Poetry Summer - 2009
Alicia Hoffman lives, writes and teaches in Rochester, New York. Her most recent poems can be found at DeComp, Orange Room Review, Oak Bend Review, DOGZPLOT, Willows Wept Review and elsewhere. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Retail is a Young Man's Game
The cash register transaction
is the clearest window to the soul
and sitting at that sill, I have yet
to grow at all accustomed
to the horrors I see, stark
and startling casual atrocities
dealt unto sister by brother
father to daughter, and especially
by mother to son; secret scars
given away by demands for price-checking,
lest she be taken for a fool
by some young male just once more in her life
This void of empathy stares long into me
as I stare long past you,
into your bill-filled wallet
while you count out $4.38, entirely in coins
The Pastor in the Family
The egg-shaped husband
of some second cousin,
he insisted he visit my newly
Although she was nonreligious,
he was determined to console
her with the solemn
power of Baptist prayer
Hands raised high over my
grandfather's death bed, his incantations
and proclamations were humored
like a likable salesman's spiel
He finished, dabbed at his brow
with a white handkerchief and started
a slow march to the front screen door,
stopping to offer me, college-bound, sage advice
"Beware professors who want to
teach you the proper method of cutting
and smoking marijuana leaves!"
He and his racist wife
lowered themselves into their
brand new cream-colored Cadillac
and took off down Pennsylvanian back roads
Chris Middleman grew up in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, has lived in Boston and now calls Seattle his home. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The New York Quarterly, Zygote in My Coffee, and The Orange Room Review. He is a regular contributor to Spectrum Culture.
Room to Room
There’s blood in the egg salad;
the skin of your palm, soft
enough for the egg’s
shell to slice. Frail as
Spring’s first sprout (she’ll
eat it anyway, until the inevitable…)
Waiting room—rows of chairs, vacant. Yellow-old blood stain covered—halfhearted
fake potted fern. You—in the corner—hands clenched to stop the tremble.
They call you in.
Inch thick foam, carefully laid
through your halls, pads
the purpled soles of your feet
that the wood would
bruise as you, delicate, shuffle
from room to room in your own home.
Draft blows down spine—couldn’t get gown’s back closed—exam table’s paper
scratches your ass. Doctor comes in—faceless—starched white lab
coat. “There’s blood in the culture. We’d like to do more tests.” There’s blood
in the culture…
You didn’t loose your hair at first,
but you weren’t surprised
when it finally fell out—it did
real to you, though—you
couldn’t pretend it away any longer.
Knuckles white. “It’s in your breast.”
You told your sisters. They made
a day of it—lunch
downtown, followed by an
afternoon of wig
shopping. You put on your
best face for them, laughed along,
and wore your parrot-hued
shawl as proudly as you
could. You stood out painfully in the
black-suit sea of Manhattan;
a rainbow badge of courage
that you hadn’t quite earned yet.
Andrew Tobia, a native of New York, began writing poetry 7 years ago in high school. He is a recent Suffolk University graduate, and currently lives and works in the Greater Boston Area."
Andrew Scott Dulberg
When my mom was a girl,
She decided that
She Had Had It Up To Here,
Grabbed her jacket,
One apple and
Four oreos and
Two hands into
Fled from the house
To the backyard
Between her mother's
Favorite lilac bushes—
Her protest picnic.
It did not take long, and then
There was nothing left,
And nothing to
Wash it down
And nobody to
Play with, so that
Thirsty and bored,
She pushed through the screen door
And returned to the living room
Where nothing was different
And her parents had not even
Noticed that she had run away.
Today We Fell in Love Again
Andrew Scott Dulberg
today we fell in love again—
probably your fault
or maybe it was too much sun
or that we swallowed so much salt…
we danced a slow dance on the beach,
we asked for two spoons with dessert
the dolphins in the distance dived
and surfaced, dived and surfaced.
Since declaring in first grade that he would be an author when he grew up, Andrew Scott Dulberg has not stopped writing. Winner of the University of Pennsylvania's Creative Writing Program Prize for Nonfiction, Drew has also published a legal article in the NYU Review of Law and Social Change. A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, Drew is honored to have his poetry published for the first time in Boston Literary Magazine.
The space between
my father's teeth
is where I find my parents,
still holding hands
the tracts between
home and Sunday
service, between Walmart
and the putting green.
This small dark gap
hides mindful memories
and ripping whistles,
always in tandem
with a crystal blue wink.
I see forty years,
a New York Niagara motel,
two little girls jumping
between queen beds,
1960's magic fingers
vibrating a quarter's worth
of jiggle giggles. Rather than
being parental, he stands
mid-mattress and bounces.
A 200 pound factory worker
on holiday surges
across the great divide.
He's released the behavior
gates and we converge
on some ageless plain
of limitless silliness.
Buoyant squeals, woven
notes and bed clothes,
baritone grunts, and the squeak
of worn springs. We sail
to the safety of each
mattress, crossing the grand
canyon, the snake pit, the river
of lava. Pink pajamas and a man
in striped boxers.
My mother, his wife,
the ever vigilant
keeper of perfect timing
is turning the key
in the turquoise door,
forcing light into the monkey
business, freezing the jungle.
The outside slams the box
spring; the magic fingers
tremble. We are trapped
in her gasp, held in the glare.
The wobbling bed, a tripod
for my father's coy gap
to collect the snapshot.
Rosemarie Sprouls is an adjunct professor of writing at Richard Stockton College of NJ. and a celtic harpist performing in the tri-state area. Her work has appeared in The Red Wheelbarrow Poets Anthology, South Jersey Underground, Identity Theory, Lunch, Lips, Stockpot, Rewrites, The Little Magazine, Muse Pie, Bear Swamp Road, and Junction. She has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, and also assists her husband, a freelance illustrator, in his studio.
The beads of sweat appeared on her forehead as it did on mine
Our bodies kept pace with a continuous rhythmic motion
I could feel the tension building in my loins and wondered if
She could be feeling the same sensation
It seem that the pounding would never stop and our panting grew
Stronger with every move
Finally as if by some cosmic timing we finish together and stepped
Off our treadmills
John Ricci is a semi-retired jeweler who lives in Pawtucket, RI. This piece is his first endeavor into the literary world, and he hopes to continue in this creative vein. Some of his ideas come to him while riding his motorcycle through the countryside.
The ward lies quiet in the early dawn,
Its patients tethered to their writing cords,
Content to blink and heave the silent yawn,
Too put upon for any spoken words.
I take my seat and wake you from your nap,
And hope you have me in your memory,
Though time has passed and others filled the gap
I left when duty called me far away.
A light shines bright behind your sleep-soaked eyes,
Encouraged by my gentle prods and shakes;
"Hello," I say in familiar reprise,
And you,despite your horrid pains and aches,
Allow me to indulge my every glint
Of fantasy before I press it: "Print."
Amanda is not a Nobel Peace Prize winner. She has not been to Japan, France, or Vienna. She is not trilingual, has not ridden in a hot air balloon, and has never seen the sun set over western shores. Amanda has, however, spent twenty years honing her writing skills so that she might someday do these things and write about them.
Steve Considers His Time in the Navy
Charles R. Hubbard
one morning standing in the yard
staring at his cracked foundation
that will be ten k to seal
suddenly the better times
were those under rock water
the zen thrumb of silent passage
periscoping his world into
and a distant shore
now it's just the noise of
an idle life spent spending days
tucked away in a suburban outpost
sometimes after work driving
the two hours to the coast
just to see her
Charles R. Hubbard lives in Vermont with his wife and a panoply of animals. He is currently hard at work on a novel set in Idaho. This is his first publication.
Not a harbinger
but just a crow
black as mourning
wear, and standing on a rock
in the dry kale pond,
at me intently
as I passed by
as if assessing
whether I might be a harbinger.
Joe Christensen is a writer, engineer and father living in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a relative new comer to writing. Joe Started writing in late 2007 and since that time has published short stories in various outlets, including Moonlit Path, Fear and Trembling The Birmingham Arts, The Beat, Aha, Atlas Poetica, Modern English Tanka, Glassfire, the Columbia Review of Columbia University, Houston Literary Review and several other publications as well. If asked, Joe describes his work in very basic terms. "My poetry is about simple, sound construction, strong imagery, reflecting real life, real emotions, and real dialogue."
The world is a borderless state,
or so you should tell yourself.
Create your own and begin
with a large ball of black twine,
unravel it with each step and
ask the helicopter to make a keep
sake, on a napkin, or the foggy
window out of which a hand waves.
Note to self: remember to always keep a red pen
and when the inevitable happens,
buy more string.
Kimberly Ruth is a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz where she studied photography and journalism. She plans to attend graduate school in the fall, where she will work towards an MFA in fine art. She is the author of one e-chapbook (Gold Wake Press) and has been published in a number of online journals including elimae, Ditch Poetry, and Silenced Press. You can view samples of her art at www.kiimberlyruth.blogspot.com.
The Morning Song
The morning song goes a lot like this,
First a sigh and then a wish,
And then a long eye opening stare,
While the where turns to there…
A professional artist and writer for over 20 years, CC. Long's work has appeared in Desire, The Driftwood Review, Flux, Chin, Exit Art, WhiteHot Magazine, The Village Voice, and The Thompkins Park Literary Review. Puget Sound: 15 Stories, A Collection of Short Stories was published by Pleasure Boat Studios in 2007. He's a columnist for Our Man In Manhattan, Flux magazine, Onion Soup, unChin magazine, and NYC Art Scene for Art Exit magazine, and a blogger for uppereast.com, Around The Block, followorion.com, My Outer Space, and instablog.com. He is currently being raised by his teenage daughter and dog….
The Other Side of the Bridge
since 1937 there have been more than 1,200 suicides
committed at the Golden Gate Bridge
in sky, boats buried
below, the wires a rib—
cage spread wide
the air the same
a marriage between
& the bay
at all hours fog
like a mumble
stuck in the breeze
their water & waves below
a memory cracked open
Anhvu Buchanan's poems has appeared or is forthcoming in 580 Split, Cream City Review, Transfer, and The William and Mary Review. He is currently a poet in the MFA program at San Francisco State and also co-curates The Living Room reading series with poet Ric Delia.
To Grandpa's Playboy Magazines
I snuck into the attic
on feet soft and pink like kitten paws.
You hid in a suffocating tomb called crawlspace.
Hot, stale air.
Bay windows breathed in horizontal morning light.
Dust gathered around my face.
with a whisper of a sigh,
happy to be of use.
My fingers walked across your glossy pages,
shivering in the heat,
like honeybees buzzing against ivy leaves.
I breathed with my eyes,
but listened for a creak on the steps.
My first memory of sweat,
like ocean spray on Miss July.
Jasper Hawker is a student of philosophy and writing at Slippery Rock University. His poetry has appeared in The Orange Room Review.
Van Gogh Sells His Drawings
Theo, a man can sit in the blazing sun
with a few tubes of paint
and a crust of bread
and work like a common laborer
and everyone thinks of him
wasting his life. Money
these days is the currency
of the heart in matters of love.
Money is the great leveler.
It is the cannon in the age
of knights. I clatter about
mumbling my heart's desires
when Kee and her parents
find my behavior foolish.
What is wrong with wearing
a painter's smock and working
as hard as any man with a trowel?
I lay my paints thick as mortar,
slapping them on with the precision
of a master brick worker.
Theo, I sell a few drawings
for a handful of guilders,
and the buyer acts as if he pities me,
the sell an act of charity. To hell
with charity. We admire the long hours
of study for a law exam, the student
heaped with praise. But the long hours
I spend trying to learn my craft
is seen as a waste of time.
Why are the sales of paintings
like my prospects for marriage?
Theo, are you trying? Are you embarrassed
by my efforts? I can only work harder.
I paint. That is what I do.
I have left Amsterdam and Kee behind.
I find calm in irises, the piles
of peat, the pink fizz of peaches.
Aside from women, is there anything
more fragrant than the air
after a rain?
Bob is a programmer living in California. He is a big fan of both the Rolling Stones and easy times. He dreams of retiring and living in a hammock. Recent work of his can be found at Eclectica, Chantarelle's Notebook, Mississippi Review, Thick with Conviction, Loch Raven Review and Pedestal Magazine. When he isn't napping he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What You Cannot See Until Later
Our first kiss reminded her
Luc, the first husband.
But that was not his name.
Her bra was the
it was the only mistake
she made all evening.
on the edge of the overstuffed
divan, what was she?
She had an original David,
it must be 1,000 years
After she fell asleep I left
right away. Driving home
thought about the source
of all desire. I wished to
in the white bower
The intermittent rain
could be described as cordial.
The sound on the
made me think of a radio
left to play all night.
I was late
for my last delivery,
the rain was to blame.
in the trunk
of my car
for two life sentences.
Bernard Henrie administered social service programs for 20 years in Los Angeles County before imposing his own exile to the Mojave Desert. He ventures out for art, movies and the best peach cobbler in California (the exact location he will share with poets and poetry lovers). Mark Doty selected his poem as second best for 2007 in the Interboard Poetry Competition (IBPC). His publication credits include MiPOesias, Shampoo, Sundance/Stirring and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. Four of his poems were included in The Wild Poetry Anthology and The Pirated Poetry Anthology published by Farfalla Press.
When You Were
When you were
inside of me
I could drink water, eat broccoli, go to bed early, take fewer classes, read books that made me happy, listen to rock and roll, work less, write more, and take you with me
When you were
inside of me
like I could
When you were born
Miranda Morley is a recent graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and a current graduate student at Purdue University Calumet, where she teaches writing. With a special interest in poetry, literary criticism, and politics and history, Miranda's work has been published in the Tipton Poetry Journal and In Other Words. She is also a featured contributor to the new web site Filterless.net. Miranda lives in Chesterton, Indiana with her husband and one-year-old daughter.
Where I Find Her
Malaika King Albrecht
She's in a bite of my Irish stew
and a sip of old coffee.
She's in my kitchen in her Self-portrait
with Phone in a cadmium red sweater.
She's hanging in my closet
in a favorite hand-me-down dress,
in the gardenia soap my sister gives me,
and in the curled M of my handwriting.
She's in the whippoorwill's call,
in the erratic flight of the woodpecker
from the longleaf pine to the oak
and its ghostly knock-knock-knock.
She's in the car that peels out
in front of me, so that I catch the license plate
with her name Patsride.
She's the stoplight that gives me a moment
to enjoy the roadside forsythia,
its yellow lack of restraint.
I find her in a brown speck in my eye,
the half moons of my nails, the slight gap
between my two front teeth.
She's everywhere, even my sleep
where she walks again. But she's not
in that body with its broken window
of a smile and its every day
Malaika King Albrecht's poems have been or are forthcoming in many literary magazines and anthologies, such as Kakalak: an Anthology of Carolina Poets, Pebble Lake Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Shampoo, New Orleans Review, and The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel - Second Floor. She has taught creative writing to sexual abuse/assault survivors and to addicts and alcoholics in therapy groups and also is a volunteer poet in local schools. Her manuscript "Spill" has been a finalist in several book contests. She is co-editor of Redheaded Stepchild, an online magazine that only accepts poems that have been rejected elsewhere.
Wolves are Pack Animals
Robert R. Falcione
There are times
when even a loner
needs a friend
At these times
the loner remembers
why he's alone
Robert R Falcione hails from North Reading, Massachusetts where he works for the family business as a certified Arborist and part-time as a sweater folder. This is his first time being published and is very uncomfortable about the fact that his bio contains more words than anything he's published.
You Stroked My Face
Remember Father, how here the sky at night falls smokily down,
a humid cloth of cloud settling over the city bowl,
reflecting the orange of the harbour lights?
In the garden on the hill, a fruit bat swoops into branches,
quick as a heartbeat,
elusive as an unanswered question.
There in the dark, we say goodbye, and the man I want more than I can say
kisses my face on both sides,
his stubble a near-absent graze against my cheek.
The stranger drives into the unknown, while, indoors,
I listen to the insistent repeat of tree frogs, and lay my restless son
down to sleep.
My fingers stroke love across his face.
I recollect the way you, my father, traced my forehead so,
when I was a child, with tenderness,
as when you held me during storms.
The smart of tears prickling like dry grass against a bare foot
for what came later, for what you did not do,
for the leaving, and the staying away.
Sarah Frost is 35 years old and a single mother to a five year old boy. She works as an editor for Juta Legalbrief in Durban, South Africa. She has been writing poetry for the past fourteen years. She has completed an MA in English Literature, and also a module on Creative Writing, through UKZN.