Friday, 28 January 2022

 

A Walk with my Almost-Four-Year-Old Grandson

by Brooke Herter James


He gathers questions as we stroll
down the pebbled beach,
why the ocean is deep
and where the moon sleeps,
why clams need water,
why hot dogs are called hot dogs,
where the fire goes when it goes out
and Why is this periwinkle orange?

He doesn’t seem to mind my I’m not sure
as he plops treasure after treasure
into his red plastic pail.
Later, as he arranges them
on a blue-striped beach towel,
a seaside display he calls his museum,
he waives the mussel shell entrance fee,
promising he will teach me about everything for free.


* * * * *

Brooke Herter James is the author of two poetry chapbooks, The Widest  Eye (2016) and Spring took the Long Way Around (2019), one prose poetry/photography collection, Postcards from Montana (2020) and one children’s book, Why Did the Farmer Cross the Road? (2017). Her poems have appeared in Mountain Troubadour Poetry Journal, Tulip Tree Review, Orbis and Rattle, as well as the online publications Poets Reading the News, New Verse News, Flapper Press, Typishly and Writing in a Woman’s Voice. She lives on small farm in Vermont.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

 

Surfer Boy

by Alexis Rhone Fancher and Dion O'Reilly

 

He taught me to eat raw fish, to mix wasabi and soy sauce into a thick green slurry, use ivory chopsticks to dip the sushi without severing it from its rice bed. Clumsy at first, soon we were feeding each other morsels of mackerel, a bite of raw shrimp, salmon sashimi, slippery on the tongue. Easy then to slip into his bed, already besotted with things raw and delicious. Those were the days I was free for the taking, men schooling around, and me, the wide open sea.   He began at my feet, told me not to look at him; I stared at the mirror on his closet door, watched his reflection devour me like bait. You have a beautiful cliTORis, he marveled. It’s pronounced CLItoris, I said. There was a wetsuit in the closet. A surfboard rested next to the bed. On the wall, pages torn from Surfer Magazine — mammoth, lapis lazuli waves dwarfed lone surfers as they shot the curl. A metaphor. We drank a bottle of saki, and then another. He showed me the St. Christopher medal around his neck. He was named for that patron saint of wanderers, but he stayed put until November, when the surf turned cold and the money ran out. Christopher sold off his stuff for traveling cash; dishes, linens, the radio. I like to travel light, he said.   A few nights before Chris left for Maui’s Banzai pipeline, we spent my last fifty on tequila and limes, invited a few of his surfer buds for a final aloha. Before the night ended I went down on one of them while Chris watched. All of us, bombed out of our minds. That guy kept calling, telling me how hot I was and how he wanted to “return the favor.”   Just drop me off here, Chris said when I pulled up at the Hawaiian Airlines terminal at LAX. He removed the long, silver chain with the St. Christopher medal from his neck, placed it over my head. Hey, he said, his lips brushing mine. It’s been real.


* * * * *

"Surfer Boy" was first published in Interlitq (spring 2021). Written with Dion O’Reilly.

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, Cleaver, Diode, Duende, Pirene’s Fountain, Poetry East, Pedestal Magazine and elsewhere. She’s authored five poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019), and EROTIC: New & Selected (New York Quarterly Books, 2021). Another, full-length collection (in Italian) by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, was published in 2021. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Daily. www.alexisrhonefancher.com

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

 


SWEET TOOTH

by Alexis Rhone Fancher


The man in the window is cheesecake;
if I could soar across Main St.
and land in his arms, I’d eat him for dessert.

He’s caramel poured in those low-slung jeans,
a Sugar Daddy™ (‘lasts forever if you lick it right’).

He’s marzipan, clean-cut, the jut of his hipbone

reflecting the sun. I’m come undone

by the clockwork of his days,

his devil’s food dismount from that Shimano aluminum bike,
how he disappears inside the foyer.

If he were mine,

I’d ride him like a stolen bicycle.

He strips down to sweetmeat, Monday through Friday, 5 p.m.
“Happy Hour,” when

he hangs the bike on the wall.

And me, happy to watch his muscles ripple.

He stretches out on the bed, my creature of habit,

his O’Henry™ straining against its wrapper.

This I know:
He’s an all-day sucker.
He doesn’t believe in drapes.





* * * * *

"Sweet Tooth" was f
irst published in PLUME, 2018. Text and photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher. 

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, Cleaver, Diode, Duende, Pirene’s Fountain, Poetry East, Pedestal Magazine and elsewhere. She’s authored five poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019), and EROTIC: New & Selected (New York Quarterly Books, 2021). Another, full-length collection (in Italian) by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, was published in 2021. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Daily. www.alexisrhonefancher.com



Tuesday, 25 January 2022


26 A to Z Unalphabetized Ways To __ Fake / Take / Make / Bake __ Five

by Jen Schneider

just when it seems there is nothing more to do/say/fear/be, a random drop/lyric/note rings. it’s the door. perhaps a delivery. no. only the television. or was it the phone. either/or. neither/nor. a distraction all the same. just when it seems there is nothing more to want/need/form/see, a random distraction/attraction/refraction shine. it’s the light. perhaps a bird in flight. a knitting needle – size eight / perhaps ten - in rotation. purl. purr. a kitty. no. only the fly. or was it a flea. either/or. neither/nor. a daily special all the same. inhale/exhale. breathe/relieve. tip. tap. nails on keys. soles on souls. quarter notes stream. time takes no cautions. days take no dare. just when it seems there is nothing more to ___, there remain many reasons ways to __take/make/bake__ five.

26 A to Z Unalphabetized Ways To __ Fake / Take / Make / Bake __ Five

1.     knit numbers of wool and cotton

2.     untangle quilts of letters and lyrics

3.     broadcast blessings over broken whole grain bread

4.     chop, dice, and simmer syllables on ice

5.     notify no one

6.     hail a taxi with moxie or by proxy (pay no regard to its unorthodoxy)

7.     dig for basement bands and five of a kind hands

8.     scrap hokey chatter & scrape cookie dough batter

9.     treasure sweet & sour tastings

10.  absorb aromatic offerings of lilac and honey

11.  quiet quickening beats beats beats / replace with retreats

12.  order spice racks from annatto to zedoary

13.  fuse recollections of photos past

14.  yank stray fibers from head and hand

15.  gaze with hesitation. graze without reservation

16.  recite / repeat / reimagine -- just take five

17.  multiply memorabilia manufactured of moments past

18.  veil shadows that loom and sounds that linger

19.  eyeball mannequins of heels and hose

20.  journal figures of sticks, prime time flicks, and evening candle wicks

21.  inhale. inhale. inhale.

22.  eXclaim not / eXhale / eXclaim not / eXhale

23.  whistle tunes of quartets & quarter time

24.  listen for lyrics that linger as basic trios transform time, space, & place

25.  pause ponderings. pause longings. pause meanderings.

26.  yield to oncoming traffic of mind and motor


* * * * *

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of Invisible Ink (Toho Pub), On Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility (forthcoming, Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups (forthcoming Atmosphere Press).

 

Monday, 24 January 2022


i carry your heart [& hand] with me [even as we close / i leave / they shutter the shop] 

by Jen Schneider

wood framed doors bear signs written by/of hand in sharpie font. streaks & smudges of black/red/blue ink. greetings / all are welcome / open for business / we are / sale. hammers knock. plywood covers. affronts on grammar. all grammar welcome.  

bargains to/of/for the people. the community. comrades always at war. most wars unseen. series of quips, quirks, and quiet pleadings with no sound. stretched scotch tape [now curled] a mask for the emptiness within. of spaces where shopkeepers [early risers/bakers/stockers] [late night fillers/checkers/supervisors] hang/hung chimes over doors [like mistletoe] now unhinged / dangled goods, goodies, goblins, and giveaways [hard & soft] [of chocolate candy, peppermint twist, & and salt-water taffy nuggets] 

beats punctuated by markers both silent & unfamiliar. tense periods. i carry your heart in my back pocket [the one I no longer have / that fails to cease] [receipts / purchase orders / to dos / dues]  

i carry your pulse in my being [the hum of the soda – pepsi & coke - cooler / the ding of the front register – home to nickels & dimes / the soft squish of the dark olive berber (or was it beige?) carpet]  

i carry your fibers in the cotton of my faded navy khakis & crisp red polo (company issued). layers of laces. layers of rubber soles. swept dust in corners. cotton socks & sockets heavy of tears (& tears) squish / squash / squelch.

i carry your image (the rectangular building’s far right / far back shelf of plastic trucks [later trains] & far left / far back shelf of plastic [later glass] bottles) in the galleries [galleys] of my mind. speeds always increasing. tallies never yielding. lottery tickets always on sale.  

i carry your flavor (vanilla, coffee grinds, griddle grease) / scent (sweat mixed of lavender air freshener & chicken soup in metal kettles) /sounds (light jazz, heavy chatter, ping. ping. ping.) in my belly/nose/canals. soda fountain glasses etched of prints of many nations, vinyl stool cushions molded of bums of many motions, radio dials turned [right / left / full rotations of both sun & moon] by tired hands.

i carry you / as [the memory of] you carry me [beat, pump, pulse, drift] across/over/thru moons of many moments.

turfs/hurts of tired mats/mall rats [of front & back doors] lie unencumbered.

feet squash faded W.E.L.C.O.M.E.[s]  


* * * * *

"i carry your heart [& hand] with me [even as we close / i leave / they shutter the shop]" was first published in unstamatic.

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of Invisible Ink (Toho Pub), On Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility (forthcoming, Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups (forthcoming Atmosphere Press).

Sunday, 23 January 2022

 

Lily Ann Rose
January 23, 2022

by Paula R. Hilton

 
You would have been 89 today. As a teen,
you danced your way into risqué burlesque.
Shook your breasts performing in Scollay Square.
Wanted to be a star. Said, “It’s all I lived for.”
 
Underage, censored onstage. Arrested, jailed
for lewd, lascivious conduct. Memory made 
you laugh, roll your eyes. “Hauled away for 
shaking my butt in a club of questionable morals.” 
 
“My butt was covered with 50 yards of ruffles.
No way anybody could see anything. I was proud 
of those panties. Sheer, very sheer. Could make 
ruffles on my rear shake like lightening bugs in a jar.”
 
Three days in jail cell made you pull the curtain on 
Lily Ann Rose. You became a writer, wife, mother, 
grandmother with burlesque in your blood. “Banned 
in Boston, but I’ll sure as hell be a star in heaven.”
 

* * * * *

Paula R. Hilton explores the immediacy of memory and how our most important relationships define us. Her work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and has appeared in The Sunlight Press, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, Feminine Collective, Dear Damsels, The Tulane Review, and elsewhere. Her novel, Little Miss Chaos, was selected as a Best Indie Teen Read by Kirkus, and her first poetry collection, At Any Given Second, received a Kirkus star. She holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans. Read more of her work at paularhilton.com