kt farley

Clear Night

 

The first time she fucked a machine, there was some uncomfortable pinching.  But it was momentary, corrected after a few thrusts by a data-driven recalibration.  The second time was much better.  The machine had measured her depths, tested her temperature, listened to the tempo of her breaths, and now it slid into her with the smooth precision of a crescent moon turning in circles for the sun.  And the money was incredible. Impossible to beat. She could show up for two study visits a week and spend the rest of her time lounging around the hacienda with her fat black lab, Queero, painting and having languid encounters with lovers of the human variety.

 

But lately, something was different.  She was starting to crave the feeling of the machine’s slithery suit sliding across her skin—the softest organic polymers yet, they said.  The other night, Juno came over and seduced her.  As they fell to the bed with mouths full of blue agave, tonguing the circles of tequila’s heat, she caught herself listening for the soft purrs of the machine’s sensors transmitting data back to its central server, missing the rhythmic hum of cooling fans spinning behind glassy eyes.  After Juno left, she sat on the porch in an old flannel robe, feet tucked under Queero, staring out across the bay.  The night was clear, no fog, and there were thousands of drones flying above the waves in coordinated fashion.  Manufactured by the same company as the machine.  Her machine?  God, only two more days until she would see it again. Queero started to snore and she decided there was nothing wrong with drinking alone.

 

kt farley

 

 

kt farley is an errant daughter of Deseret, birthed by pioneers along the red risk lines of the Wasatch Fault. To humor the gods and keep life’s unavoidable balances in the black, kt spends her days working as an attorney and thinking and talking about bioethics and clinical research. Before making the trek over Donner’s peak and settling in Berkeley, kt taught courses in gender studies, queer theory and trans* studies at the University of Utah. kt lives full time with three woodland nymphs (a boy, a woman, and a man who strangely all have the same diminutive waist size), two cats, one naughty dog, and several despicable South American Cichlids.

 

Maryann Wolfe

Guidelines for Eating

 

Do you like peas?

Do you like rice?

asks the little girl in her highchair.

 

Maybe it’s when we are her age

that we first learn the truth about food.

It’s when we make our choices to be

eaters or starvers in times of crisis.

 

Maybe you didn’t grow up that way,”

he says, but “I’m European….”

 

Do you like cheese?

 

I made that soup for you!

I know you love meatball soup—

would you cry if I told you to go

in the kitchen and fix yourself a bowl?”

 

Do you like ham?

We had ham for Easter.

 

“Why are you crying? It’s not like

an airplane has crashed. It’s not like

your mother has been hit by a bus.”

 

Do you like peas?

Do you like rice?

 

“You shouldn’t eat that bread and butter.

Butter is all fat. It will kill you!

Go ahead—here, take this!”

 

Two pounds of butter tumble

across the counter.

 

Do you like cheese?

 

There are times when a woman

wants salt or chocolate,

at least comfort in the form

of bread or peas.

And there are times when this man

eats an entire can of condensed milk.

“It’s a treat,” he says, “Where I grew up

this stuff was over two dollars a can.”

 

Do you like ham?
We had ham for Easter.

 

I know the planning, the time

and preparation that go

into making ham for Easter

or into a bowl of homemade soup.

 

I know how hard it is

to taste a gift when it comes

with words so often repeated,

words that pass through the filter

between brain and mouth

as easy as water through a colander.

 

Do you like peas?

Do you like rice?

 

 

 

Walking in Circles

 

If blindfolded and told to walk

a straight line in the desert,

we cannot do it.

In a forest, where the canopy

of leaves blocks the sun,

we will find an invisible wind

blowing us off course.

It is ingrained in us

to walk in circles.

 

Perhaps this is why I wake

each morning, surprised

that there is no head

on the pillow beside mine.

There is a need to check my phone

for a message from you,

as if I simply slept so soundly

that I did not hear you

returning in the night.

 

But I woke seven times–

the cat was running a circle

from the windows on the east

to the windows on the west.

She is curled up now,

a nap-circle beside my knee.

It doesn’t seem to bother her,

to accept that circular nature

of nose to tail.

 

But I feel myself, orbiting moments,

reaching backwards

for when you were here.

Everyone’s advice would be–

Move on.

As if I could control (or would want to)

the emotion circling

through arteries and veins.

It is only natural

to remain unable (unwilling?)

to follow a linear path.

 

 

 

Pica

 

I remember exactly what my crib tastes like—

a sort of plastic-wood, the way I imagine

a fresh snapped birch twig to taste.

 

These days, as an adult, I try to be choosier

about what I put in my mouth.

As children, we explore and discover,

almost forget how to stay alive.

 

We leave the safety of children to adults,

who install crib sides upside-down

and inadvertently allow our heads to get trapped.

 

Maybe it’s because I understand that imperfection

that I crave the creamy texture

of plastic Risk troops on my tongue.

 

I have the inter-generational habit of idly chewing

the ends of hair, while pondering

some kindergarten question—

 

Some of us always return to taste

as the basic means of understanding.

 

Even the cat is drawn to circles of elastic,

lying in wait on the kitchen table

or on top of the clothes hamper.

 

And somewhere, someone in this neighborhood

is trying to overcome the need to gnaw and chew—

I found a metal spatula with bite marks on its handle.

 

It is lying, lonely, on the sidewalk under a pay phone.

It makes me wonder if its surrender was forced or voluntary.

 

I can picture this cooking tool flung out an open window

by a cook weary of seeking from utensils

what can’t be found in food.

 

Maryann Wolfe

 

Maryann Wolfe teaches creative writing, composition, and food writing at Bridgewater College. She has had work published in The Bluestone Review and Earth’s Daughters and placed in contests run the VA Poetry Society.

 

Samantha Malay

Albany

 

for a while he worked at a school up the road

and told us not to talk to the boys who lived there

but trouble started inside our house

 

the hole in the rug

the beet-stained cloth

the dark-winged insect in the unslept night

 

haste hid his plan

and a dearth of kin

like the letters in the glovebox

from friends who fed our animals

and doubted our return

 

the unclasped necklace

the bruise on the knuckle

the heat of the day trapped in the car

at a gas station pay phone

in a town we didn’t know

 

see the bend in the river

where he longed for the coast

and numbered the things he could part with

 

stand on the porch

of the house near the train tracks

where we curled on the floor

in one room together

and outgrew our clothes

by the end of that winter

 

 

Sift

 

In summer we walked through the woods,

picking wild strawberries and naming the trails as our own.

 

The remains of a homestead lay half-buried, roof joists rotting around rusty cans,

books frail and dusty as moth wings. Grass seeds clung to our clothes.

 

Can you stop time so we can stay together?

 

In town, he drove with his arm across the front seat

to keep us from hitting the dashboard at intersections.

 

Leave your coat on when we get there.

 

He knew these people before he was married. Sad to see us, they asked us to stay.

 

But by then we’d seen dead animals and fires at the edge of the garbage dump,

smoke lingering in the orange peels and eggshells, cigarette butts and toys.

We’d heard arguments through the floorboards, moved into houses with dirty sinks

and medicine abandoned behind the bathroom mirror.

We’d departed together, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the school year,

to sleep in campgrounds and fields.

We’d listened to the snow muffle our voices as it lit the night sky,

tree boughs soft and heavy and quiet.

 

We felt the inward pull of family,

like underwater branches against our legs in the lake.

 

Will you leave us some clues before you go?

We need to know fool’s gold from the real thing,

the names of the people who broke your nose,

and should you kiss the girl on your right when you see a car with one light?

 

 

Lament, 1971

 

Put your feet in the creek,

sit next to me in the shade.

 

Do our voices idle between the books and clothes and dishes we left behind?

 

Unlock the secrets of the language we used to speak.

Hold on, even as meaning unravels.

 

Laundry swings on a clothesline, blocks out the sun. There is a storm coming.

 

Keep still.

 

We make a circle, five of us, like fingers on a hand.

 

Bees swarm where the faucet drips.

 

Pull away, baby boy, from the gestures we inherit.

 

 

Refrain

 

In smoke-scented, threadbare coats

they’d walked through frozen fields and empty streets

toward whispers of work and pickles, fresh bread and fish,

an address in a port city, yellow flowers at the base of a mountain.

 

See the curve of her cheek as she turns from the pier,

seagulls loud in the charcoal sky.

 

They’d dreamt of fruit trees and a food grinder for the new baby.

 

Between tanks of tropical fish, he eats a sandwich at his workbench

in the hazy pungent air.

 

Short sleeves show Navy tattoos, the arms of a tinkerer, an appliance repairman.

Branches heavy with plums obscure the potholed alley.

 

Doorbell. Cars on Orchard Street. A neighbor’s sprinkler.

 

Turn the radio on.

 

Were they led by bravery or hunger?

 

The men who knew him then turn to each other now.

 

Signal and refrain.

 

 

Samantha Malay

 

Samantha Malay was born in Berlin, Germany and grew up in rural eastern Washington State. She is a theatrical wardrobe technician by trade, a writer and a mixed-media artist. Her poem/collage ‘Rimrock Ranch’ was exhibited at Core Gallery in Seattle, Washington in January 2017. Her poem ‘Gather’ was published by The RavensPerch in May 2017, and her poems ‘Rimrock Ranch’ and ‘Homestead’ appear in the summer issue of Sheila-Na-Gig.

 

 

Tea with the Tin Man

In the 1930s, all we English society girls were mad for Munich. Unity Mitford, one of the six troublesome Mitford sisters, was living there at the time. Unity had become a Fascist and a Hitler groupie. She adopted the name “Unity Valkyrie Mitford.” UNITY VALKYRIE roaring around Munich on her black motorcycle steed. She wore a black shirt and a man’s tie and a gold swastika pin on her collar, dressed in black leather head-to-foot and could skillfully dismantle and clean a carburetor. One day she picked me up and said, “Hop on, Sybil, we’re going to the Hofgarten to have tea with Hitler.”

As we approached the table, Unity grasped my hand, she was shaking with excitement. Hitler was so short that when he got up to greet us, I thought he was still sitting down. Really. And his hands, I couldn’t help but notice, when he passed the milk and the sugar bowl. They were rather small and twitchy. Yes, twitchy. Unity told me later it was nothing to worry about. That was just the cocaine. He held a German shepherd puppy in his lap and stroked it with his doll-like fingers, while he held forth on the merits of a small affordable car he was designing for the German people, he called the Volkswagen. He sketched it in a shaky hand on the tablecloth, a squiggly blue-inked bug of a thing. He bought an ice cream for a little girl at the next table and squeezed her pink little knee. I don’t remember much more than that.  My strongest impression was that he was FLAT. Flat and made out of painted tin, like one of those little tin metal soldiers you find in a souvenir stall on the pier at Brighton.

In September of ‘39, when Britain declared war on Germany, Unity took a pearl-handled pistol to the English Garden and shot herself in the head. Unfortunately, she survived. They left the bullet in. While Unity lay in hospital, a huge bouquet of yellow roses arrived in her room.  She showed me the note, written in Hitler’s nearly illegible schoolboy scrawl, “My dearest Fraulein Unity, you are for me the ideal Aryan-Nordic woman. I hope you have saved a lock of your precious blonde hair for me. Get well soon, yours Adolf.” Unity lay there half-paralyzed, her dark roots growing out quite healthily. But with that 9mm bullet lodged in her brain, Unity was never quite right again.

 

Charles Leipart 

Finalist 2017 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize for What Wolfman Knew, Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival; Received the 2016 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, 1st Prize Award for the One Act, Cream Cakes in Munich. His play, A Kind of Marriage, exploring the private life of British novelist E.M. Forster, received an Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation LGBT 2015 Playwrighting Award. His original portrait of Pamela Harriman, Swimming at the Ritz, developed with award-winning BBC director David Giles, began a UK National Tour in March 2011 supported by the Arts Council England; American premiere at New Jersey Rep Company, Jan 2015. Charles is a former fellow of the Edward Albee Foundation and a member of the Dramatists Guild.  www.charlesleipart.com

Modern Art

If you wear a suit of bees

Through the Yale Art Gallery,

They will think you are misplaced art –

And exhibit you somewhere:

Artist unknown – you and your suit of bees will be.

 

You will buzz with acclaim,

The likes of (N.) will adore you,

You and your art: one substance –

Envy of Carrevagio, jealousy of Picasso.

 

Oh, avant-garde!  Oh, expressionist absolutism!

Oh, you and your suit of bees

And a career flowing with milk and honey.

 

But somewhere after midnight

As you remain still on your pedestal,

You will hunger for beer and pizza,

Itch to see old episodes of Dr. Who,

Be desperate for her breasts and eyes

Turning toward you.

 

Mark Fitzpatrick

 

MARK FITZPATRICK is basically a poet although he has had fiction, non-fiction, and drama published. Among his credits are Parting Gifts, Oasis, The MacGuffin, Whiskey Island Review, The Small Pond Magazine of Literature, Oxford Review, Dramatic Shorts, Amarillo Bay and many others. His novel-in-verse was a finalist in the Tassy Walden Creative Writing for Young People contest. Two of his plays are in. He works as an ESL teacher with ELS schools at the University of New Haven. He worked as an ESL teacher in Brazil, Honduras, Haiti, and the Republic of Somaliland. Before he was a child care worker for over 20 years in a low-income, African-American neighborhood of Chicago.

Mark Belair

Mine

 

I was in the yard working

when I heard, through the

open kitchen window,

my wife tap a spoon shank

on the edge of a cooking pot.

 

Of course, it was my mother I heard,

as if transported to years ago,

me a boy, playing in the yard, dusk falling,

my father clipping hedges,

my hunger just starting to gnaw.

 

Then one of my boys ran past crying,

“Mom? Is it dinner yet?”

and I, brought back to the present,

hedge clippers open wide,

knew that that boy—

not a duplicate of me

or owned by anybody—

was, nevertheless, in a living line

of felt continuity,

mine.

 

 

Jingle

 

I lean my elbows,

idly, on

an uneven café table

and everything

jingles—flatware

chinking, sliding saucer

tinkling ice cubes in a glass that

clinks a sugar dispenser—and I’m

awoken from

my sketchy, troubled, already-

vanished reverie of elsewhere,

my raised elbows

resettling—and resettling me to—

the durable

flatware, glass, saucer.

 

Mark Belair

 

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com