Mrs. Noah's Bitch - Richard H. Fox
Dad Says Grace - Richard H. Fox
Sleeping Beauty - David Adès
Tewksbury Mental Hospital - Elaine Moynahan
Cook Books - Oleh Lysiak
Blinds Darkness - Oleh Lysiak
How we too haven’t stayed young… - Rena Lee
There's a Slow Leak in Me - Danny Earl Simmons
I Told Her, “It Must Feel like a Curse Sometimes,” and She Looked Back to Say, “It’s Really Bad When I Work It” - Danny Earl Simmons
Buttons - Ralph Womer, Jr.
Soldering - Ralph Womer, Jr.
Toy Soldiers - Michael A. Wells
Man from Mars - Doug Mathewson
Beefeater - Michael Holme
Pot - Amye Archer
Vagabond - Lauren T. Yates
Lost Anthem - Richard Schnap
Rehobeth - Laura Rodley
Sweet Peas from Last Summer - Kellie Wardman
Two Mutts - Kellie Wardman
The Gift - Corey Cook
I See My Father
I see my father squat, reach out
to catch my baby brother,
who stumbles across the room,
learning to walk.
I see my father pause, one boot off,
listening to my mother play the piano
and sing “You are my Sunshine”
because she knows he is there.
I see my father ride a galloping horse
along a ridge of wheat stubble,
his body so still in the saddle
he seems to be part of the horse.
I see my father stroll, a white-haired acrobat,
across a wooden plank
between the rims of hollow grain bins,
the year we got no rain.
I see my father kneel, forty years later,
at the edge of a plowed field,
rub soil between his thumb and fingers,
waiting for my brother,
who is dying of cancer,
to join him so they can decide
when to seed.
Martin McCaw lives in Walla Walla, Washington. His fiction has won the United Kingdom's Global Short Story Competition and second prize in the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction. He is working hard to avoid finishing a novel.
Mrs. Noah's Bitch
- for Jane Ellen Ibur Richard Fox
I had an in on this ark
Mrs. Noah raised me from a puppy
feeds me morsels from her fingers
cuddles me to her breasts for sleep
she doesn't mind I'm home for fleas,
ticks, worms, mites, unnamed parasites
they won't breed until we walk on land
I thought my job was to whelp puppies
Noah's dog is sergeant-at-fangs
his post, sever the food chain
mark limits by lifting a leg
guard his master's door at night
before the ark, I had a mate-to-be
who licked my snout, rolled in puddles
we chased in Mrs. Noah’s pasture
dug dirt, he let me have the bones
now my mate-to-be rots in the flood
I imagine him paddling after me
until his paws could no longer churn
who sentences the gentle to drown?
Noah’s dog will bend to mount me
he’ll bite my neck, bleed my nose
pups will suckle, romp tails-a-wag
until their stud teaches them to kill
woman and bitch birth new generations
Mrs. Noah and I see foam on the sea
the best favor we offer Mother
change course, embrace the currents
Dad Says Grace
- For Melvin Fox on his 90th birthda Richard Fox
gathered in the whipple waiting room
we trade tales of Dad
flashlight flush to chin flame cheeks he follows us
we giggle slow to be caught raised to the ceiling
hair blown back around bald spot motoring the convertible
brother-sister-brother bounce on back seat
rain falls top stays down takes Einstein to raise it
three generations of progeny learn to crow
My name is Yon Yohnson, I come from Wisconsin, I work
by the lumber mill there in the same off key cacophony
Mom stops pacing calls the nurse hears laughter in the OR asks
What's the delay?
nurse replies Have to wait to stabilize his blood levels.
Meanwhile he's telling us joke after joke.
I drive Dad into Boston today is liver biopsy day
a long needle in the abdomen while the patient is awake
Dad asks to stop for coffee for Mom & me
comments on steel sky orange leaves wispy clouds
asks if I remember the foliage train into Vermont
wonders where we should eat on the ride home
Dad is bedridden
weighs less than homecoming from Guam
he smiles when I walk into his room
I tell him I have cancer
he asks What can I do?
Richard H. Fox was born and bred in Worcester MA. He attended Webster University, as much artist colony as college, in the early 1970's. These diverse cultures shaped his world view and love of words. He has been published numerous journals including Fat City Review, Sahara, twist, Midstream Magazine, Concrete Wolf, and Soul-Lit. For the past year, many of his poems have focused on cancer from the patient's point of view drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. Richard seconds Stanley Kunitz' motion that people in Worcester are "provoked to poetry."
Perhaps, with the instinct of a child,
with the latent compassion
of the woman she may still
one day become, she senses
my hesitancy, my unease at entering
the circle of the sick and their carers.
She lets me interrupt her play
with the play co-ordinator
and the other hospital children,
acquiescing in that polite, well-mannered
way that some children have:
Yes, you can read me a story.
I sit at the table, low to the floor
in a child’s chair, and one by one,
show her the books. She chooses
Sleeping Beauty and I read,
filling my voice with intonation,
with the shifts and movements
of drama, from dismay and despair
to wonder and joy. She sits quiet
and still as the story unfolds,
mostly attentive, yet when it ends,
it seems not to have been enough:
as if she has been doing me a favour
from which she can now be released.
I want to pluck at her imagination,
so I say: What I don’t get is how come,
if everyone in the castle was asleep
for so many years, they weren’t
starving when they woke up.
She considers this for a moment,
serious, wispy blonde remnants
of hair peeking out from under her cap,
fairy-tale blue-eyed gaze direct, appraising,
and decides that I deserve the truth:
It’s only make believe, she says.
David Adès is an Australian poet currently living in Pittsburgh. He has published widely in both Australia and the U.S. with poems recently appearing or forthcoming in
Tewksbury Mental Hospital
We leave our car keys in the scratched
metal bowl along with anything else
"dangerous" : pens, glasses,
memories of a little girl with big green eyes.
We sign in as outsiders,
aliens from that other world
of white lilacs on the kitchen table,
just-cut grass on the tips of shoes,
sun, wind, rain on our faces.
The triple-locked doors open
to the smell of antiseptic
and mashed potatoes. Afterwards,
we hand the faded badges in, walk
through the ornate gate past beds
of orange and yellow marigolds
that do not tell the truth about this day.
Elaine is an American poet emerging at the age of 74. She graduated from Trinity College in D.C. in 1959, married and is the mother of nine children. Upon retirement, she began writing and in addition to winning the Hoosac River Poetry Contest, she has poems published or forthcoming in Spindrift, The North Adams Transcript , Off the Coast, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, Rise Forms, Avocet, Storm Cellar, Wilderness House Literary Review and Boston Literary Magazine.
Larry prefaces his stories with
”to make a long story short”
and rambles on anything but.
He packed an M14 in Vietnam,
a non-com appreciative of what
the 14’s business end did to keep
him alive. Forty years later Larry
defends the Second Amendment,
but a quadruple bypass and nearly
eight decades slow him down some.
He has a concealed weapons permit,
packs a stainless .38 Smith & Wesson
in a self-styled attempt at geezer dignity,
a serious man who lives in a trailer with
two cats he loves. We’re discussing garlic
cloves stuffed in pot roast when Larry
says he read nothing but gun books for
decades but he reads only cook books now.
Van Horn NPR plays Mozart’s “Requiem”,
he cranks the volume up. Chorus kicks in.
Rain pelts his hangover through the open
sunroof, thunder reverberates along West
Texas hills, lightning crackle blinds darkness.
He stops the car, works his wedding ring off
and throws it into the desert. No turning back.
Thumb seeks the familiar gold band, finds pale
skin which hasn't seen sun in over a decade.
Oleh Lysiak is author of Art, Crime & Lithium, Barely Inside The Lines, Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid In The American Zoo, Scars In Progress, Geezer Rumba.
How we too haven’t stayed young…
In spite of all the precautions, prescriptions,
“anti-age” products, and the like…
Creepy wrinkles here, silvery threads there,
an ominous new change in an old mirror.
Youth, so vigorous and glorious, crumbled
in the fragile hands of the old woman
who calmly assumed her rights
as she took her seat on the bus or train.
Of course we should’ve anticipated this.
We’re no fools. We know what happens
at all times to all people just like us…
Yet somehow, in secret, we kept holding
to the hope that the fate of others will
somehow let us off the hook—
(A mighty winged horse with savior
on top arriving at the very last sec
when the noose is already round the neck ?)
How we too haven’t stayed young…
Although trying hard to cling to some fuzzy
distinction between us and others.
Who are we, after all, if not the others
of the others ??
Rena Lee, penname of Rena Kofman, is poet and writer, a retired Professor of Hebrew from the City University of New York, and the author of twelve books in Hebrew. Her work appeared (in both Hebrew and English) in many magazines, anthologies, scholarly journals, etc. Her chapbook Captive of Jerusalem: Song of Shulamite has just been published by Finishing Line Press. Visit her webpage www.renalee.net.
There's a Slow Leak in Me
Danny Earl Simmons
There’s a slow leak in me
that hisses like a barn cat
warming the only spot left
for the last bale of hay of the day.
It winds all the way through
me like poisoned blood
marking the path of least resistance
on its way to this flabby deflation
in my chest that refuses to stop
pumping the waste of sunlight
and love I have become. She hears
it, too, says it sounds like the sigh
of coffee brewing in the morning
and is louder than goodbye kisses
or the crinkle of a brown paper bag
heavy with last night’s leftover dinner.
I Told Her, “It Must Feel like a Curse Sometimes,” and She Looked Back to Say, “It’s Really Bad When I Work It”
Danny Earl Simmons
Her perfume lags behind,
turns masculine minds
She adds just enough dip and sway
to her relaxed sashay, refuses to turn
to see who sees.
Her walk is a shape poem, visual art
without abstraction, metaphor, or simile.
It is a divinity of simplicity,
making boorish Bukowski stammer,
“Alas, what angel are you that hath passed
just by?” Alas, indeed!
Her walk has power enough
to straighten Whitman into a wolf-whistle
and Ginsberg into a howl.
Danny Earl Simmons is an Oregonian and a proud graduate of Corvallis High School. He is a friend of the Linn-Benton Community College Poetry Club and an active member of Albany Civic Theater. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals such as Naugatuck River Review, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow, and Verse Wisconsin.
Ralph Womer, Jr.
I had almost forgotten what adolescent boys, hoping
to cop their first feel, always remember.
On a date you sit in the seat to the girl’s left,
since their blouses open on that side.
It began with the affluent who could afford buttons
for women with help to fasten them.
Men, right handed, dressing themselves,
needed buttons sewn to the right side.
But now women wear men’s shirts,
some for comfort, some for the pleasure
they take in the lingering scent of their lovers.
How I wish I had never discovered,
hanging in the back of your closet, that faded
denim shirt, with buttons on the wrong side.
Ralph Womer, Jr.
Hunched over his workbench,
he bends the ends
of transistors and resistors,
joining them to circuit boards,
his precision enhanced
by an optician’s loupe.
A middle manager by day,
he repairs televisions
late into the night.
His hobby, self-taught,
still in its infancy,
he learns by trial and error.
As a boy, I help him
hold parts in place,
sensing the hot rosin core
and his perspiration. Together
we test each bond
for strength and accuracy.
Years later, both he and the
repair shop are gone, and I,
hunched over my laptop,
bend words into place,
often forcing a fit,
but in my mind I see
my father beside me soldering,
advising me to be precise.
Ralph Womer, Jr. is a retired veterinarian who practiced small animal medicine and surgery in Alabama for 40 years. He is the author of several professional journal articles, but since retirement, he has turned his writing to poetry, essays, memoir and fiction. Ralph lives in Auburn, AL with his wife, Carol and their 13 year old cat, Mr. Roberts.
Michael A. Wells
I remember our toy soldiers
were always frozen in some conscripted position
and they offered two options—
They could stand their ground and fight
or lay on their backs and sides
when the battle was over
and when mom would call out, "wash up"
they were scooped up
and laid to rest in a box.
Never in control of their battles,
when they would end,
or their destiny.
The radio man, previously kneeling
was now in fetal position
on his side.
The sharp shooter who crawled
to his post on his belly
was now flat on his back.
The bazooka man
rigor mortis set in.
at our tender age we had no idea
how real our play was.
not until the olive green bleeds,
until mom calls "wash up"
and no one comes.
Michael A. Wells is a native Missouri poet whose work has appeared in a number of venues including Rockhurst Annual Fine Arts Journal, Rose and Thorn Journal, Glass Fire Magazine and Montucky Review. When not writing or reading he is an avid San Francisco Giants Fan, enjoys white wine and black coffee, drinks way too much Diet Coke.
Man from Mars
Saturday I dropped a jar of pickles in the Dollar Store.
(Breakage in aisle whatever).
High School girl at the register was very nice about it,
(She said old people drop shit all the time).
To make up for the mess I bought three jars
She had some young lout carry them out to my car,
(To make sure I didn’t drop these too).
I went to give him a tip, but only had two twenties,
so I shook his hand instead.
(The boy looked at me like I was a man from Mars).
Doug Mathewson is best known for his mixed-media sculptures, certainly not his written work. The art-world remains unimpressed with the exception of his “Head-of-Goliath-a-Day” series. He portrays the famous image of young David with the severed head of the giant Goliath in dioramas contained within walnut shell halves. David could be a media figure, robot, space squid, film star, or just someone on the bus The artist is always the head. He works with Pandemonium Press, as well as Full of Crow Press and Distribution. More of his work can be found at little2say.
It’s Wednesday evening.
He’s drinking an Americano.
Through a gap
he can see the restaurant he frequents.
He was titled ‘Sir’ at the bar.
He’s treated well next-door too. He tips.
He’s unusual, drinking coffee
and writing poems.
He doesn’t come at weekends.
There’s no seating. Short skirts
steal his shy eye’s resting places.
Nerves from aloneness afflict him.
It’s a long time since he lived for drink, and smoked,
fighting to be served beer.
used to hide his gentle nature.
He fancies a waitress,
practical and religious affairs
He’ll be back tomorrow for food.
They may think he’s loaded.
He’s broke. As he said,
he quit ale and tabs. It’s just as well
when he’s odd enough to reference self in 3rd person.
Michael Holme is a forty something year old widower who lives with his dog, Lucy. He's been writing creatively for thirteen years and since finding Duotrope two years ago he has been getting published. His work appears in BlueStem magazine and Time of Singing, amongst others. He has a science background with a BSc in chemistry and an MSc in computing. When he's not writing he plays Grieg and Chopin on the piano. He once owned a red 1965 MG Midget and loved it.
My best friend
brings out a white thick
crayon of a joint
stolen from her sister's fringed purse.
"You inhale," she instructs,
"and hold it in."
the smoke swirls in my gut
filling my chest like a hot air balloon
weightless and burning
until the exhale escapes
through a chorus of coughs and snorts.
In the distance a church picnic—
buzzes like a hive—
bingo, quilts, funnel cakes,
the ticking of a roulette wheel,
Styx begging us to come sail away
. Our smoke sits in clouds
like rosary beads
around our necks.
I pinch my fingers together,
close my eyes and suck.
My gummy lips sticking
to white tissue paper thin
Amye Archer holds an MFA from Wilkes University. You can read more about her at www.amyearcher.com.
Lauren T. Yates
When your family asks why you refuse to come home,
tell them the plane ride can wait: you just got
a frequent buyer card from your favorite coffee shop.
The one with free WiFi that always has seating.
Tell them the barista who always brings
your drinks straight to your table gave this
punch card to you. He even asked how many pumps
of sweetener you wanted in your iced tea.
Tell them you already have four holes punched,
and you only need three more for a free cup of coffee.
They were always the ones who said you need
to finish what you start. Remind them of that.
Lauren Yates is a Philadelphia-based poet and a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, Lauren directed The Excelano Project performance poetry collective. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in FRiGG, Melusine, The Bakery, and The Legendary. For more information, visit http://laurentyates.wix.com/poetry.
He was a laid-off steelworker
Reduced to setting appointments
For insurance salesmen by phone
While scribbling down lists
Of the best rock and roll songs
From the past twenty years
And with a flicker in his eyes
Like a diminished candle
He would share them with me
With the same one on top
As if burned into his soul:
“A Whiter Shade of Pale”
Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally , nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.
I hold onto the slightly oily
shoulders of my father as he swims
way out at Rehobeth beach, leaving
the beach revelers way behind
going out, out, out past the sandbar
going far above both our heads.
Certainly I cannot swim back in or let go.
I am five years old, or less, so I watch
as we pass everyone who is out in the water
as we keep going. Back on the beach
lifeguards call people back out of the
water, and they emerge, dripping salt brine
off their suits but my father keeps going
and my head gets very hot. When
we return they have caught the shark
that had been lurking in the water
and hung him up for all to see.
Pushcart Prize winner, and three time Pushcart Nominee, Laura Rodley’s chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, Mass Book Award nominee won honorable mention for New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook, Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award; both published by Finishing Line Press with work nominated for Best of the Net. Former co-curator of Collected Poets Series, she teaches creative writing, works as freelance writer and photographer, and edited “As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology," Volumes I and II, and the newly minted Volume III edition, compilations of writing from seniors in their seventies to nineties.
Sweet Peas from Last Summer
lie defeated in a weed bed below
the overhead trellis, no fluttering
blossoms. A marker is still in the soil
where my mother planted it during the cool
weather of early spring.
By summer she could barely drag herself
to the yard, could no longer deadhead
spent flowers—by Thanksgiving,
she was inside for good.
Grass now covered in fungus,
mushrooms like bunched white Kleenex—
this morning, a flock of doves stopped
to look for grubs, madly poking for breakfast.
They left a trail of mysterious holes.
One black, one tan, they boomeranged across
the living room, claws scratching the floorboards.
Sighs hot on my feet, their collars rattled
when they shook the river from their coats.
Mornings, I rushed to shut their enthusiasm
out of the house, I hated when they brushed
against my legs still wet from the shower.
Their coats smelled of cedar chips, dried leaves.
They were my company when you were off
drinking at Travers; they’d watch me,
I’d watch for headlights, knowing you weren’t
turning in the drive by how their ears lay flat.
Bony legs trembled when they slept.
As if they dreamt of the coming months
when you would dry out up north; I’d be long gone
by then, no one to fill their blue plastic dishes.
Would they stay together, or be split
in two? They didn’t know about their new life
around the corner, they just jumped
and danced at the end of a leash.
Kellie Wardman received her MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College. She has been published in The Orange Room Review, Entelechy International, Limestone, New Hampshire Troubadour, and The Concord MonitorM, and her poetry has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Kellie maintains a blog at kelliewalrdman.com, and serves as adjunct faculty in creative writing and communications at Southern New Hampshire University.
He forgot again. Said he was going to the store for scratch tickets
and coffee after her friends from the Ladies Aid started calling
to wish her a happy birthday. She was pouring Pine-Sol into an
empty mop bucket when he returned. Hands behind his back. He
gestured to a kitchen chair. She obliged. Handed her an anemic
red rose. Then her “real” present. Wrapped in the Sunday paper.
She slid her finger under the black electrical tape and lifted both
sides to reveal a book of Word Searches and the name DELWIN
L. ACWORTH. To the right of her present. In the obituaries. The
man who never forgot her birthday. Sent her jewelry. Opal earrings.
Her birthstone. A diamond brooch. Just like her mother’s. Jewelry
stashed away in her red tartan cookie tin on the highest shelf. Wrote
her love poems until three weeks ago. The last one still tucked in
the pocket of her apron. Tears came to her eyes as she began to
stutter. You don’t have to search for the right words to say thank
you he said as he tapped her gift. I’m just glad that you’re happy.
Corey Cook is the author of three chapbooks: Rhododendron in a Time of War (Scars Publications), What to Do with a Dying Parakeet (Pudding House Publications), and Flock (Origami Poems Project). His work has recently appeared in The Aurorean, Brevities, Muddy River Poetry Review, Nerve Cowboy, Red River Review, Smoky Quartz Quarterly, The Somerville News and Wilderness House Literary Review. Corey edits The Orange Room Review with his wife, Rachael. They live in Thetford Center, Vermont with their daughters. His email address is email@example.com.