Returning to their home town after 25 years
was surreal. They got lost trying to get to
the high school. The ice cream stand they worked in
was now a dry cleaners, while Old Smith’s Farm
was gone altogether.
Looking at the photos posted by George
the old swimming hole back home is now a fancy
water park with diving platforms and a wave pool
and roller coaster slides such a blight on that old
small town charm and I think I’m going to cry.
Contrasting today’s summer of yardwork
house repairs, car troubles and no money
with his youthful summers of dating, swimming
ice cream stands and summer stock theatre makes him sad
with longing and knowing you can never go home again.
Michael Estabrook is retired. No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms, able instead to focus on making better poems when he’s not, of course, endeavoring to satisfy his wife’s legendary Honey-Do List.
Hymn for Plenty
I believe in keeping what I want,
in dropping everything,
the briny taste of the sunset
yolking the raw meat of the trees.
I believe in throwing the baby out,
the jimson weed rolled tight,
waiting for moonlight, for a smoke,
a lithe trellis to tendril the air.
I believe in leaving it all unfinished.
It cannot be a deity until we make it
a deity, so nobody say a thing
about the wicked wisteria this year.
Something empty is something else
full, faithless, sunflowers
no longer turning away from shadows
to the light at the fencerow’s edge.
—after the Tohoku Tsunami
It survived the mess,
suspended over the splintered houses,
a last green asterisk to the Wave,
but then died shortly after.
I hear the townspeople plunked
a concrete likeness down in its place.
By god we find our ways to bring things back,
telling ourselves it takes a disaster.
An industrious bunch, we waste no time
fitting our handles to our little thumbs.
We get to work.
We blast, maim, pierce, and gut
to resurrect what we think should always be.
We fricassee and freeze out.
Afraid, we hang, starve, segregate, assimilate.
We neoliberalize and racialize—
memorialize, legislate, whitewash,
waterboard, roast, infect.
But most of all, we just make hay.
In fact, a man right now out the window
in the cold March will not yet give up
jackhammers some sidewalk into oblivion,
dreaming of his old neighborhood.
James Everett has lived and taught English as a Lingua Franca for over fifteen years in the United States, Belize, rural Japan, and Malaysia as a Fulbright grant recipient. The people, languages, and landscapes of these places have led him to an inordinate love of international grocery stores, where Daniela, his daughter, Tania, his spouse, and he lose themselves for hours whenever their budget allows. Their kitchen smells of assorted fermented pastes, boiling daikon, patacones, tortillas from an old family recipe, Ecuadorian caldos, and popcorn they raise themselves in a community garden. Over coffee cups of pilsner and guayusa tea, they celebrate journals that have kindly published James’s work: the Evansville Review, Alimentum, Unsplendid, The Cortland Review, and many others.
Contemplate the smooth
frisk the word,
fall to overhear
the dried rustle,
a keyboard presses itself.
The bell rings,
the cat wafer,
on the artery,
out from the bush,
clings, map to life.
how do I call for you?
a word fitted freshly,
airy curtain pounding,
Names are myths
to be released,
wrench them out,
feet hang on
the wooden floor, the
painted oaks spoiled,
rubbing the tip,
may the licorice cup
cease to be called,
a calling in, a lift
itsy bitsy gray reflections,
antsy dots settle
preserve or react
name of some
on tired eyes.
the vital spirit.
Benedict Downing has written fiction, poetry since his adolescence. He joined local community reading circles, workshops, college literary groups, and ventured into his own. Has published in literary journals like Poetry Life and Times, Danse Macabre, Belleville Park Pages, Crack the Spine, New Plains Review, and The Sentinel Quarterly. He is currently working in his second novel, and other projects. There are two published books written by Mr. Downing. A poetry book “Sidereal Reflux” (2011) and a novel “Epicrisis” (2014).
Mother Never Cries
Come over she says I’ll make you a tuna fish sandwich
Lunch with Mother who lives in black and white
Black – Uncle Ado –Cheap bastard – money to him was everything
Black – her friend Nina banished –She sent her sister away to a nursing home
Those in black were dead but no tears only anger
About her whites she has an ease
Your father I kiss him once in the morning and once at night
Now, as I bite into her sandwich she comes closer…leans in
You know I never cry, not even when my father died
I’m at a loss, what’s this Mom…doubt?
Did she think, My boy, see what he says
Tell him what I don’t understand
I with never a question about anything…ever?
And I think what a strange way
It would be to tell me
I love you
What a strange way
The wintry day says gloves
Walk in the cold rain and it says gloves
Stop for lunch at the Tex Mex and it says
Gloves on the table to pencil my menu selection
The newspaper to read and it says to my spot by the window
The chicken, beans and rice plate and it says life is good
Time to go and where are my gloves?
On the table, in my briefcase, in my jacket and nothing
I look up and at the door a man in a sweatshirt holds gloves
Out the door he goes and doesn’t put them on
I see him walk down the block
They could be my gloves
I think I’m an old fool these days
I can’t chase him down the block
Maybe the gloves in a place I missed
Might even have left them home
No, he walks out with the gloves that say
Look here, left alone on the table
Left alone and it’s not a steal
He couldn’t just call out – anyone here lose these
Yet I want some sort of answer
Someone at fault…
Someone at kindness
The man not quite a thief
Me not quite a victim
Greg Moglia is a veteran of 27 years as Adjunct Professor of Philosophy of Education at N.Y.U and 37 years as a high school teacher of Physics and Psychology. His poems have been accepted in over 300 journals in the U.S., Canada, England, India, Australia, Sweden, Belgium and Austria as well as five anthologies. He is 8 times a winner of an ALLEN GINSBERG Poetry Award sponsored by the poetry center at Passaic County Community College. He lives in Huntington, N.Y.
it spills, like ink drooling into graveled
roads, hair hanging from the broken neck—
i run—past the smoked houses that smell of
firecrackers on new year’s—but too
heavy—it drags across my skin;
they said the wokou are coming! ri ben ren lai le!
but the peonies dressed with summer’s qipao
told us stay, stay, stay.
did we stay to die here?
his stomach bulged as they forced water
down his throat, eyes screaming mercy—
uncle, your swollen body haunts me now.
and mother, lullabies and village songs have grown
into the pig’s squeal just before the butcher’s mark—
what did you sing to me before? all i recall is,
“don’t touch me there!”
they said “world war”
but what did we do?
i have seen things. pregnant women with torn open bellies,
heads of our ragtag soldiers in target practice.
the red scarf of a schoolgirl.
her body splayed open, dumped in our once-blue pond.
why did we stay?
i did not want this adventure.
my voice has stilled; i am no longer brave like mulan, my hero.
wait, i wasn’t ready.
Allison Chen is a writer from Queen Creek, Arizona. She has been published or upcoming publication in the Paha Review, Canvas Literary Journal, Shine: Best Arizona Teen Writing of 2016, Brushtalks Magazine, and the Writer’s Slate. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, Mount Mercy University, and Skipping Stones Youth Honor Awards.
with a heaved sigh.
Only the bachelor jay
bathed in his cerulean vest
resists the fait accompli
of ephemeral gray.
The lynx pads soundlessly
into this laundered, stony light,
tufted ears twitching
to the avian colic
from snowshoed feet;
roods upon whispered white.
Deep inside this refuge,
her feline eye—burnt
ochre to its edges—
in a clasping, crushing end.
Though a button breeze,
Time’s muted arbiter,
foretells some misgiving:
in a lethal distance—
the southernmost verge
of an endangered range.
Gina Marie Bernard holds B.A., B.S., and M.A. degrees from Bemidji State University. She writes and teaches high school English in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, are the two halves of her heart. Her work has recently appeared in Appalachia, Balloons Lit. Journal, The Bat Shat, Border Crossing, Cimarron Review, Fox Cry Review, Glitterwolf Magazine, Tule Review, and Uprooted: An Anthology on Gender and Illness.