Issue #1 – June 2017

Sarah Henry

The Poet of the Future

My brother’s eyes
are clear green,
the shade of a Perrier
bottle in candlelight.

He says, “Pierre water.”
It’s his own invention.
My brother is the poet
of the future.

My weak eyes
fade to hazel—
the color of muddy
water with algae
floating on the top.

“Trees and bushies and
shrubs” ring his yard.
That’s what he says.

It’s totally impossible
to fly a plane
or parallel park
without depth perception.
I’ll take a train and
park at the mall.

Complications of ophthalmology
are “out of tune-ish”
to the poet of the future.

Now he’s offering
drinks and “swillage,”
as in, “Swillage, anyone?
Cheese and crackers!”

I’ve got glasses and
he’s got a dictionary
he never uses.

Sarah Henry studied with two U.S. Poet Laureates at the University of Virginia. Today she lives near Pittsburgh. Sarah’s poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Poetry Review and The Loyalhanna Review and many other publications, including Soundings East, The Hollins Critic, Circus, The Camel Saloon, Indiana Voice Journal and Whatever Our Souls. CheapPop and Donut Factory featured her humorous prose. Humor is very important to her.

James Croal Jackson

Stepdad Thanksgiving

By the first scoop
of potatoes
you have cut
half your head open.

Jump to the cobweb
by the pumpkin pie.
Spoon the spiders
out.

Super-creeper eggs
that hatch for everything
sit at the head
of the table.

Our Bodies Connected

locomotive

engines

steam whistle

caboose & freight

such carried

weight

steel-tracked

sigh & gasp &

moan

beneath

moon

beneath

morning

Transient

I need new faces
clothes drawers
opening
closing

I used to find
spacious greens
county lines
my hometown

I wandered
through the smells
of mom’s scrambled eggs

faucet running
disposal clogged
with garlic

understand
I want to be
a bullet train
memory

I’ll tell my future grandkids
stop moving
opposite
of me

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle and is a former winner of the William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at jimjakk.com.

Richard King Perkins II

Written in Skulls

You’re killing me with your near truths
as I ride a scavenger raft

beneath floral boughs and harvest drapery.

If you believe what you’re saying,
you’ll tell me a more complete story

written in skulls and splintered ruins.

For some reason,
when I see a movement out the window

I still expect to see you coming home

carrying creatures you found
along a sea-meets-jungle shore.

You’re expecting
the same occurrence in reverse;

for me to abandon my driftwood journey
and find you twirling in a backyard garden

for no good reason—

hovering above thistle and thorns,
waiting for me to admit

that you don’t defy gravity

it’s just something you choose to ignore.

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

 

William Doreski

Belmont Noir

Suburban dusk obscures detail.
Joggers dimple the path around
the reservoir. They toughen
their faces to hide the empathy
that requires a friendly nod.

Being old and out-of-town,
I move too slowly to matter.
Unobserved, I catch the gloom
in my hands and knead it like clay,
knead and sculpt it into figures

that I sprinkle in the grass
to hex that local arrogance.
Earlier in a room of strangers
I rose and spoke and felt myself
detach in the shyest tones,

although I rendered myself
loud enough to hear in the back
where someone awoke with a start.
Later I accepted a cookie
and bottled water, rather

like a horse after losing a race.
Now as one famous distance
piles over another I slot
my hands in my pockets,
descend the steps by the pump house,

and slink away under the trees.
Too dark now for art to cling
to the soft part of the conscience.
The joggers swerve homeward,
having tired themselves enough

to avoid sex with their spouses.
The underground reservoir sighs
molten little sighs no sinner
can hear. The water supply’s safe
for now, but surely it’s plotting.

First Marriage

When cockroaches shouldered us
from our top-floor apartment
and herded us to the harbor
and invited us to jump in
and drown, you laughed and shook me
back to sanity. Your earrings,
dashes of gold and pearl,
dangled like forbidden fruit.
Your makeup smeared like abstract
expressionism, the workday
shining through the dusty window.

That was the year of the stolen
cookware, of fiery footsteps
in the Granary Burial Ground.
One day the buses stopped running
and gangs stabbed homeless men sleeping
on the Common. The roaches
weren’t wholly creatures of dream.
Sometimes as I developed prints
in my makeshift darkroom they stomped
into the chemical baths and swam
with cheerful strokes, bathing themselves
in toxins that would fell a horse.
You hated their ghostly spoor
and despised me for failing to pluck
with tweezers every last one
and flushing them into the sewers.

Meanwhile at my office job
the anger stuck to the ceiling
like a smear from a food fight.
No one else noticed, but sighs
precipitated little rainstorms,
and when I went home at dusk
the cockroaches would applaud.
Then grisly with the morning’s rouge
you greeted me with tiny sounds
metallic enough to bleed me
of everything that makes a man.

William Doreski is a Professor of English at Keene State College whose work has been published in various electronic and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).

 

Thomas Zimmerman

Magpie

I drink a strong, delicious beer called Doom.
It’s just my nature. Made small-talk today
with a pretty neighbor. A bird had pooped
on the siding under the eaves at the front
of her house. “Strange,” she said. And I: “Well, I
don’t think most birds have sphincters.” Brilliant. I’m
too numb to call on ancient Greece for help
as Mandelstam so sufferingly does,
or gauze eroticism in Impressionistic
mist like poor lust-torn Verlaine. God love
them both. No, I’m a walking hairy bag
of water. A magpie, I must pilfer from
the richer. “You’ve been warned,” an old man says
to me in a dream. We’re under a roof
in a thunderstorm. “Tell me a story, or turn back.”

Thomas Zimmerman teaches English and directs the Writing Center at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also edits The Big Windows Review. Tom’s website: https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com

Ian Stuart

Sea cave

Where the waves have worn
a ragged gash into the cliff.

You can get there at low tide,
feel the sand sink
under your feet, climb rocks
slimed with weed.

Inside, gravel rasps under each step,
sunlight, ambered by the cracked sky,
dribbles down broken strata
to glimmer on the pool beneath.

They find bones here, sometimes – skulls
split like broken eggs
and chipped flints, light as leaves,
yet sharp enough to slice a vein
or scrape a fleece.

The half dark smells of wrack
and sulphur, seep and rot

the slow stink of creation

I like poetry which is challenging without being pretentious, popular without being trite – and that’s the kind of poetry I try to write. I live with my wife, two cats and one dog in a small burrow just outside the city walls of York.

Kevin Casey

Flycatcher in a Three-Bay Barn

The kindly reaper has rolled aside the door,
wheels rumbling along its rusted track.

He waits, wiping his brow with a kerchief,
the setting sun showing the way behind him.

But stubborn and afraid, the barn-trapped bird
flies from window to window along the barn’s

north wall, struggling and thrashing
in the cool darkness, whisking hay dust

from the panes in its panic, the blue sky beyond
more clear from this stirring, but no closer.

Kevin Casey is the author of And Waking… (Bottom Dog Press, 2016), and American Lotus (Glass Lyre Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize. His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Connotation Press, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column ‘American Life in Poetry.’ For more, visit andwaking.com

Gale Acuff

Odds

In Sunday School today I took a vow
not to believe in God anymore ’til
Miss Hooker, my teacher, tells me she loves
me and will wait as long as it takes for
me to grow old enough to marry her,
I’m 10 now to her 25 and that’s
what God has to do if He wants me to
adore Him the way I once did, I mean
before I got old enough for romance,
not that I’m old enough now but I’m old
enough at least to know that I’m not, that
my body might not be but my heart or
maybe it’s my soul sometimes gets a little
out in front of the rest of me, sometimes
my body has it all over my soul.
But I don’t have a whole lot of patience
whatever the truth is for me, whether
it’s religion or psychology or
some of both and something other besides,
maybe to take the measure of God since
His trying to measure me should depend
on what He can come across with, not that
He’s never given me anything but
most of that He gave me before I was
born or at least when I was younger and
love was meant for my folks and my dog and
assorted favorite toys, and then there’s
God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost, but
my love grew, like they sing in songs it does, it
grew for people I’m not related to,
girls in particular, women as well,
that’s where Miss Hooker comes in and before
anyone objects that just my body
makes such love I’m certainly willing to
love her on a spiritual level,
Miss Hooker that is, but without kissing
it’ll just be God all over again,
Man does not live by bread alone but it
helps and she’ll be more like manna and so
if God grants me, and I really mean us,
a miracle, then I’ll love Him better
than He could hope but not before, after
all, in just a few years He’ll be lucky
if I believe in Him at all–I told
Miss Hooker all this after class today,
well, not the part about how much I love
her–but she wasn’t really happy to
hear me say that God’s going to have to
give me what I want or I’ll reject Him,
It’s a lot like blasphemy, she says, though
I’m sure that there are some girls out there who
would be fascinated with a man who
takes romance so seriously. So I
asked Miss Hooker if she was one of ’em
and she blushed and blushed, if I’d had a brush
I could’ve dipped it into her face and
commenced painting the broad side of a barn.
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, she said
and God said it, too, I’m pretty sure first,
and He never dies and Miss Hooker will
and so will I. So it’s two against One.

Be Ye Therefore Perfect

Miss Hooker should be the Daughter of God
the same way that Jesus is the Son of
God, she’s my Sunday School teacher although
she’s not been crucified, at least not yet,
for my sins or maybe although she’s not
hanging and wearing a towel and being
poked by Roman soldiers and otherwise
humiliated she’d do it for me
and my classmates to save us from death so
that is we believe in her, and God, too,
then we’d get eternal life in Heaven
for our souls once we’ve expired and is she
perfect, perfect like Jesus was? Who was
around then who’s still around now who saw
Him? But even Miss Hooker, bless her heart,
says that Jesus was, perfect I mean, and
she’d be the last to call herself that and
after Sunday School class today I told
Miss Hooker how I feel about her, how
she’s perfect, or damned-near, but of course
didn’t say damned and didn’t mention how
in my soul somewhere she’s nailed to a cross
in her almost complete nakedness and
bleeding and moaning, Father, forgive Gale
–he’s only ten years old and if grown-ups
didn’t know what they were doing way back
when, he sure as Hell doesn’t know what he’s
doing now. I left out that part, the good
part, or I guess it’s good, if it’s bad then
the good that will come will overwhelm it.
Then Miss Hooker told me something about
idolatry, which makes sense and makes me
want to marry her, no crucifixion
required. I mean it could be me up there.

Blink

Miss Hooker says the Bible is the word
of God and can never lie and makes no
errors but after class this morning I
told her that we all make mistakes. Even
God, she asked, thought it wasn’t a question
truly. Especially God, I said, which
sounded like it came from a movie but
anyway Miss Hooker turned as white as
the Holy Ghost–I made that one up, too
–and had to sit down while she stared at me
as if she’d never blink again and for
a few seconds there I though she wouldn’t
but I snapped my fingers in front of her
face, just a few inches from her nose, she
focused on them, my middle finger and
m thumb, I mean, and that brought her to life
again. Then she said in a trembly voice
Gale, I don’t know whether to throw you out
of here or embrace you until I squeeze
the demon out of you. I was going
to support the second but she beat me
with Let us pray, so we did, or she did,
to tell the truth about it, Miss Hooker
did all of it, in fact, though my Amen
easily drowned hers out, which must count for
something. How do you feel now, Gale, she asked.
Not bad for ten years old, I answered–it
must’ve been Miss Hooker with her eyes closed
and her guard down, her head as well, and her
hands on my shoulders, I’ll have muscles there
someday, and in other places, I hope.
Of course none of this is in the Bible
but it sure as Hell ought to be,say in
The Book of Miss Hooker–make that The Book
of Gale. That way you’d know it for gospel.

Day One

In Sunday School this morning the lesson
was about Moses parting the Red Sea,
he had some help, it was God Who did it
but you never see Him in the Bible
or on TV or in the movies,He
gets things done by having people do them
unless Jesus is there, Miss Hooker says,
she’s our teacher, Jesus is God in man
she says and I think the Bible does, too,
so I raised my hand at the end of class
and asked Miss Hooker if Jesus was with
Moses on the day he parted the Red
Sea and crossed it and then on the other
side had it splash all together again when
Pharaoh and his charioteers pursued
them but then she said it was time to go
so she freed us for another seven
days, or is it six, it’s no wonder that
I’m flunking third grade, but I hung around
to get an answer from her, Miss Hooker
I mean, I mean it was a damned good
question if I do say so myself but
I’m not puffed up with pride, I just want to
know what’s what because one day I’m going
to croak and for all I know to get by
St. Peter I’ll need the answer, so while
Miss Hooker was stuffing her Sunday School
stuff back into her pocketbook, Bible
included, I cleared my throat to get her
attention, which I did, and she said, Gale
the Son has always been with the Father,
from day one, she was nervous, I don’t know
why, and dropped her hymnbook, which I picked up
for her and she crammed in her pocketbook
but it’s church-property, so it’s as if
she stole it, stealing’s a sin, but I can
keep secrets, God knows anyway and
so does Jesus. I wonder if Moses
knows that she accidentally swiped it,
if it was an accident, but of course
I couldn’t ask Miss Hooker so maybe
I’ll ask Preacher or just wait ’til I’m dead
and in Heaven but if I’m in Hell then
Satan–there’s nothing that he doesn’t know.

 

I have had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe Review, Worcester Review, Mary land Poetry Review, Arkansas Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

I have taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Robert Beveridge

Casino Dealer

I watched the girl
with the wooden peg in her back
eat crackers
and forge checks
in a pawnshop in Paris

she went home
and hooked herself
to the World exercise machine

within a week she was dead

the pawnshop
sold the exercise machine
body and all
to reclaim their money

Twilight, Asleep

It is time to wake, to work.
To sit and watch the monitors,
ensure
no unauthorized vampires
prowl the halls of the chemical plant.
You outgrew the uniform
years ago, prefer now to wear
your holster under a polyester
plaid sport jacket. You were never sure why
you paid extra for silver hollow-points
but you did your first day
on the job, and have since.
Call it superstition. The vampires
have never gotten you.

 
Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Borrowed Solace, Dodging the Rain, and Twyckenham Notes, among others.

Patrick Deeley

Slimmage

I never got around to gathering
the words up, those
oddball words funny-sounding
on my tongue – ‘muggins’

come to mimic its own simpleton;
‘froufrou’ the rustle
of a ballroom gown; ‘mouldy warp’
the old-named mole;

but one word at least, lifted
from a lost lexicon, makes it back:
‘slimmage’, born beloved
of the rain, first coinage I drew

out of living – though
the sensation he suffered: salt sting,
heat muddle, passed
beyond my telling as he shrank

in my palm until little more
than a gob of milk curdle;
nor could I sympathize with his
predicament, only set him

down to graze on a lettuce leaf
after he had slipped
through a crack in the kitchen door,
only guess his slow progress

by the dawn-lit glister he left
along a stone floor,
and the place where I housed him –
a matchbox – escaped from.

The Antiquary’s Catalogue

This an original black buckram with red and gilt lozenge
on upper board, this with chipped spine, this with spine
mellowed, the joints of this a little rubbed, this unnumbered
in a flipcase, this unbound, this in white pigskin, this
in half-speckled calf, this attacked by ‘worms, rats or fungus’,
this with sketches mounted at large, this with foxing
in the text, this a near fine scarce complete run of issues.

Patrick Deeley is from Galway, in the west of Ireland. He has published six collections of poems with Dedalus Press, the latest being ‘Groundswell: New and Selected’. His critically acclaimed memoir, ‘The Hurley Maker’s Son’, appeared from Transworld in 2016.

Susan L. Leary

 

The Poem

Tomorrow you will be getting married,
and if you love this person, I imagine it will be something of the joy
I find in reading that one poem—
and forgetting it’s mine,
believing, rather, that someone, someone I
can never know, sent this poem to me
as a handwritten note,
because those words, I need
to receive them without that self-consciousness,
without comparison to the original,
and even though it’s a sad poem—as being young
was hard for you—
there is something in experiencing that poem
exactly as it is,
as I could only have wished to think it, without effort
or concentration, like an epiphany
except that no part feels, contrastingly, new,
because there is a kind of innocence
in misremembering,
in having no recollection of what happens
afterwards, no faint notion
that perhaps, this time, the feeling might be sustained,
as there is only thrilling delight in knowing
this poem exists at all,
yes, I think that is love—before I realize it’s mine,
and then everything is ruined.
 
Susan L. Leary is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her most recent creative work appears or is forthcoming in Clear Poetry, Steel Toe Review, The Copperfield Review, Antiphon, Gyroscope Review, Dying Dahlia Review, The Big Windows Review, After the Pause, and elsewhere.