In German, Kummer means grief.
My grandmother died twice: the first time was a lie.
My mom asked a friend to call her at work with a fake family emergency. Afterwards, we drove to Paducah and ate Arby’s french fries.
My mother talked about how awful my grandmother was and told me I should be grateful I had a great mother.
The second time was the truth.
My grandmother passed out drunk outside her trailer in rural Oklahoma in the middle of winter. They found her on the first of January, her bones frozen and her fingers cold.
My mother laid in bed and wept for hours. She cried until she threw up, until words could no longer escape her mouth. She cried until she found it difficult to breathe, her chest concaving in rapid and hectic spurts.
There are words in German that can’t be translated into English.
These words travel down linguistical rivers and get lost in the current.
Words that dangle from broken driftwood.
Kummerspeck is the German word for the rolls of fat that have accumulated around my mother’s waistline.
Kummerspeck cannot be translated into English. When all emotions are abandoned, it translates to grief bacon.
My mother used to starve herself
She would only nibble her food
This was back when daddy would hit her every time she said something he didn’t like
She thought the faster she wasted away,
The faster her bones protruded from bruised and beaten skin
The faster she could escape
After my grandmother died, my mother became fat.
Her stomach bubbled over her jeans.
Her bones became lost under pounds of adipose tissue
She taught me food was a substitute for therapy
And words that were too hard to say out loud.
by Brittny Meredith
Brittny Meredith was voted “most opinionated” in high school and has since considered it a challenge to remain the loudest, most obnoxious woman in the room. She co-hosts the podcast, Mansplaining, where she analyzes hyper-masculine culture within action films. Her work has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and Graceless.
Aum Ah Loka Ah Hung
Jah Sirocco Loam Shekinah Sirrah Sung
Slippers and Tea
Flippers and Thee
Hi Dee Ho / Hi Dee Hee
Tee Hee Tee Hee
Bless me Holy Father for I have pinned
thy priests’ performance to a document of sins:
from raping little children to enslaving Indians,
from enflaming witches, to left freezing street denizens;
a bejewelled hierarchy,
women blamed and excluded;
the task overdue: Ask forgiveness — please the dead —
for doctrine of discovery, terra nullius, indebted payments
for lands and autonomy stolen, coloured citizens
fallen to a cross on one hand, larcenous sword of Jesus in t’other.
pray for the wind for the curtains that bulge at windows
breeze to cool the fevers of memory
More, you say, more…. Economy’s profit, the crop tall and green;
but mono-, not poly-, lone farmer on empty plain,
without bison or predaceous partners: no wolves, no bears —
no gophers, no hawks; fields of one plant, ahh Christ,
how’d I get stuck here, no neighbours, no helpers,
just me ‘n’ this bleedin’ time-delimited scheme?
pleasant little creek from the glacier’s tongue
meanders even froths through high meadow
tasting the soil its knowable limits
Pipe wrench and wires, screw threads and welds,
mechanico-industrial pumps roaring out dulled life, pitting
worker ‘gainst worker, race against race,
cis- against genders of any other;
theft division and greed engrained industry’s
employment, wage slaves the norm, boss above workers;
owners on holiday, counting their harm.
oh lord won’t you grant me…
a seat round the fire
In the systems of robbery blue notes drone, counterpoint
to a march of military gore — the ordinary scheme of things.
Jazz rocks through agonies of approved comportment,
belies the instructive stance, upsetting the conditioned woes;
unseating the ministers to the dance floor of doom, the generals,
the hireling politicians chanting choruses after chorus
where the blood red river flows.
sing the silk road sing the desert and mountains
horses and camels elephants and yaks
sings with the animals sings to the distant sea
oh hear the answers
not so funny;
all that piss pot
full of money.
Sort out the good ‘uns,
kill all the bad;
lever up the leavings
for the little buggered lad;
lever up the leavings
that the women never had;
lost it on the shore,
lost it in the war,
tore up the deed
to the burning store.
by Philip Kienholz
Philip Kienholz studied creative writing at North Dakota State University and received a B. Arch from the University of Manitoba. Publishing credits include a 2016 book, Display: Poems; two chapbooks, The Third Rib Knife, and Born to Rant, Coerced to Smile, as well as poems in journals: Whirlwind, Windsor Review, Greenzine, River Dhamma, Links, Poetry Halifax, Global Tapestry Journal, NeWest Review, Cutting Edge, Quarry, Atticus Review, Whetstone, Prairie Fire, Ecospeak, and Crazy Horse.
Grievance is impatient;
Grief is patient.
On the sidewalk outside the Millgate Inn,
in a baseball cap, with a catcher’s mit,
it waits at 4:15 P.M. Father had promised
the dunes sculpted by wind and water
last summer and all autumn then
Persona of the displaced roots,
the tiding stem that broke ground
in winter before one last freeze,
Only a slip of a feral bud speaks
but the scent of its voice drowns
in the evening bustle of bawdymen
roughhousing toward homekept ladies.
On the pavement so many once like itself
spread from the factory gate like Jews
rushing from Cossacks; the furnace
of the mill is the eye and the heart
of the Czar. The feral bud
waits for the thick hand
of its planter to pluck it up
into the swirl of homerush,
the scent of its voice on the ear
of the old man whose grace
levels the pavement. Today,
it will say, will we go Dunes–
to the dunes and write in the sand.
A strange rough cloth stands behind
the bud; it is the messenger
who carries the charred boot.
Dew on the first petal of the flower;
winter comes again. The street
empties while the petals unfold.
The tiding stem woodens;
it is a line pointing, a ray outward
toward the center, pistil and stamen.
Like a lump of slag, the seed planter
in a steel vase is lowered, is planted.
The sapling headstone erect without word.
He had wanted no words on him.
Give me a tree on my chest; it is best,
for I have made roots where there were
So I shall stand forever in the tree,
in one place.
Sea-oats imported, planted on dunes
that had long squirmed like a worm’s
belly on hot pavement, going nowhere.
The sea-oats’ dying blackened dunes
with their dust; they have reddened
sunsets with pollen, done the work of ages.
The dunes are a place or remnant of place
before the sea-oats worked it, drained
the tidal pools, and flattened the world
as it was. The sea-oats shaded the grass,
nurtured the feral buds,
became food for trees.
Be no flower on another man’s lapel,
he had said; be a wild rose
thorny and elegant and wild
like the grass at the dunes
The trees became houses then homes.
History began in these homes,
repeated the world as it was,
and that world as it was then
became the world as it is now
The Dunes. Sculpted by wind.
The furnace fires.
My father’s tree,
my tree, its roots in place.
by John Horvath Jr
Mississippian John Horváth Jr publishes internationally since the 1960s (recently in Munyori Review (Zimbabwe); Broad River Review (print). Pink Litter, and Olentangy Review). After Vanderbilt and Florida State universities, “Doc” Horváth taught at historically Black colleges. Since 1997, to promote contemporary international poetry, Horváth edits www.poetryrepairs.com.