1977

I loved the humidity then.

It could have smothered me.

I didn’t mind,

in the tree house,

lying on my back like a forgotten swimsuit,

drinking in the hum of flies.

I rolled over the uneven planks until the call for dinner.

That verdict now in.

 

Heat waves never drove

down my street

when I was seven,

but one crawled over our back fence

when I was thirteen.

 

I timed the drops

of sweat, beads like men

solitary and suicidal leaping from my face

until my father drove up.

 

Even the heat

didn’t dare go near him.

 

Candice Kelsey

Candice is a passionate educator who has been challenging students to think and live well for 18 years. Her poems have been published in print and online publications, including The Forum (San Francisco City College), 13th Floor Magazine, Tethered by Letters’ f(r)iction, 50 Haiku, Assaricus; she has read at various LitQuake and open mic events from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Candice is also the author of a 2007 trade paperback book (de Capo) which led to her spot on NPR with Diane Rehm. Candice earned her M.A. in literature from LMU. She is an Ohio native who carves out life in Los Angeles with the help of her three children and many pets.

My Father’s Song

Some men are born

gathering a nest

 

of white and dark

fabulous musical notes

 

to them,

and some men,

 

born broken like two halves

of the April moon,

 

discover that to drink

alone at night –

 

under the glass chandelier’s

metropolis of stars

 

buzzing over a river’s

boardwalk where tugboats

 

usher in ships

whose melodic horns

 

blow mournful refrains

like liquid train whistles

 

over the bay –

is to discover

 

the very edge

where heartache

 

and music, those twin

companions, prevail.

 

And so at night,

they lift up

 

their strong arms,

and they carry their horns

 

under a twilight,

and they saunter out

 

where the moonlight glows

like a great partridge pea

 

hanging loose in the sky

so that they can feel

 

all that aloneness

there, holding court.

 

And then they blow their horn

to the moon,

 

and to the Goddess body,

and to the many bodies,

 

and to beauty

and to soul,

 

and to the vast category

of inscrutable love,

 

and thus is their benediction –

many forms: a tuneful ladder.

 

And when they find it,

their song –

 

they become forsaken

by every sweet summer

 

night,

every lost love

 

they could never

hold tight,

 

and, within themselves,

smoked holy

 

with the music one feels

when one is blessed full

 

with camphor and blues,

they depart.

 

 

 

Ken Meisel

Ken Meisel is a poet and psychotherapist from the Detroit area. He is a 2012 Kresge Arts Literary Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, Swan Duckling chapbook contest winner, winner of the Liakoura Prize and the author of six poetry collections: The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door (FutureCycle Press: 2015), Scrap Metal Mantra Poems (Main Street Rag: 2013), Beautiful Rust (Bottom Dog Press: 2009), Just Listening (Pure Heart Press: 2007), Before Exiting (Pure Heart Press: 2006) and Sometimes the Wind (March Street Press: 2002). His work in over 80 national magazines including Cream City Review, Rattle, Ruminate, Midwest Gothic, Concho River Review, San Pedro River Review, Boxcar Review, Otis Nebula, Kentucky Review, Birdfeast, Muddy River Poetry Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Lake Effect, Third Wednesday and Bryant Literary Review.

Nature is Nurture

I swear I can feel the grass

extend myself out, reach to touch

pet and adore, show my affection.

 

Light makes me marvel

all those photons busy working;

a free painting every second.

 

If my hope were tangible

I could easily say

it lives in times of quiet

blessed by a hummingbird

beating its wings.

 

 

Penney Knightly

Penney Knightly is a survivor of sexual abuse; themes about that are often found in her work. Her poetry has appeared in Broad Magazine, Big River Review, Dead King, Ink in Thirds, and elsewhere. She lives with her family on a sailboat in the San Francisco Bay, where she writes and makes art. She tweets @penneyknightly and shares on her blog http://penneyknightly.com.