The copper widow
offers a penny a thought
to fill her basket
with derivative fortune
cookie drivel of evil
The two-bit widow
dispenses small-time wisdom;
in small towns throughout the land
think me soothsayer gypsy
The très chic widow’s
a George Sand number,
parfait with kitten-heel pumps,
and couture pop-art bow tie.
The watchful widow
on stake-out beyond the wake
of amplified loss
catches the constellation
Orion hunting me down
I was born on a full moon
a bad-ass moon
in Aries’s house
my sun sign in tight-ass Virgo’s
has a big bulgy ball of loosy-goosies
to contend with
some rules don’t (as here)
fickle the application thereof
I know the rules
know which is which
a poker face doesn’t stand
fake me out
is off-duty tonight
my ram rises
for George Wolff
by Karla Linn Merrifield
Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. Forthcoming this fall is Psyche’s Scroll, a full-length poem, to be published by The Poetry Box Selects in June. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet Redux, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. Google her name to learn more; Tweet @LinnMerrifiel; https://www.facebook.com/karlalinn.merrifield.
I love our pup, she whose DNA chooses to chew
the coffee table’s legs, any book, shoe or the pair
of reading glasses I left where anyone my age
would set them in case of fire, storm, the need
to finally pay a bill, much less an inappropriate
drop-in by someone you would never add to
your daughter’s wedding invitation list. However
it’s 7am and I must feed her. There’s a schedule,
a set of behaviors prescribed in validated tomes
by those who decided never to major in philosophy,
dance history, or literature. They opened their minds
to trial and error, determining a schedule is for sure
the only way to raise a confident and willing companion
who will at some unfathomable day give up dragging
anything dangling—bed spread, sweater, scarf, shower curtain—
who will come when called, sit, lie down, heel, fetch, love
me even when there is no treat. But it’s 7am and I
staggered to bed after meeting a deadline at 3am.
The schedule proclaims “Feed the pup at the same time
every day.” If she sleeps just a measly hour longer, do I
risk her turning into the neighborhood’s teeth baring
dingo who digs up Mrs. Phelps’s petunias, snarls
at the priest on his daily walk, steals the dump truck
from the sandbox down the street, snaps at the kid
selling magazines for a trip to Haiti? Will I be
the one whose best friend must be muzzled for
sleeping into just one more hour of just another day?
Do I take a rabid risk? Oh hell, God bless the kibble.
by Jack Ridl
Jack Ridl’s collection Broken Symmetry was named the year’s best collection by The Society of Midland Authors. His Practicing to Walk Like a Heron received the Gold Medal for Poetry from ForeWord Review/ALA, and his Against Elegies was chosen by Billy Collins for The Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize. He was named Michigan’s Professor of the Year by the Case/Carnegie Foundation. More than 90 of his students are now publishing their work, several of whom have won first book awards.
I’m leaving you tonight,
but before I leave I’m taking your chess,
your ping-pong, your Poems of Others,
your quiet geometry, your sloppy watercolors.
I always thought your nudes were ingenuous
and your self-portraits perfidious.
I’m taking your fatal pouty mouth,
the oil in your scalp, the virile volatile day
when we went to see your mother’s face.
I’m taking every square centimeter of cloistered soap
and skin bacteria from your sink.
And your affection for sentimentality
and for marshmallows.
The yacht is already sold,
and the money is kept safe with the mafia.
I’m taking your teeth, one by one,
all of them, and some more.
You’ll never ever be as chic
as you were when you lived with me.
I’ll wear your torso on my sleeve
and your allergic reactions on my knees,
already pale and sick for a lifetime’s sentence
of Saturday’s nights without the company of crickets
and your asthmatic burly posture. I don’t know
how you went so far with that attitude.
I ‘m taking and taking a little more—
your unresolved conflicts
of sex and ego with the mirror,
the thrill you get from stains on a white shirt,
the pancreatic cancer you never experienced,
the bitter-sweet days
where you had me but desired her.
I’m taking the vision of love in your progressive astigmatism
and your accelerated breath every time you saw a beautiful girl,
a relic more than a memory, stark as a roasted pig,
still pink, on the Thanksgiving dining table.
I’m taking all that defines you as a person
because I cannot think of any other way
to be remembered.
Give Me Joy, Not Liberty
No one feels well here. Not the turkeys during Christmas,
not the mouse in the pet shop doing acrobatics with its tongue,
not the maiden, not the nun, not the bricklayer,
not the beautiful but toxic Russian for-hire assassin
who sat down to drink in a club by the beach in 1998
and hasn’t gotten up since.
The orthodontist is sad. The dog walker is sad.
The sommelier racing downstairs for a Sancerre is sad.
The traffic cop with the fat neck and the loaded gun
ready to shoot anybody is also sad.
The communist novelist looking for inspiration
in a café decorated with posters of Che
cannot believe how sad the world is after he wrote one word
on a scrap of newspaper soaked in champagne.
Ocean Drive Drag Queen Nina Blackrose is sad,
so is the trophy wife cloistered in a yacht.
The young are as sad as the elderly.
The bald and the handsome are equally affected by suffering.
The beginning actress who didn’t get the role in the audition
is sad and needs sleeping pills to make it through the night.
There are no sleeping pills in America anymore—
Marilyn Monroe took them all.
The Italian whisky-seller
sadly stays in the scene all year round,
littering cigarette butts and glasses half full of Jack Daniel’s,
shoulder to shoulder
with sad thick gold- toothed naked trapeze girls,
dropping bills as if he owned
that trashy juke joint on 11th street.
Sadness is more serious than acne. Just ask Benitez,
or the technician from the cable company.
I had an abortion on a morning as yellow as margarine.
My doctor, who was obviously depressed,
recommended that I avoid heavy lifting
and cardiovascular activity for a week.
I sit by myself on a bench in the playground
to look at the children playing.
They all have features that foretell potential for grief—
the rigidity of a jaw, the crude rhythm of a hip,
the deranged leg in the air—
as if they had inherited tragedy from their parents,
who were once naïve 7-year-olds
chasing restlessly after a ball,
but grew up to become sad sommeliers,
by Grethel Ramos
Grethel Ramos Fiad is a Cuban-American journalist, writer, poet and photographer currently living in Miami. Her poetry rejects the cheap comforts of dogmatic conventionality and welcomes the disclosure of the dissonances in human nature.