitt trying to explain
strike out to walk ratios,
mormon from utah ending
two year mission to watts
trying to explain the green
stain on her white denims
glass of catawba
at halftime then
too drunk to sing karaoke
in nantuckett harbor after
stepping out after midnight
with crazy mad childless women
six hours a night
in casino back bars
doing a glacial hip hop stomp
the heavy razor edges
a classic southern Sabbath softening
to melodic sounds of bluegrass
away the crush, the glory
forgotten, erased, and discarded by
blowhard blackheaded rascist twits
who will read nietzsche in prison
just metaphors of martyrdom well placed
on the tantric twitter or
the everyday falsetto of facebook
played like a banjo
at an ozark pig roast
Dan Jacoby is a graduate of Fenwick High School, St. Louis University, Chicago State University, and Governors State University. He has published poetry in the Arkansas Review, Bombay Gin, Burningword Literary Review, Canary, The Fourth River, Steel Toe Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and Red Fez to name a few. He is a former educator, steel worker, and counterintelligence agent.. He is a member of the Carlinville Writers Guild and American Academy of Poets . Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. Nominated for Best on the Net for Poetry in 2019 by Red Fez. His book, Blue Jeaned Buddhists, Duck Lake Books, is available where fine books are sold.
Like the Mississippi River where the Rock River cuts the Rock Island Arsenal bridge in three. Like heavy clouds in that evening period when birds huddle in nests to await the next. When a single bat cuts sky too early for the mayfly too late for robin. Like threats of let loose. Like cover, like hands over mouths, like breath. Like heat. In eddies where remains of my best friend were bagged, after bound, after held, after down. Like heavy and shut. Like what I call God, what I call Heaven, what I call Green. Where sand holds ankle, promise, and anklet. Bones trace fern. Memory trace warning sign. I sit on the second truss, halfway suspended, awaiting the storm.
stumbles to wall
catches with skin
slides to floor
He can feel Her.
He can feel Her.
He can feel Her.
scabs upon canvas
Or he doesn’t. Not with hands.
falls into child’s pose
canary knees exhausted
postulates to her to her to her
She watches him
until he falls asleep
Shoshana Tehila Surek
Shoshana Surek received her MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University. Her essays, short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, can be read or are forthcoming in Carve Magazine, december Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, Malahat Review, Vestal Review, Cease, Cows, 3Elements Review, and f(r)iction Magazine. In 2017, She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and she is a 2019 Curt Johnson Prose Award finalist. More of her work can be found at www.ShoshanaSurek.com.
I wanted to inform you of the cats and my disposition to move from San Francisco to Palm Springs in about three weeks, living out remaining time in an easier quieter environment.
Serving on non-profit boards plus having a half-century’s active social scene has just become more than we can handle.
I’ll try to adapt to a different existence, and hope to stay in touch with everybody — but I do ask that you be patient, not push too hard – there will be a lot to adjust to plus everything takes extra time at this stage of the game.
I plan on maintaining current email address/ mobile number, will advise you of new home address/ local landline number once have settled in hopefully beginning of March.
I’m so very grateful to have wonderful chums who shower me with love along with support.
Much as I would like to see everyone prior to leaving, it’s impossible. Your understanding is appreciated.
Escape the cold, come to visit next winter during the desert’s wildflower blooming as well as January’s Film Festival if not sooner!
Particularly with my life’s partner passed, I’m missing each of you already.
Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for a handful of recent Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published in academic-related journals (e.g., University Chicago, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, University of San Francisco) plus national (e.g., Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Clementine, pamplemousse, Deluge, Poetry Quarterly, Hypnopomp, Free State Review, Poetry Circle, Poets And War, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Indolent Books, Pandemonium Press, Texas Review, San Antonio Review, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and The New York Times) and international publications (e.g., Review Berlin and New Ulster). He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry is a physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/ resources to deal with global warming. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to future granddaughters.
In those days of “The Ugly American”
and Gary Powers, his U-2 Incident,
we lived and traveled in Scotland and Europe.
It was mostly the intense teenage boys
who yelled, “Yankee, go home!”
or maybe the coal man, if you could
parse out a few understandable words,
who insulted our Canadian friends
by mistaking them for one of us.
Sure, speaking would give us away,
but how did they know us on the streets?
Walking with hands in pockets, some said,
or overcoats, a wimp’s shame
according to the hardy Scot
with his damp-to-the-bone chill and Gulf Stream,
not guessing Arctic winds and ices.
Years later, the writer was unmasked
in Austria without a word, without a pocket,
without a coat. “Because you smiled at me,”
the face of officialdom admitted.
“We don’t mind. It’s nice.”*
We carry our terrarium worlds with us,
never guessing how we seem, yet ever fretting
over imagined opinions. (My female generation
always tucking bra straps, hitching slips …
.”what’s a slip?” …while the young
shape their selfies and let it all show,
have different hang-ups.)
Is it American to always
go “spot checking” ourselves?
The Brit’s American joke back then
was the Yank, hand to mouth,
nose to armpit, checking for suspect odors….
checking….checking … is it only human?
only American?….. or only me?
*from Lynda Lynn Haupt, MOZART’S STARLING
Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in San Pedro River Review, Dryland, Pinyon, Commonweal, Southwestern American Literature, Pour Vida, Adirondack Review, The Maynard, Sanskrit Literary Magazine, U.S.1 Worksheet, Broad River Review, Fire Poetry Review, Homestead Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poem, Haight Ashbury Poetry Journal, Sandy River Review, Blue Unicorn, former people Journal, Main Street Rag, Pigeonholes Review, Poetica Review, Zingara Review, Broad River Review and others. She has published 17 books: children’s novels, legends and poetry, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from Virtual Arts Cooperative Press Purple Flag Series. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.
Karen Carpenter was emblazoned into my retinas in the mid-1970s. I see her as the delicate, elfin creature who tiptoed into the spotlight inside the Hersheypark Arena and simply said “hello.”
That night, Karen wore a bell-bottomed, lace pantsuit and a metallic gold belt. Pantsuits were the rage then. Everyone was wearing them from Gloria Steinman to Charlie’s Angels. But this pantsuit! Fashioned entirely of beige lace. I imagined an elderly, nimble-fingered woman from Bruges, pins pressed tightly between her lips, toiling under weak candlelight with her loyal, calico cat by her side. The lace maker had read the measurements sent by the famous American pop star to a tee. That pantsuit fit like an elegant glove.
As soon as I sat down in my seat eight rows from the stage’s lip, I pretended my concert companion wasn’t there. I vanished the form of her body inside a navy pea coat perched loosely around shoulders into thin air. I blockaded her Shalimar perfume scenting our section like an old flower delivery inside a closed room and concentrated instead on the hopefully intoxicating qualities of second hand pot smoke.
I have no idea how or why my mother and I came to be sitting at that concert together. It was out of our ordinary. We never transcended. We never became more than what we were by blood. We almost never did “friend things.” It wasn’t meant to be. We were too different, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Even with the attendant mystery of why my mother and I attended a concert together once, I remember what a good performance it was. In addition to Karen Carpenter’s outfit, I have a permanent recording of her unique and beautiful voice inside my head: deeply resonant, pure, strong. But when she sang of being on top of the world, her smile was staged, a Cheshire grin on a thin face. Her brother Richard, seated at the piano, had the opposite problem. He was too consistently perky, bobbing his head every second note even during the sad songs like the one about rainy days and Mondays and having the blues.
It’s raining on a Monday. My mother forgets what day it is now. Her short-term memory has gone missing and the other parts of her, her distant memories, her sense of humor, are frequently on the fritz.
Today, she has forgotten more than usual. The index card standing at attention in the middle of her kitchen table is waiting in vain to learn: “TODAY’S DATE IS…” The Lilliputian billboard offering a daily reality check has taken the place of traditional, cheerful seasonal centerpieces and candleholders. I pick up the nearby red pencil and print: “Monday, October 7, 2019.”
“Here is your tea, Mom. No sugar, right?”
“I don’t want that milk.”
“Tea requires a drop of milk, remember? To protect teeth enamel. How about a cookie?”
I open the “sweets cabinet” underneath the toaster oven, noting the blackened toast crumbs and frozen pizza cheese coating the bottom tray like an ugly scab. Some changes about this kitchen of my childhood I will never get used to.
My mother’s sweets cabinet never harbored much promise while I was growing up in that house. Not today either.
“Fig newton or a gingersnap. Unless you want a Saltine or a box of golden raisins.”
“No chocolate chip?”
“No chocolate chip.”
“Forget it then.”
I give her one of each kind of cookie. She bites and chews.
“These cookies are stale. I can’t believe your father hasn’t inhaled them yet. Still good though. These are the classics, figs and snaps. Stick with the classics, Virginia. You’ll never be sorry.”
My mother stands. Limps. Retrieves both cookie boxes. Leaves the cabinet door open in a wide yawn. Takes one more of each variety for he paper plate. I put up my hand in protest when she reaches in for more. She hands over two fig newtons anyway.
“Speaking of the classics, Mom, how about pea coats. Remember those? People still wear pea coats.”
“Those were smart. Nice, big buttons with embossed ship anchors I think. Sailor coats.”
“Remember when you and I saw The Carpenters at the Arena? Remember the lace pantsuit Karen Carpenter wore?” I ask.
“I don’t really like pantsuits on women. Pantsuits make them look like astronauts.”
“What’s wrong with women being astronauts?’
“Nothing, I guess. If you want to fly to the moon, go ahead.” A rare laugh erupts from my mother, but it doesn’t succeed in changing the flat expression that has come to reside on her face.
“Do you remember that, though, Mom, when you and I went to the Hersheypark Arena and we saw The Carpenters? We sat really, really close to the stage?”
Outside, the rain intensifies. In the street, drops dart earthward, bounce off the standing, trampoline puddles. A red bird waits under a grey shrub, twitching nervously. Down the cement sidewalk, across the street, and up an identical walk, Mrs. Milhimes’ has arranged her customary, autumnal display of rust and yellow mums. The straw-hatted scarecrow stuck in one of the pots doesn’t like cold rain on his face. He’s slouched forward. He’s waiting it out.
My mother blinks, smiles weakly, swallows cookie.
“Yes, I do. I surely do,” she responds. “Didn’t we have a lot of fun together.”
I open my mouth and close it. Outside, the red bird decides she can’t wait huddled underneath shelter forever. She leaps, lifts her wings and flaps silently away.
Virginia Watts is the author of poetry and stories found or upcoming in Illuminations, The Florida Review, The Moon City Review, Palooka Magazine, Streetlight Magazine, Burningwood Literary Journal, Ginosko Literary Journal among others. Nominee for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net 2019 in nonfiction, Virginia resides near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.