Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Death and Football

by Hayley Mitchell Haugen

 
On his eighty-third birthday my parents’ neighbor
had a simple lunch, poured himself a highball,
retired to the den for the Bengals game,
and stopped breathing.
 
When his wife discovered him, she did what her heart
told her – called the paramedics, who arrived
with their epinephrine and defibrillators, to revive
the pulse that failed him.
 
Medicine took over, then, and Covid forbade
the family their visits. They waited outside
the hospital, received news of the ventilator
and therapeutic hypothermia; three days later,
they were told to come, to say goodbye.
 
I’d spent my adolescence in that good man’s house,
best friends as I was with his daughter, Suzie.
We’d disturbed his sleep with slumber party antics,
hogged his woodsy-smelling hot tub, made a mess
in his kitchen, frying wontons. Once, inexplicably,
we hid a burnt burger patty in the utensil drawer.
 
He was a patient, forgiving man. I like to think
Joe wasn’t quite there for those tearful good-byes,
that he’d already quietly left us, the taste of good bourbon
on his tongue, the pleasure of a well-made pass,
the last thing on his mind.


* * * * *

Hayley Mitchell Haugen is a Professor of English at Ohio University Southern. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light from Main Street Rag (2018) is her first full-length poetry collection, and her chapbook, What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To is from Finishing Line Press (2016). Her latest chapbook, The Blue Wife Poems, is available from Kelsay Books (September 2022). She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. 
 

Monday, 3 October 2022

Blue Wife in the kitchen

                                                                   by Hayley Mitchell Haugen


only threw meat that one time
when the burgers burnt so badly
their black edges crumbled,
as gritty as tile grout. The smoke

alarm wailing, the toddler screeching,
she smashed the blue Fiestaware
on the countertop, sent those
over-grilled bastards rolling

across the stove. “God damn cooking,”
she cried, hurtling a charred disc
past her husband’s quiet shudder
in the dining room. She crumpled,

then, amongst the weight
of her ordinary domesticity:
the meal planning, the grocery shopping,
the cooking, the cleaning.

I hate those women, she thought,
the ones who make it look so easy,
who adore their Instant Pots and pin
recipes to their browser tabs, the ones

who don’t wilt a little every time
a child asks, “What’s for dinner?”
Her woes spilled over like last week’s
chili as the sun set beyond her kitchen

curtains. She hoped her family
might offer some comfort, a release
from her anxiety, but she knew
they looked on and saw only
her foolishness, knew

she would still have to feed them.


* * * * *

"Blue Wife in the kitchen" is part of Hayley Mitchell Haugen's new collection The Blue Wife Poems (Kelsay Books, September 2022).

Hayley Mitchell Haugen is a Professor of English at Ohio University Southern. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light from Main Street Rag (2018) is her first full-length poetry collection, and her chapbook, What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To is from Finishing Line Press (2016). Her latest chapbook, The Blue Wife Poems, is available from Kelsay Books (September 2022). She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. 


Sunday, 2 October 2022

Voices

by Linda Rhinehart


We talk past one another
Voices rings of smoke drifting into the twilight
Whose ends never quite meet
To form a circle;
You make patterns with your pipe
Mirages on the faded porch
And I trace your words
With the end of my cigarette
Teeth-ravaged, hard worn
Trying to see magic where there might be none


Saturday, 1 October 2022

Girlhood

by Marda Messick


I remember my girl body
the summer before eleven
when I loved horses
and mooned around the stable,
head full of the Black Stallion.

My secret desire
was for Ned to kiss Nancy Drew
in the next book.  

This was before I bled.
I knew about the blood
from a pamphlet with flowers,
and my mother packing 
pads like bandages
and the belt thing
in my camp trunk, just in case.

She would buy me a training bra
before the first day of school.

I remember my girl body
and the man in the barn. 
The dirty old man.
Manure and whiskey reek.
Mouthing my little breasts,
putting his finger in.

It didn’t occur to me to kick him
and run like the wind. Or tell.

Instead, I thought, 
really I thought, 
“Poor man he must be so lonely.”

Now, I think,
“The bastard must be so dead.”


* * * * *

Marda Messick is a poet and accidental theologian living in Tallahassee, FL, on land that is the ancestral territory of the Apalachee Nation. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Christian Century, Verse-Virtual, Delmarva Review, and other journals.  

Friday, 30 September 2022

 

ESTATE SALE

by Lorri Ventura


A cluster of dust-covered Hummels
Surround a Japanese puzzle box
Hand-knitted sweaters in toppling piles
Reek of cigarette smoke

Stacks of carnival glass dishware
Playfully cast prisms on faded walls
Dozens of boxes bulge with books
And sheet music

Sepia photos
With curled edges
Share unsmiling faces
Long gone

Crowds of barterers
Seek the adrenalin rush
They get from
Successful low-balling
For items they can resell
At a profit

Memory-triggering tchotchkes
More trash than treasure
Vestigial remains of a priceless life


* * * * *

Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator living in Massachusetts. She is new to poetry-writing. Her poems have been featured in several anthologies, in Red Eft Journal, and in Quabbin Quills.
She is a two-time winner of Writing In A Woman's Voice's Moon Prize.


Thursday, 29 September 2022

 

A CONGREGATE FAMILY SHELTER     

by Lorri Ventura
 

Signs taped on every windowsill
Reminders to please not toss
Dirty diapers out on the lawn
Toilet paper kept in locked cabinets
Permission required to access a roll
Eight families sharing one kitchen
A screaming match triggered by
A soup ladle's disappearance
Eleven children sniffle and sneeze
With a shared head cold
A little girl turns somersaults
On a graffiti-bedecked This End Up couch
As two toddlers, arms linked, share a lollipop
On a frayed carpet in front of a TV
Watching "Paw Patrol" at full volume
And a boy caped in a bath towel
Tears up and down the hallway
The world's cutest Superman
A young woman plants a bouquet
Of sleepy kisses
On her baby's head
Grease stains on her red Arby's apron
Nighttime descends
A mother forms a comma around her child
On the cot they share
And falls asleep
Dreaming of a world in which a full-time job
Stocking Walmart shelves
Pays enough for an apartment
And for selfhood


* * * * *

Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator living in Massachusetts. She is new to poetry-writing. Her poems have been featured in several anthologies, in Red Eft Journal, and in Quabbin Quills. She is a two-time winner of Writing In A Woman's Voice's Moon Prize.

 

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Guilty

by Vicki Iorio


The doctor says my daughter’s curved spine is pressing
on her heart

the way she pressed on mine when she was inside me.
10 years-old, sitting on the crinkly examination table
she looks at me like this is my fault.

I always blame everything on her father’s family.
The spear side—his sickly father, his crazy mother.

We don’t have scoliosis in our family,
my mother says when I tell her the diagnosis.

Until her bones fuse
my daughter wears a brace all through high school that
cages her like Scout in her Halloween ham costume.

My daughter’s doctor carries a Chanel bag
I promise my daughter I will buy her one
when her years of treatment are done, as if I can afford this luxury.

Bones fused, college bound with her Chanel bag,
I make a planter of the cage
to memorialize the curve.

At Kleinfeld’s while my daughter is being fitted for her wedding gown
Olga, the scary Russian seamstress, her mouth full of pins,
tells me my daughter is crooked.

My daughter, fairy tale princess in crystals and peau de soie
breaks my heart.


* * * * *

Vicki Iorio is the author of the poetry collections Poems from the Dirty Couch (Local Gems Press), Not Sorry (Alien Buddha Press), and the chapbooks Send Me a Letter (dancinggirlpress) and Something Fishy (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry has appeared in numerous print and on-line journals including The Painted Bride Quarterly, Rattle, poets respond online, The Fem Lit Magazine, and The American Journal of Poetry. Vicki is currently living in Florida, but her heart is in New York.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Protect Your Peace

by Vicki Iorio


My bike instructor says protect your peace
My head and legs are spinning
I have stopped watching the news
But the news stalks me
My daughter is afraid of getting pregnant
Her fears are grounded in the new Law of the Land
She is stunned by her lack of options
Protect your peace, my instructor whispers
Make it a moving meditation
At the climax of the ride
He shakes out his man-bun
I want to hide in his mane
Breathe in through the nose
Out through the mouth
I will protect my peace by re-building the Underground Railroad
Travel to foreign places—Texas, Louisiana, the American Midwest
 Breathe in through the nose
 Out through the mouth
 Transport women to safe places
 Places where woman can make their own decisions
 

  Inhale

  Exhale


* * * * *

Vicki Iorio is the author of the poetry collections Poems from the Dirty Couch (Local Gems Press), Not Sorry (Alien Buddha Press), and the chapbooks Send Me a Letter (dancinggirlpress) and Something Fishy (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry has appeared in numerous print and on-line journals including The Painted Bride Quarterly, Rattle, poets respond online, The Fem Lit Magazine, and The American Journal of Poetry. Vicki is currently living in Florida, but her heart is in New York.

Monday, 26 September 2022

 

Walking

by Melinda Coppola


At twelve, thirteen,
fourteen months,
when most children
begin to walk,
or make a show
of pulling their soft
wobbly bodies
to stand,

you were content
to sit and rub
the carpet, watch
the fibers grow fuzz
beneath hands
you didn’t seem to know
belonged to you.

A plump child you were,
with flesh-ringed legs
and arms,
at least three chins.

As you grew
stronger, my arms
did, too,
carrying you
room to room,
holding you
while you screamed
inconsolably,
and turned away
from others,

while you recoiled
at sights and sounds,
textures, certain clothes,
and any kind of shoe.

We didn’t know about autism,
not yet,
but I quickly learned
what brought you comfort.

When you were at peace
I could be, too.

I wonder
if you recall,
as I do,
when you were sixteen, eighteen,
twenty months
plopped on the grass,

making a study,
it seemed,
of the individual green blades,
your fat hands
brushing the tops of them
over and over,
your face some mix
of stern concentration
and happy fascination,

sweet reprieve from the screaming,
relief for my strong
but tired arms.

And still you grew,
and rebuffed
my attempts
to hold you up by the armpits,
sing walking songs
show you videos
of babies toddling happily
from toy to toy.

It was this,
the not walking,
that brought my questions
to doctors,
to Early Intervention,

that began the parade
of specialists and therapies
I never dreamed
would become our norm.

It was a blur in many ways,
that time,
but I recall when
you took your first,
tentative steps.

You were two
years two months,
finally ready
to trust your feet
against the hardness of the earth,

to step forward
into the blur of delight
and confusion
and newness
and noise.


* * * * *

Melinda Coppola writes from a messy desk in small town Massachusetts, where her four cats often monitor her progress. She delights in mothering her complicated, enchanting daughter who defies easy description. Melinda’s work has appeared in many fine books and publications, most recently One Art, Third Wednesday, and Anti-Heroin Chic.


Sunday, 25 September 2022

Sorry

by Melinda Coppola


A woman and her young daughter
walked by me, heading opposite,
on the narrow sidewalk
outside the Y this morning.

I’m sorry, Older She said,
in passing,
as women often do,
and though my mouth was silent
I wanted with all my heart to say

Please don’t apologize for taking up space.
If you want to regret anything,
be sorry for shrinking away,
making yourself small.
Anytime. Ever. You most of all,
a mother
to a daughter, will you please
lengthen, and widen. Stand up
and show your big glorious self

Spread your arms wide so
your daughter will see
how to fly.

My mouth stayed shut, though,
conscious as it was
about taking up room on my face.
and I thought, for the hundredth time,
the thousandth;
Those daily speaking engagements
Internally – thought,
Externally, conversation, 

are we not
often, or always,
speaking mostly, actually,
to ourselves?


* * * * *

Melinda Coppola writes from a messy desk in small town Massachusetts, where her four cats often monitor her progress. She delights in mothering her complicated, enchanting daughter who defies easy description. Melinda’s work has appeared in many fine books and publications, most recently One Art, Third Wednesday, and Anti-Heroin Chic.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Writing In A Woman's Voice is currently on equinox break until Sunday, September 25, 2022. Happy equinox, autumn or spring, to all of you. 

Saturday, 17 September 2022

THE LAST AFTERNOON SHADOW         

by Emily Black
           
    
     moves across newly mown grass
and seems to carry with it the end of
summer. Loneliness falls over me

and I long for the clover fields of my
childhood. The innocence and trust
we shared at this age was truly a gift,

a gift which disappeared into the jungles
of adolescence and didn’t resurface for
many years.

It returned like a peaceful rain that
washes away weariness of a world
in discord, a world I can’t change,

or so I think, but here it is again─
that feeling of fulfillment and pleasure,
new and bright as a shiny copper penny.

I need to go in. Night is falling. I must
leave these cool shadows of evening,
but I’ll take with me that shiny little coin,

that coin of promise,
a coin that will buy me happiness
and contentment.


* * * * *

Emily Black was the second woman to graduate from the University of Florida in Civil Engineering, then engaged in a long engineering career as the only woman in a sea of men. Lately, she’s been writing poetry, has been published in numerous literary journals, and was a recipient of the 79th Moon Prize awarded by Writing In A Woman’s Voice in 2021. Her first book of poetry, The Lemon Light of Morning, published by Bambaz Press, was released in February 2022 and is available on Amazon. Emily wears Fire Engine Red lipstick.



Friday, 16 September 2022

 

Rule Book

by Michelle Fulkerson


My values and morals
are pocket sized,
they can collapse into any form
to accommodate those around me.

I want to stand up
to voice my opinions
but if I do, they'll notice
that I've been sitting down
for a lifetime.

I want to stand up,
but my own shame 
keeps me silent,
bolts me to my seat.


* * * * *

"Rule Book" is from Michelle Fulkerson's collection I Am from Stargazing on Rooftops, edited posthumously by her mother, Julie Fulkerson (Cerasus Poetry, July 2022).

Michelle Fulkerson fought her way into the world at just 23 weeks gestation. Against the odds, she survived and thrived. Michelle loved reading, writing and music. She began writing poetry and short stories at age 12. Around that same time, Michelle began struggling with anorexia, anxiety, and depression. She kept a journal where she wrote with poignant honesty regarding her mental health struggles. Michelle wrote up until her suicide, just 4 months shy of her 18th birthday.




Thursday, 15 September 2022

I Am From

by Michelle Fulkerson


I am from photography, 
from lilac coated memories, sickly sweet
as donuts shared on Sunday mornings.
I am from hospitals, 
from breathing tubes, CAT scans and ER trips,
swamped by a grief that collects 
and collapses my soul under a blanket of fog
and miscounted calories.

I am from a prayer that
whispers softly in the darkest night,
“Please Lord, don't take this one away.”
I am from friends formed in ICU units
and the smell of mango shampoo,
from late night Skype sessions 
and we’ll meet one day texts, 
from chicken noodle soup and a vomit-soaked toilet bowl. 

I am from stargazing on rooftops and
vinyl records scattered across the floor,
from movie quotes, podcasts, books started at the age of five. 
I'm from love shown in words unspoken,
hugs and lullabies sung by Mom at my bedside,
from Fall Out Boy all the way to Tchaikovsky; 
this is the music I was raised on. 

I was fed a bright mind:
literature, history, geometry, algebra, chemistry,
notebooks ripped at the seams, 
as dead pens lay at my feet. 
I'm from hard work and determination, 
from a violent storm that still can't drown my spirit.
This is my culture.


* * * * *

"I Am From" is the title poem of Michelle Fulkerson's collection I Am from Stargazing on Rooftops, edited posthumously by her mother, Julie Fulkerson (Cerasus Poetry, July 2022).

Michelle Fulkerson fought her way into the world at just 23 weeks gestation. Against the odds, she survived and thrived. Michelle loved reading, writing and music. She began writing poetry and short stories at age 12. Around that same time, Michelle began struggling with anorexia, anxiety, and depression. She kept a journal where she wrote with poignant honesty regarding her mental health struggles. Michelle wrote up until her suicide, just 4 months shy of her 18th birthday.


Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Smitten

by Maryann Hurtt


my mother was crazy
about flea-bane
the tiny daisy but not really a daisy
flower I see on my hike today
it's end of July hot
and I wait for sweet berries
listen, all these pieces
do fit together
the way strawberries
the wild ones
picked themselves
into her palm
and the flea-bane
made her drop down
to caress their miniature lives
I believe she knew their language
small talk really
but her heart savvy
in the how and why and where



* * * * *

Now retired after working thirty years as a hospice RN, Maryann Hurtt listened to a thousand stories of resiliency, pain, joy, and sorrow. Her poetry reflects many of the stories. Verse-Virtual, Gyroscope Review, Moss Piglet, and Anti-Heroin Chic recently published her work. Once Upon a Tar Creek Mining for Voices (Turning Plow Press) came out 2021. Tar Creek has been called “the worst environmental disaster no one has heard of.” Hurtt is determined its legacy is remembered and heeded.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Home Front

by Maryann Hurtt


they wait on the porch to hear
two long   one short   one long
blast of whistles
the 6am passenger sends
her oldest to Korea

she clutches her late in life
(breasts leaking)
child close

the little one clings tighter
their heart beats
almost in tune
but the air is cold
and they wonder if they will ever
know warmth again

sixty years pass
the old woman hears
two long   one short   one long
whistles
stands on her porch
remembers
the click-clack
of the rails

the rhythm of their hearts


* * * * *

BIO: Now retired after working thirty years as a hospice RN, Maryann Hurtt listened to a thousand stories of resiliency, pain, joy, and sorrow. Her poetry reflects many of the stories. Verse-Virtual, Gyroscope Review, Moss Piglet, and Anti-Heroin Chic recently published her work. Once Upon a Tar Creek Mining for Voices (Turning Plow Press) came out 2021. Tar Creek has been called “the worst environmental disaster no one has heard of.” Hurtt is determined its legacy is remembered and heeded.

Monday, 12 September 2022

 

Disappearance

by Sarwa Azeez


You passed the glass doors
and gazed up at mannequins
standing with chins raised,
dead smile on their frozen lips,
eyes blind and faces dull.
Imagined goddesses of old,
draped in sparkling folds,
pleats cold and pure.

Through downturned mouth
Daya1 whispered in falsetto:
If you’re a good girl,
you can get one of those
when you grow up.

A decade passed,
the mannequins were nude and headless
but they found you a similar dress,
each ruffle freshly pressed.
When they placed it over your head
you disappeared.


1 Mom in Kurdish.


* * * * *

"Disappearance" was previously published in Sarwa Azeez's pamphlet Remote in 2019.

Sarwa Azeez completed an MA in English Literature at Leicester University in the UK in 2012. Growing up in wartime Kurdistan, the flickering light of kerosene lantern did not reduce her passion for reading and writing.
Sarwa is also a Fulbright alumni, got her second masters in Creative Writing from Nebraska-Lincoln University. Her debut poetry pamphlet collection, Remote, was published in the UK by 4Word in 2019.
Her writing looks for the beauty in a war-torn world. It also seeks to define identity and confront issues of equal gender representation and violence in male dominant communities.



Sunday, 11 September 2022

This month, an additional Moon Prize, the 103rd, goes to Joan Leotta's poem "Driving to Meet Him on a Foggy Morning"


Driving to Meet Him on a Foggy Morning

by Joan Leotta


I did not bring
my electronic
talking maps with me.
I thought I knew the way.
But while concentrating on
what will I say
when I arrive,
as I drive,
my mind wanders,
drifting in the mist
like my car.
I’m now questioning
the wisdom of
making this trip at all.
I fear I’ve missed
landmarks my friend
told me about,
markers to keep me
on the right road.
I begin to understand
that in making this drive,
I’ve become lost in the mist,
that my heart is as untrustworthy
as my sense of direction.
Yes, I am lost.


* * * * *

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her writings have appeared or are forthcoming, in Ekphrastic Review, Spillwords, 50 Words, Brass Bell, Verse Visual, Silver Birch, anti-heroin chic, Ovunquesiamo, Writing in a Woman's Voice, and othersShe's a 2021 Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, Feathers on Stone is coming out soon from Main Street Rag. As a performer she tells of food, family, strong women, and nature.


Saturday, 10 September 2022

 

On today's full moon, the 102nd Moon Prize goes to Melinda Coppola's poem "Slack Satori."


Slack Satori     

by Melinda Coppola


I never was an island hopper
jet setting from continent
to continent,
or even state to US state.

When I leave something,
I walk away slow,
dropping footprints
like breadcrumbs

for miles, just in case
some tender thing
wants to follow me,
coax me back
to a different view
of some well trodden path.

Plodding through a life this way,
one has time to take notes
of all the people and places
that seemed unperturbed
by one’s leaving.

Adding to the list of things
one never gets over:

being born,
being shamed
unrequited love

pets and people dying.

Giving birth,
divorce,
miscarriages.

Realizing you aren’t special,
then finally realizing
you are.


* * * * *

Melinda Coppola writes from a messy desk in small town Massachusetts, where her four cats often monitor her progress. She delights in mothering her complicated, enchanting daughter who defies easy description. Melinda’s work has appeared in many fine books and publications, most recently One Art, Third Wednesday, and Anti-Heroin Chic.

Friday, 9 September 2022

 

Ghazal: Woman at the Well

by Carolyne Wright


In this late season, who is the woman at the well
drawing water, reflecting on the woman at the well?

Millennial fissures in the well-rim, weed-choked cracks
where brackish water rises for the woman at the well.

At the bottom of the well shaft, the sky's reflective eye
opens, closes on the shadow of the woman at the well.

Where are the rains of bygone eras? Preterite weather
yields more rusted bucketsful for the woman at the well.

Ancestral well of Jacob, where a weary traveler rests,
where Jesus asks for water from the woman at the well.

Oh plane trees of Samaria, in whose shade a stranger
speaks of artesian fault lines to the woman at the well!

Chaldaean fountains, oases of date palms and minarets—
how they flourish in the dreams of the woman at the well!

Mirages of marble, pomegranate flowers, cedars of Baalbek
shimmer in the sight of the woman at the well.

On the night of destiny, the angel Gabriel descends
and hovers by the footprints of the woman at the well.

Jacob's ladder leans against the door of heaven—
on the bottom rung, the woman at the well.

Women of Sychar, women of Shechem! Draw aside your veils,
reveal the features of the woman at the well.

Wise ones, why do you weep? Do you fear your fate
tips a mirror toward the woman at the well?

Oh artisan of sorrow, mystery's precision, sit down
beside your sister, second self, the woman at the well.


In memoriam Agha Shahid Ali


* * * * *

"Ghazal: Woman at the Well"  previously appeared in This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Carolyne Wright

Carolyne Wright's latest books are Masquerade, a memoir in poetry (Lost Horse Press, 2021) and This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse, 2017), whose title poem received a Pushcart Prize and appeared in The Best American Poetry 2009. A Seattle native who has lived and taught all over the country, and on fellowships in Chile, Brazil, India and Bangladesh, she has 16 earlier books and anthologies of poetry, essays, and translation. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes, Carolyne has received NEA and 4Culture grants; she is currently in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, on a 2022-2023 Fulbright grant.



Thursday, 8 September 2022

KZ     

by Carolyne Wright


                        "Arbeit Macht Frei"
                                    —Motto over the entrance
                                    of every Nazi concentration camp


We walk in under the empty tower, snow
falling on barbed-wire nets where the bodies
of suicides hung for days. We follow signs
to the treeless square, where the scythe blade, hunger,
had its orders, and some lasted hours in the cold
when all-night roll calls were as long as winter.

We've come here deliberately in winter,
field stubble black against the glare of snow.
Our faces go colorless in wind, cold
the final sentence of their bodies
whose only identity by then was hunger.
The old gate with its hated grillework sign

walled off, we take snapshots to sign
and send home, to show we've done right by winter.
We've eaten nothing, to stand inside their hunger.
We count, recount crimes committed in snow—
those who sheltered their dying fellows' bodies
from the work details, the transport trains, the cold.

Before the afternoon is gone, the cold
goes deep, troops into surrendered land. Signs
direct us to one final site, where bodies
slid into brick-kiln furnaces all winter
or piled on iron stretchers in the snow
like a plague year's random harvest. What hunger

can we claim? Those who had no rest from hunger
stepped into the ovens, knowing already the cold
at the heart of the flame. They made no peace with snow.
For them no quiet midnight sign
from on high—what pilgrims seek at the bottom of winter—
only the ebbing measure of their lives. Their bodies

are shadows now, ashing the footprints of everybody
who walks here, ciphers carrying the place of hunger
for us, who journey so easily in winter.
Who is made free by the merciless work of cold?
What we repeat when we can't read the signs—
the story of our own tracks breaking off in snow.

Snow has covered the final account of their bodies
but we must learn the signs:  they hungered,
they were cold, and in Dachau it was always winter.


* * * * *

"KZ"  previously appeared in This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Carolyne Wright

Carolyne Wright's latest books are Masquerade, a memoir in poetry (Lost Horse Press, 2021) and This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse, 2017), whose title poem received a Pushcart Prize and appeared in The Best American Poetry 2009. A Seattle native who has lived and taught all over the country, and on fellowships in Chile, Brazil, India and Bangladesh, she has 16 earlier books and anthologies of poetry, essays, and translation. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes, Carolyne has received NEA and 4Culture grants; she is currently in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, on a 2022-2023 Fulbright grant.


Wednesday, 7 September 2022

City Birders

by Anita S. Pulier


Two red-tailed hawks size up
a narrow strip of park,
survey a sycamore,
test its arthritic branches,
decide it is close enough to perfect.

Above the city’s din
New Yorkers hear tiny chirps,
grab dusty binoculars,
rush into elevators,
descend from great heights,

stand shoulder to shoulder,
crane necks,
squint eyes,
point at sharp beaked chicks
pleading for food from swooping parents.

This park, where worms
and rats share turf crammed
with cigarette butts and candy wrappers,
now home to hungry begging babies,

and as this crowd of city dwellers stands watch,
a few patrol, pick up bits of debris,
carefully deposit each piece in the trash,
as though casting a vote.


* * * * *

Anita’s chapbooks Perfect Diet and The Lovely Mundane and Sounds of Morning and her books The Butchers Diamond and Toast  were published by Finishing Line Press. Her new book Paradise Reexamined is in press with Kelsay Books due out in 2023. Anita’s poems have appeared both online and in print in many journals and anthologies and she has been the featured poet on The Writers Almanac and Cultural Weekly.


Tuesday, 6 September 2022

 

Once

by Laura Davis Hays

Blackstone Island, Denmark 1928

I am mother of seven children, all but one left me, and wife to one old husband, still here. I have been married forever and always. There was never any before or after to ease the burden of this life I lead.

Once I waited with my father under God’s nose, and that was the beginning of it, the first moment I truly remember, when my life as I know it began. The minister fidgeted with his robes, his sour breath heaving in and out above us. The church was frigid, the old stones uneven and rocking under our knees. Beside me, my father seethed his impatience. I did not know if he would strike me again, but I wished it, for that would make the moment come alive with something other than my hot fear. We knelt there, waiting for Svend, his absence growing like a sinkhole in my heart. Above us, the minister clucked and sang under his breath, practicing some judgment he’d soon bellow out. I did not know if Svend would appear to marry me, as he’d promised, as he’d proposed. What I did know, as the moment grew into a lifetime, was that God was getting ready to deliver his curse upon me.

I am a slow thinker. I knew the curse was to be given, and that I deserved it, but I did not know how to escape it until this very moment. I knew only that God meant me to suffer. I have grown old and stupid from the suffering.

My husband’s absence that morning foretold more than his scant presence ever has. He is a man of few words who would do anything to escape his duties, a lazy man, a terrible man.

No, he is not a murderer, he is not a wife beater. He is a man who runs.

 

My second daughter, was born strong like me, a worker, an eater, and though she once followed a worthless man, she returned when he abused her to the brink of death. Alma lives with me now—she seems as old as I am—as does my crippled old husband who does not rise from his bed except to kiss a cow in his dreams.

The first child, named Louise after a famous Queen, was born frail and in the end, half-blind, kept to herself, reading her books, fairy stories and the heady thoughts of great men, and she is gone now. Gone to sit on the steps of some golden library. She described it to me once, saying it was the most marvelous place you could ever dream of, made of marble and gold and studded with jewels. Inside, away from the relentless sun, the volumes glowed and multiplied, with an eternity to read them.

I cannot read. I cannot write. What need have I for such foolishness?

My heaven will be one of endless banquets with servants wiping my chin, and always a pleasant companion to help me wile away the hours.

And then there is Peter. Who knows if he yet lives? A mother’s devotion, gone unnoticed, for he gobbled his dinner in a hurry to be off.  Only sixteen years old when he ran away to join the Bolsheviks. His careless goodbye assaults my good memory. Not even a word or a wave, just a nod as I cleared his plate.

Astrid, yes, the favored middle one, all imagination and selfishness, for Svend doted on her until she too deserted us for that wretch of a handsome man, and off they went, their trail no more than a cloud in the sky.

The fifth, Ingrid, named after my mother, was hard in coming. I near split with the bearing of her, and then her little stunted twin, Katya, named for my dead sister, popped out in a pool of seawater. These two crossed the water to become nurses in the great war, and once I got a letter from the both of them, which was read to me.

The last, Thor, was evil through and through, and he is dead to me.

 

This I remember.

I was baking one day, and my mother came in to help me. She was just starting on daft, and there was nothing much she could do and not ruin. She put her fingers into the dough, and they were dirty, so I had to give her the glob to eat in her corner. She was still strong enough to rise from her bed and smack her lips around the precious food she stole from the mouths of others.

Svend was in his barn milking, for I needed butter for my recipe, a recipe which many have praised and wanted for themselves, though I will not give it. Little Thor trailed after his father, who he loved like a dog loves his master. He did not love me in the same way, even as a child. He loved my food, that I know, but he did not love me. Thor listened to his father’s poison, and it took root and grew in him, so an ugly hatred reflected in his eyes whenever he looked upon me. He might hide behind a smile, but I could always see who ruled his heart.

That particular day it was warm for the summer was at its peak. The nights had come back and soon they would steal the heat and bring the winter cold. I was wearing a cotton dress, my old favorite from the years when I was pregnant, and I had let it out, filling the sides in with some curtains Svend found on a junk heap in Copenhagen. I loved that dress, because it told me just who I was and what I had been and what I had done.

Their voices stopped as they came into my kitchen.

“What was that?” I asked. “What were you saying about me?”

“Mama?” asked Thor. “Can I have a breakfast cake?”

“Did you already eat one?” I knew he had.

“No,” he said.

“Can you count?” I asked, pointing to the plate.

“One, two, three,” he said, lifting his little fingers.

“Four, Five, Six,” I answered. And then I was lost, for I cannot count either, not as much as a plate of cakes. But he had had one, that I knew from the sugar shine in his eyes, and the crumb on his collar.

“Give the boy a cake, Ka-aren,” said Svend.

I turned to see my husband, not old yet, but not young, either. A man with gray in his hair and a beard turned scraggly from lack of grooming. He had the smell of the barn about him, and perhaps that is what made him soft that day. He was like an animal, and he had said my name.

“Yes,” I said, meaning, yes, I am Ka-aren.

The boy snatched the cake and ran outside. Svend and I looked at each other, appraising, judging, shifting in our discomfort. The heat was high in the kitchen from the summer and the stove. I felt my fatness, and my dumbness. He was no better than I am, that I knew, had always known. But standing in the kitchen staring after our youngest child, my husband’s confusion only confounded me. He was weak and he was waiting for me to speak.

“Yes,” I repeated. “My name is Ka-aren.”

He has not repeated it, that slip of the tongue, oh, he would not give me that much. But I see it in his eyes as he lies dying this day, running to his final reward. He remembers who I am, and that is enough for me. I have found my own escape at last, one that will be the salvation of me, my solace against misery, and a shield against the curse I have carried most of my own life. It is my way to go on without him. It is a way to go back to before the beginning.

I have remembered my own name. Ka-aren. I was once called Ka-aren.

 

“Ka-aren, my mother called. Ka-aren, come inside.” She was standing at the door, her apron tucked up into the waistband because she was too short, or it was too long, and she was about her chores which required bending and climbing, and she did not want to trip. She had on a winter dress and boots, though it was a warm afternoon and she had been baking, so her face was flushed and her hair coming down at her ears. I was amazed as I looked back from my play in the mud, for she was like a picture. So pretty, so round and pink. Her dress was gray, and her apron white and stained with jam, and she was smiling. “Ka-aren,” she repeated, “come inside.”

So, I did. There in the kitchen was a plate of scones and the crabapple jam from the cellar, that we saved for Christmas. She had opened a jar this very afternoon, and there was butter too.

No one else was about.

Papa and Jach had gone out on the boat though the sea was rough and the ice still floating and separating and freezing back together in the evening, so as to make the return treacherous. Mama had fretted at their leaving, but now she’d seemed to forget all about them, for she was eating the scones one after the other, smeared with jam and butter, and she was encouraging me to do the same. “Will there be enough for Jach and Papa?” I asked. “Oh no,” she said smiling. “We are going to eat them all.”

“Why?” I asked.

“It is my name day.”

Mama was pretty and happy that afternoon, she had curly hair the color of bread and skin like milk, and her mouth was red from the jam. Those eyes, so blue, so merry, I could not resist her. So, we laughed and stuffed the food into our mouths. And laughed some more. The scones were sweet, and the hot butter rich and comforting, melting and running down our chins.

I ate the last of the sour jam with a spoon. After that I had a tummy ache, so I went to bed. I was asleep when they came back hungry and loud, and I got up to watch them eat. Mama fried some bacon, and they ate it with bread soaking up the grease and drank milk. There were no fish that night. “Why are you not eating, Ingrid?” my father asked. “I am not hungry,” she said, and I answered the same. She poured us each a little milk.

But Papa recognized the jam jar, which Mama had foolishly filled for herself, a pretty glass with the bubbly pattern on it—how she liked pretty things! “Where did that come from?” Papa asked. “Oh, I’ve had it in the cupboard since Christmas,” she replied. “I just thought I’d use it tonight to celebrate. Your safe return,” she added and curtseyed from her place near the washtub. “Then what is that?” he demanded. He snatched the glass away and reached his thick finger in to a lingering glob of jam in the bottom, still soft to the touch. He smelled, then tasted, yet there was no delight in his face. He found the crumbs next. They were on the floor, for she was a poor housekeeper, and perhaps she’d gone to sleep after our feast, like I had. He turned on me. “Ka-aren?”

What was I to say against the booming, the slapping, the threats, and the sniggering of my brother, but lie as long as I could, then resort to the truth? That we had eaten a whole plateful, a whole jar of jam, and saved none for the two of them. “Butter, was there butter too?” he asked.

“No,” I shook my head, no butter.

“Is this girl a liar, Ingrid? Ingrid!”

The two of them, freshly incensed from their battle with the sea that we learned about in the days to follow, their loss of not only their catch, but the net and lines as well, advanced upon us. My mother did not retreat, but I did. I hid behind her skirts and tugged at the white apron until it unraveled limply in my hands and fell to the floor.

After that night, Mama could not work as well as before until her arm healed, though it never did entirely. There was always a bump at the elbow that never straightened all the way. And she was changed too. She did not talk anymore of babies, even to replace the two she’d lost—the one dead, never right after almost a year at her breast, the second, my sister who’d married and gone away when she was pregnant and half-grown—and she was grim, not smiley. But she was still greedy, maybe more so than before. She became secretive in her eating. She did not share with me, so I began to resent her girth, her gnarled arm, her piggish appearance to which my father constantly referred. I did not carry such a physical wound. No. But I was shamed none-the-less. After that day, my father did not speak my name, only talked of getting rid of me, of the mouth to feed that he would one day be rid of, and even though I was only ten, I knew exactly what that meant.

I did not believe it would be any good to be married, even at that age.

 

You see how this all came to pass? I was running from that family, Svend running from his, so we came crashing together like two waves in the sea. For all those children I bore, I did not become a mother, rather a cook and a slave.

Not long after I was married, Father and Jach left together, and good riddance to them. So high and mighty that little Jach, though he was no better than me. That I knew even then. He is gone from my memory as though he never existed. My mother came to live with us, then, and so spoiled any chance I had with Svend. She settled into our little house with all her bulk, and from that day forward began to shrink.

I had little to give her, as I believed she did not deserve much from me. After all, she had married my father and birthed that mean brother and that scrawny sister of mine, and she had not much else to her credit. She was a force in our household. She sided with him when it suited her, and with me when it suited her, and she liked to remind us both of our duty and our debt. She did not care much for the children as they came one by one and two by two, though she was of some help. She had a way of taking a crying baby and squeezing and rocking it to sleep. She was aggressive in her rocking, so the chair sometimes tipped over sending her and baby sprawling. And she liked to tell them stories that weren’t true.

I remember once she had Peter in that chair. The twins were just born, and the little one so weak that I feared for her life at every turn. I was in the bed nursing them, one on each breast, and Peter was crying because he did not like to see me do it. He said I was like a dog. She had called him to her, and he’d climbed up into her lap, though he was already too big. The chair was still in the bedroom then, as were the babies, so I could watch her, and she could watch me with my dripping nipples.

Sometimes she called Peter Jach, and he would correct her, for he was a clever babe, clever with talking and with understanding his place.

“No Grand Mamma.” he would say. “I am Peter.”

She would come a bit out of her fog, the chair would stop for a moment, and she would smile at him with those pale eyes and wipe her mouth.

“I will tell you a story of Jach,” she would say.

“Once, when he was as little as you are, and your Mama was a very big girl, she gave him a snail to eat. The garden was full of them that year. Do you know what a snail is?”

Peter solemnly nodded, for he did not like to be caught out as stupid.

“Well,” she said, “a snail is a disgusting mouthful, and if you don’t cook it (who would) it can squirm around in your mouth and slither down your throat of its own will.”

“Ugh,” said Peter, just what she wanted him to say. But his eyes were shining with delight.

“Do you want to know what Jach did?”

Peter nodded.

“He pretended to eat it right up, and maybe he did too. And he convinced Ka-aren that it was the best thing in the world, so she went out into the mud and ate one herself. Of course she got sick and made a mess in her bed, so I had to punish her for it.”

This story was not true, except the last part. I did once mess the bed, and it was him, not her, who gave me the whipping.

But she wished it had been her, because she got meaner every day that was left to her, and she was less and less help. I had nothing to give her. I had only little Ingrid, her namesake, and she took that baby up like it was a cake to eat.

Long gone and good riddance, and the old man, my husband gone soon, too. The price of my freedom, his death. Was it worth it, all of it?

This, I will never know, I am sure.

What I do know, is that this day, perhaps his last in the world, I will go to him and once more gaze upon his face to see what he is.

I see the hallway, cold and white and wooden. I see the bed, white also, and the blowing curtains. I see the strange lights in the sky, for it is the endless day. I see his blue hand on the cover, his fingers scrunched in a gentle claw. I see his spotted brown arm, his bony shoulder, his withered neck. There is his mouth, parted to let out a single breath. There is his nose, flaring and beautiful. His eyes are closed, but I know them. Blue as the sky in his white face. He will not look upon me, this I know, so I am free to look upon him and imagine. I imagine his children waiting to be born, crowding together on the other side, each taking a feature from me or from him—those eyes, the nose, the skinny shoulders. A tendency to roundness. A disdain or a love for food. An upturned nose that some have described as piggy.

I look closer to see him squirming below the skin, dreaming with his whole face. I know that he is awake now, feigning sleep. But the fear is real. What would he have to fear from me? I think he would fear that I know him, that I know his cowardly soul. All the blows I delivered were not of consequence compared to that. Would he fear that I look upon him? Would he fear to look upon me and see what I have become?

Once, he did look. I was my prettiest then, and so young. I was meat in a market of flies. My father had said as much at the Friday meeting. “She is ready,” he declared in public. “She has bled this whole year.” He did not say that he beat me the first time when I stained my mattress so badly that he had to buy new straw to stuff it with. Well, my father was mean, and Jach was bad, so what did I expect of a boy soon to be a man?

Svend and I met at his special place, the place where he often took refuge. The place was a little cave in the black cliff at the end of our island and hard to get to except by a rope that he carried. Carved by ancient sea storms the cave is usually dry, except at the highest tide. I found him there and he let me, maybe even planned it. This is the sudden insight I have now as I watch him working it out. Svend was singing in the cave that I knew was his, that everyone knew was his. He was singing something out of tune, and I laughed at him and sang it right, and after his first shock he tugged on the anchored rope to test it, and invited me down. He let me share his perch and look out to sea with him. You can see the mainland from there on a not too foggy day. The sea was wavy and cold that day, but beautiful too. The mainland seemed so far away with its wreath of tall trees that came right to the water’s edge. We dreamed together that day and on many days, subsequent, and now we dream together this day.

My eyes are closed against the sun that streams through and blows the curtains this mid-summer day. The breeze brings the breaths to him one by one. He is dying one breath at a time. So I do him the courtesy and do not look again at him until he is done. Have I learned anything in my long life, my motherhood, my wifely compromises? Just this. To let him have his escape this one last time.


* * * * *

Laura Davis Hays lives in Santa Fe, NM with her husband and two cats where she works as an accounting consultant, writes fiction, and composes and performs music. Her first novel, Incarnation (2016), a past-life thriller, is set in Santa Fe, Belize, and antediluvian Atlantis. Laura is currently completing a collection of stories and novellas, and a related novel set on a fictional Danish island in the early part of the 20th century. Laura recently published stories in Fiction on the Web UK, Persimmon Tree, and The Centifictionist.

    

Monday, 5 September 2022

Morning Haiku on a Vacation in Maine

by Sally Cobau



Ocean’s roar as we
sleep in the sweet, white-sheeted
beds.  Sea moon’s glitter



Last night’s dappled moon
light, playfully on Ocean’s
waves surge this morning



I hear the kids’ light
footsteps, morning’s light grace, slugs’
glistening gold trails



The clink of a spoon
tiny compared to Ocean’s
vast, rolling temper



Hello, dear Vincent
Millay basked in the blue sea
nursed from a hard life



They said Grandpa was
a houseboy in the cottage
I see from shore…



What did I do to
deserve this beauty, this morn
some poets might ask



* * * * *

Sally Cobau is a writer/teacher/hiker/yoga practitioner from a tiny town in southwest Montana. She's had work published in the SunEkphrastic Review, rattle, Room magazine, and other journals. She also publishes photography and occasional poems on her Instagram account: sallycobau1. When she's not writing, she's hiking the wild mountains in her hometown. She also dreams of the ocean...

Sunday, 4 September 2022

 

Maine Haiku

by Sally Cobau


I used to think life
shimmered in one bold moment:
riding the moon’s tides

Now I want much less:
sea grass instead of sea glass,
mussels, purple, sand


* * * * *

Sally Cobau is a writer/teacher/hiker/yoga practitioner from a tiny town in southwest Montana. She's had work published in the Sun, Ekphrastic Review, rattle, Room magazine, and other journals. She also publishes photography and occasional poems on her Instagram account: sallycobau1. When she's not writing, she's hiking the wild mountains in her hometown. She also dreams of the ocean...

Saturday, 3 September 2022

Looking for Trust

by Angela Hoffman


I’ve been down this well worn path before
the one formed having been walked upon
one too many times. 
Cones, heavy on the pines are curled tight
swollen shut, wet, waiting for conditions just right for opening. 

Eyes full of tears, check off familiar landmarks.
No signs lead to an opening
just more of the same dark denials.

I’m looking for the field of Queen Anne’s Lace
not a single space of emptiness, just ordained crowns
of white, dancing on frail stems
in the sunlight they trust.


* * * * *

Angela Hoffman lives in Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and calendar, Agape Review, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, and Your Daily Poem.com. Her first chapbook (Resurrection Lily, Kelsay Books) is scheduled for release in 2022. She committed to writing a poem a day during the pandemic. Spirituality and nature often inspire her poetry. 

Friday, 2 September 2022

Democracy in Danger

by Angela Hoffman


The orange aphid, soft-bodied
cloning itself in masses, not even requiring a mate
sucks the life out of the milkweed, creating honeydew;
profuse excrement left on the leaves, shiny, sticky.
It chokes off the absorption of anything that will nourish the plant.
This rapidly reproducing bug, capable of growing wings
threatens to fly off, do it all over again. 
The Monarch butterfly that feeds on the milkweed
is now on the endangered list. 


* * * * *

Angela Hoffman lives in Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and calendar, Agape ReviewVerse-Virtual, Visual Verse, and Your Daily Poem.com. Her first chapbook (Resurrection Lily, Kelsay Books) is scheduled for release in 2022. She committed to writing a poem a day during the pandemic. Spirituality and nature often inspire her poetry. 

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Counterpoise

by Lynne Byler


It’s all September sunshine and wing-flash flight.
Through the porch screen I watch
the chickadees, indifferent to my presence,
the nose-down nuthatch on the dogwood trunk,
the busy northern flicker at the suet,
and the polite behavior of blue birds
beautiful and courtly at the birdbath.

I walk into the kitchen and
look out the window over the sink.
Where the forest begins, in the far-right corner of the yard,
a turkey vulture feasts on a five-day-dead porcupine.
In the dark shadow the bird is
flat-black-feathered and bright-red-beaked.

With mighty tugs, it hauls out the innards.
The ribcage peeks through.
The quills dance with maggot-movement.
A second turkey vulture sits all day in attendance.
Occasionally three more big black birds circle overhead.

One tableau to another – once it made me dizzy.
But I’ve learned to live in the whole house –
from screen porch to living room to kitchen –
from bright song to cortege.
I watch the death-cloud shroud the phoebe;
I listen to the chickadee drown the death-thrum of the carrion bird.


* * * * *

Lynne Byler spent her career working in learning and development for Fidelity Investments. Newly retired, she now volunteers at the Sheriff’s Office in Springfield, MA, tutoring students, many on parole, as they work toward their high school equivalency diploma. Once in a while she is struck by the occasion when a poem she writes seems to have a wisdom she lacks.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

 

The Cabin 

by Sandy Rochelle


I have a solitary cabin in the woods.
It is my soul.
Do not visit me there.
 
 
* * * * *
 
Sandy Rochelle is a widely published poet, actress and filmmaker. Many of her poems have been influenced by her son, David, who is autistic and deaf. Sandy hosted and narrated the PBS television series, 'On Our Own,' winning the President's Award. She is a Voting member of the Recording Academy and recipient of the  Autism Society of America's Literary Achievement Award. Publications include Verse Virtual, Writing in a Woman's Voice, Wild Word, Dissident Voice, Indelible, Poetic Sun, Trouvaille  Review, Every Day Writer, Black Poppy Review, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Impspired, Spillwords Press, Ekphrastic Review, and others.


Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Grappling With Gratitude

by Laurie Kuntz


A month after her brain surgery,
Greta met us in the Sawtooths,
and we shadowed behind her scrambling 
over boulders bordering the tree line.

When the wind whisked her hair away
from her downy brow, her scar was visible,
and you, her mother, keeping abreast on the trail,
grappled with altitude and gratitude for this daughter,
lean as a mountain vine, determined as sagebrush
growing on this sketchy track of mountain and world.

                                                                           Who to thank…

Doctors, prayer givers, kind strangers in hospital corridors,

or the daughter who believed, finally, in herself?

                                                                           Where is the marrow of gratitude?

Does it bellow like mountain echoes,
scatter like mariposa lilies in high altitudes,
                            
or just settle in the lines of this poem?


* * * * *

Laurie Kuntz is a widely published and an award winning poet. She’s been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net prize. She’s published two poetry collections (The Moon Over My Mother’s House, Finishing Line Press, Somewhere in the Telling, Mellen Press), and two chapbooks (Simple Gestures, Texas Review, Women at the Onsen, Blue Light Press). Her new chapbook, Talking Me off the Roof, is forthcoming from Kelsay Press in 2022. Recently retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. Visit her at: https://lauriekuntz.myportfolio.com
 › home-1


Monday, 29 August 2022

Poem at 3AM

by Laurie Kuntz


I know I will pay
tomorrow at noon
When I will be expected
to know the world
and its brightness.

It is then, when the day is tipsy
I will yearn to sleep,
but now when out my window,
and door and rooms,
people I love are tangled
in dreams, I am up and moving
in this star strained darkness.
 
Playing with grace and sorrow
bold in a bright starry dress the night’s
silence is a siren’s song
keeping me awake and typing.

I know I will pay tomorrow,
when my body aches and my mind wanders,
but sometimes words in their vestige of truth
come when the world is asleep,
and within their invincible power,
I feel nakedly alive,
awakened in first love.


* * * * *


Laurie Kuntz is a widely published and an award winning poet. She’s  been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net prize. She’s  published two poetry collections (The Moon Over My Mother’s House, Finishing Line Press, Somewhere in the Telling, Mellen Press),  and two chapbooks (Simple Gestures, Texas Review, Women at the Onsen, Blue Light Press).  Her new chapbook, Talking Me off the Roof, is forthcoming from Kelsay Press in 2022. Recently retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. Visit her at: https://lauriekuntz.myportfolio.com
 › home-1



Sunday, 28 August 2022

Moving On

by Nancy Machlis Rechtman


I pull up to the driveway
And the sight of the FOR SALE sign hits me
Like a physical blow
Despite the fact that it’s been there
All summer
But this time there is a blood-red banner
Blaring the words SOLD
Across the length of the sign
Like a poorly tuned trumpet
That sends my nerves into overdrive
And I want to cover my ears and scream.

I gingerly step over the broken stone path
That leads to the faded deck in the backyard
Hoping to find solace.
As I sink into the rickety folding chair
Where I am a supplicant
Begging the warmth of the sun to massage my soul
And bring me back to life.

Cheery congregations of flowers bob across the fence to welcome me
But I’ve erected a wall of protection that I’ve hidden behind
So that I could live in denial a little longer
While the surrounding yards fill with children’s laughter
As if life can still go on.
Soon there is an almost imperceptible breeze
That signals what is about to come
And when I look up through the kaleidoscope of the trees
Hovering above me
It’s impossible to escape the tinges of yellow
Unexpectedly mixed in with the verdant canopy
Like mosaic tiles
And I know that the palette
Will soon be the color of fire
Before catching the leaves in the flames
As they will swirl lifelessly to the ground
And all will be as empty
As a broken heart.

I force myself to push the door open and walk down the halls one more time
My footsteps echo jarringly through the barren rooms
Where the memories have now been claimed by the house
And I know that once I leave today
Nothing will ever belong to me again.

When I approach the well-worn entryway
There is one last creak of the boards beneath my feet.
I whisper good-bye
And the click of the key in the lock
Is like an electric shock
Now that autumn’s chill fills the air.


* * * * *

Nancy Machlis Rechtman has had poetry and short stories published in Your Daily Poem, The Bluebird Word, Grande Dame, Paper Dragon, Goat’s Milk, The Writing Disorder, Discretionary Love, and more. She wrote freelance Lifestyle stories for a local newspaper, and she was the copy editor for another paper She writes a blog called Inanities at
 
https://nancywriteon.wordpress.com.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Camden, Maine        

by Laura Foley

 
The winter loons find harbor here,
as do I, my child’s child
walking slowly with me down the street,
her tiny hand like an anchor in mine.
She bids hello to water,
to sunlight on the water,
to the river beneath the little bridge,
to the strange man passing—
who stops and waves, basking in her favor.
No one racing, this quiet Sunday morning—
except time’s thoroughbred waters,
galloping to the sea.


* * * * *

Laura Foley is the author of eight poetry collections. Everything We Need: Poems from El Camino was released, in winter 2022. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It's This is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry.
 
Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. 
www.laurafoley.net