jug full of city
spilt. I’ve abandoned
of patience, haven’t a care
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,
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
Shrill cries fester skywards.
Remember to thank
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 (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.
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—
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
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
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.
—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, 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.
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
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’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.
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 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 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.