Sober Mardi Gras, a Toast

Tricky, tricky

jug full of city

spilt. I’ve abandoned

your brand

of patience, haven’t a care

what’s mirage

or what’s oasis.

I bloat with hydration,

sober for the season,

for the march song repeated

till the horns

distort to moans.

Trodden bead asterisms

breed brief romance

till they go verdigris

with the street grease

at a finite hour,

like the gown back to rags.

What deal was made

and with what fairy godmother,

her billows dragging

trails of golden ants?

I raise an empty glass

to isolation, to feeling

better-than, to the war

of waste underwritten

by the sympathy

of the bourgeoisie,

to the maternal care

the drunk girl

gives to the drunker

who’s not dressed

for the weather,

who falters

in the fiberglass mist,

to the caviling rain that spares

my skin and hair,

to Lent’s plum shadow,

to money made, to the costumed

clown pastry with its Christ-child

punchline.

Shrill cries fester skywards.

Remember to thank

the moon,

who receives them naturally

as wolf bays, naked and cool,

as if after a bath.

Howl until you’re hollow.

I’ll whisper in the medicine,

take you to mass tomorrow,

where, since it’s Carnival,

all gluttony is forgiven,

and you can teach your body

to sleep again.

 

Caroline Rowe

Caroline Rowe (née Zimmer) is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The Raw Art Review, Harbinger Asylum, Cathexis Northwest, and The Jabberwock Review, where she was nominated for the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize. She has also been anthologized in The Maple Leaf Rag (Portals Press). Her debut chapbook, God’s Favorite Redhead, is forthcoming from Lucky Bean Press. She is a lifelong resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Patrice Boyer Claeys, Featured Author

Apple

 

Inside

the apple’s green and glazed skin

something is taking place

hunched in darkness, an ache

for a rebirth of wonder.

 

The five unmistakable marks

little brown seeds

give birth to     a single idea—

delicious rottenness.

 

The star-apple kingdom

lies waiting inside it to be born.

 

 

Cento Sources:  Linda Hogan, Saul Touster, Robert Duncan, Alice B. Fogel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lewis Carroll, Anonymous, Jorie Graham, D. H. Lawrence, Derek Walcott, Li-Young Lee

 

 

 

Plum

 

A bite into a ripe Mariposa,

her blue bodice split at the bulging seams,

explodes like a hot stone

in my mouth.

 

Just one seed

the pit

widow’s eye

in my two hands.

 

 

Cento Sources:  Charles Atkinson, Paisley Rekdal, Louise Erdrich, Mymai Yuan, Jill Bialosky, John Fuller, Lenelle Moise, Carolyn Forché

 

Patrice Boyer Claeys

Patrice Boyer Claeys is the author of two poetry collections: The Machinery of Grace (2020) and Lovely Daughter of the Shattering (2019). Recent work appears or is forthcoming in *82 Review, little somethings press, Relief, Zone 3, Glassworks Magazine, Inflectionist Review, Pirene’s Fountain and Aeolian Harp Anthology 5. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. Patrice lives in Chicago and can be found online at www.patriceboyerclaeys.com.

 

Walking The Edge of Death

 —said by a Wuhan nurse survivor

What we don’t know and what we don’t need:
Is it better to shut down the economy or not;
Is it better to catch a little dose from a crowd
Or suffer alone with your head unbowed;
Does an old drug work or is it just a rumor;
Does the viral dose count or the time of exposure;
Does wearing a mask make things better or worse;
Is it better to give hope or suffer a curse;
Is immunity a careless fib or a malignant lie;
Is disunity more dangerous than viral disease;
Is a shortage of adult behavior just an evil seed;
Are our children really safe playing close to the edge;
What good does hate do in stirring the danger?
So much we don’t know amid much we won’t use.

 

Michael Salcman

Michael Salcman, poet, physician and art historian, was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. Poems appear in Arts & Letters, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Poet Lore and Solstice. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises, 2007), The Enemy of Good is Better (Orchises, 2011), Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing (Persea Books, 2015), and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. Shades & Graces (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020), is the inaugural winner of the Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize.

Catheter Removal

Ten inches of snow accumulate

with low temperatures like

some Arctic escapade the night

before Ken is scheduled to have

his catheter removed.

 

The flight of the dutiful son

who had arranged to accompany

him has been cancelled due to

the snowstorm so Neil is stuck

at home in Texas, and there are

no Australian relatives in Chicago

to drive Ken to his appointment

carrying his urine drainage bag.

 

Then a deus ex machina

floats down

from the seventeenth floor

of our apartment building:

the nice Irish guy e-mails,

If I can do anything to help

after the operation…

 

Ken is at the curb at nine

the next morning as his neighbor

suggests, to drive together

the few blocks from Lake Shore

Drive to Northwestern Hospital

where the snow has been removed

for personnel as well as for patients

who are scheduled to have

their catheters removed.

 

Jan Ball

Jan’s three chapbooks and first full-length poetry book, I Wanted To Dance With My Father, were published by Finishing Line Press. Besides the books, Jan has had 325 poems published or accepted in journals in the U.S., Australia, UK, Canada, Czech Republic, India and Ireland in journals like; Atlanta Review, Chiron, Main Street Rag, and Phoebe. Her poem, “Not Sharing at Yoshu” has just been nominated for the Pushcart by Orbis, Great Britain, 2020. Jan and her husband travel a lot but like to cook for friends when they are home in Chicago.

 

Succession

When you come home

your mother will be silent

like a queen in a new fairy tale.

 

In once-upon-a-time, you heard her

(first sound to greet

your ears). You grew

to her voice, her counsel

guided you. Perhaps its vibration still pings

against, or within, a secret recess,

which you will rediscover

if only you sit quietly enough.

 

Her throne reminds you of succession,

of evolution, in its inevitable emptiness.

 

You might choose it for yourself

and picture how she dropped her shoes

to curl her stocking feet under her on the cushion.

You might take up the paperback

left on the spot, and riffle through it

hopeful for a pressed four-leafed clover,

some further evidence of resonance.

 

Pamela Hobart Carter

Pamela Hobart Carter earned two degrees in geology (Bryn Mawr College and Indiana University) before becoming a science teacher. After more than thirty years in the classroom, she decided to see what writing full-time was like. Her work has been published by The Ekphrastic Review, The Seattle Star, and Fly on the Wall Press, among others, and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Carter also writes plays, fiction, and non-fiction from her Seattle home.

May I?

“May I please have a piece

of candy, grandma, please,

may I?” Water runs in the kitchen.

She doesn’t hear. Little boy’s hand

reaches into green glass bowl,

on the coffee table, waist high.

His fingers grab the golden candy, hold it up

like a trophy, the cellophane crackling. “Young man!

 

Her lips line up, a race he cannot win.

“Did you ask? Did you say may I?”

His bottom lip quivers, he looks down

at the pink carpet, down

at his Buster Brown shoes, one untied,

at the candy, golden juice

on his sweaty palm. He feels

his lips close around it, smiles

under the shag

of his bowl cut.

 

“Look at me

when I talk to you.” Her nails

jerk his jaw up. His hair flops back,

the candy too

to the back of his throat

where it sticks. His eyes reflect

the sun above the empty courtyard

outside. She reaches

for his ankles, one in each hand,

pulls him up. His hair brushes

the carpet, a drop of drool runs

over his forehead, lands.

 

“Spit it out! Spit

it out! Do you hear me?

Do what I say!” Up, down,

up, down. The candy

flies from his mouth, sticks

to the carpet. Up. She lets go.

He lands, forehead, nose, then cheek,

coughs, and cries dark spots onto the rug.

“You just lie there and think

about what you’ve done.” Grandma

knits her hands together, thumbs rub fast

over her fingers. Ten red crescents

bloom on little boy’s ankles.

 

 

Shawna Ervin

Shawna Ervin is an MFA candidate at Rainier Writers Workshop through Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state. She is studying nonfiction and poetry and is a recipient of the Carol Houck and Linda Bierds scholarship. Shawna is a Pushcart nominee and attended the Mineral School residency thanks to a fellowship from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Recent publications include poetry in Tampa Review, Euphony Journal, Evening Street Review, Hiram Poetry Review, The Phoenix, and Raw Art Review; and prose in COG, Apalachee Review, Front Porch, The Delmarva Review, Summerset Review, Superstition Review, and Willow Review. Her chapbook Mother Lines was published in January 2020 by Finishing Line Press. She lives in Denver with her family.