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miller's pond

Spring 2017

Tony Cosier Michael Estabrook James B. Nicola John Timothy Robinson Carol Hamilton
Simon Perchik Kevin Casey Mark Senkus Gary Beck Anita McKay
Timothy Murphrey Kelley White Richard Carl Subber Mark Livanos

 

 

Tony Cosier

ALCHEMISTS

We come to Earth to be alchemists,
to make of every motion’s sway a dance,
erect the total frame of things in thought,
uncover sounds and funnel them to music,
and begin to count the stars,
 
to learn from the stars of night
how they hold their places still in the blue of day
though the sun bedazzles them out,
 
and carry the sun as a cup of gold
with warmth through our shaded veins
to learn to see a greening world
and earn it back for morning
by drawing the bright ball soundlessly
to the quenching purple of hills
and learning to let it go.
 

WINDSOR GREAT PARK:  Horse and Hawk

I entered the Deer Park from Bishopsgate,
crossed the hoof-pocked riding track, and found
the winding way descending to a curved stone bridge
and a broad open view of the castle.
 
Ground gathered behind me in a green mounded tor
topped by the statue of the horseman.
Drawn to the eminence, I climbed grass stubble
into morning brightness chilled by blustering wind.
 
Footing grew rougher.  Earth grist, fossil rock,
coarse granite blocks bolstered a bouldered pile
rising to a great wide slab and the copper horse.
Sharp against the sky, the royal rider
raised an arm to bless the hillcrest and valley.
 
From the base of the monument, peering straight up
at the raised hoof of the horse, its serpentine mane
                                                and ferocious eye,
I caught – mastering the wind, at home
in the high pale blue – the slow, silent glide
                                                of a hawk.
 

Tony Cosier is a retired high school English teacher who now writes full time.  He is the author of ten volumes of verse, a novel, a book of stories, and six plays.  His work is published widely in such magazines as Blueline, Canadian Literaure, Dreamcatcher, Equinox, miller’s pond, and Pennine Platform.  His most recent collection of poetry, from Penumbra Press, is Carillonneur.


Michael Estabrook

In Memoriam

Writing, art in general, can never
do full justice to the experience of life, of living.
It can only illuminate the peaks and valleys.
 
For me, my brother remains firmly entrenched
within my mind and heart, memories of him,
of things he’s said and done, moments
we’ve experienced together both good and bad
slipping in from the mists of my memory,
sometimes not slipping in but clambering
into my consciousness when I least expect it
and often when I most need it
mostly good memories subsumed
in his wit bristling with his sarcasm
to make me smile or even better, laugh out loud:
in the car, the supermarket, the doctor’s office
or most recently and most embarrassingly,
while sitting with my tax accountant, yikes.
 
The truth of it is, Kerry remains with me all the time
my Conscience sitting implacably on my shoulder
to balance off the damn Devil on the other shoulder
reminding me to live as fully as I am able, fight
the good fight, stay true to myself,
and for crying out loud,
don’t take it all so damn seriously.

All life, it seems is just a dream, and even dreams are dreams.

Calderon de la Barca
1
When I kissed her foot there
in the dark in the tent I never wanted
that feeling to end I wanted nothing more
than to kiss her foot but she pulled it away
and then she was gone too.
 
2
I find Kerry upstairs
in his room in the old Northfield house
in the far corner at his desk
so absorbed in writing something he doesn’t see
or hear me and I can’t get his attention.
 
3
In a subway tunnel the walls made of blue tiles. Snakes
are everywhere their tongues flicking the air
some crawling through holes in the tiles. My father
appears walking towards me to save me
but he can’t avoid stepping on the snakes.

 

James B. Nicola

  Library

 
Welcome to my library,
the mausoleum of a focused day.
Within each jacket cover
a soul resides. If it is over-
stuffed on every shelf
it is with Possibility
so I think that I like it this way,
     myself.
 
Try opening a tome
whether to quench a curiosity
and dowse a burning need
or just for something light to read
and see the ghost inside
take over half my quiet home
as if we’d summoned the dead to be
     our guide
 
on a trip around the world.
Row with me down the River Styx
to shores of bygone times
enchanted by the spells of rhymes
where, lost in liquid light,
we’ll turn to find each other curled
up with a book, or five or six,
     tonight.
 
 
 
“Library” was originally published in Gale Force, the newsletter of the Gale Free Library in Holden, Massachusetts (my home town). It was subsequently published in the Raritan, NJ public library’s anthology.

James B. Nicola's poems have appeared in miller’s pond, the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His two poetry collections, published by Word Poetry, are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016). sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.

John Timothy Robinson

Loam Bearing

Past a wide hay-field,
under green, sprawling branches
I crouched in a creek-bed,
lifted fossils or rocks in sunlight,
curious or strange in their design,
once living things,
proof more whole than thought,
though thought returns.
 
Palms level,
fingertips barely grazed the surface;
a reflected cirrus, vapor trail.
Down where flow-worn stones
shifted from this oval depth,
a shallow run of limestone,
clusters of blackened-brown algae
swayed back and forth,
slow as the source which urged them on.
 
Pete Hughes’ shanty stood on the edge
next to a steep bank.
He used to live up the hollow
beside College Hill,
behind grandpa’s tobacco barn.
Mary Cora took him in
like some common-law adoption.
 
The only thing I’ve found,
that strange-looking, slick-haired man
in photographs with family,
his thin, pallid face,
a suit and Colonel Sanders shoelace tie.
Now the pieces emerge,
tumble, roll toward creek’s edge.
Here, my humid ritual of sun-dappled shade
was to plunder this meander when water receded.
 
Gnats would clot and swarm above the pool.
Roots clutched at loam banks
where leaves were russet clusters of discolored beauty.
In that dark water between them
where fish rose to feed,
I searched for something I could not name.
 
My mind would crave fragments of splintered glass.
Peering, tiny sand-ridges had formed in sediment,
splotched with moss, broken stems,
one speckled leaf, with dead larva resting in risen veins.
 
Mom named my little brother, Lucas Wayne.
He had a twin, though they never knew the gender.
Both still-born, buried for years
beside the backyard creek,
a little concrete slab
with Light-Brite bulbs to make his name.
 
Maybe in the next life,
if there is any sense of after-life,
we laugh and roam the woods,
where disease, pain or sorrow are never known.
The mind resists these relics;
a crushed milk jug layered in growth,
warped by the flow of a thousand floods,
with coated sides that bore only runes of nature’s make.
 
A severed pincer ghostly hovered in current.
Minnows glided, dispersed,
quick movements never the same.
My grandma moved sixteen times her whole life.
I can’t imagine any other home.
Damp seeped through canvas to my bare feet.
An animal tore through brush,
unseen in the green hill’s woods.
Images rippled into obscurity.
Once, I had only questions
like an eggshell moon in blue, summer sky,
obvious and barren, with only this truth:
we live to find our own answers, in our own time.
 
 

When Thoughts Take Shape


When thoughts take shape, ink’s one self
becomes an object on a table.
Holding meaning’s shell,
a fine edge sharpened of the dull,
revised ideas create thought more stable.
Rebuilt words of slivery context,
one voice in power, enabled
through familiar images, trust or suspect.
One goal is illusion of reflex;
breathing, spontaneous living form,
cadenced language the mind inflects,
each syllable of breath to be fresh scorn,
shifting within this active way,
the inanimate fossil unburies glorious day.

John Timothy Robinson is a traditional citizen and graduate of the Marshall University Creative Writing program in Huntington, West Virginia with a Regent’s Degree.  A twelve-year educator for Mason County Schools in Mason County, West Virginia,  John is currently working on a creative dissertation in contemporary poetry, though outside the university environment.   

Carol Hamilton

 A Generational Outing 

His I-Phone gave them wrong directions,
so I, my bent and compacted spine
notwithstanding, stood at the grassy edge
of the road lined with warehouses,
boat shops, empty fields.
Pickups, vans and cars
slid by as I stared up the road
to the crest of the hill
beyond the stop sign.
With my phone voice and myself
there to assure them, they arrived.
Inside was as ordered, light and
impressive as the outside was shabby.
From daintiest skeleton, the startling white
of a tiny lizard, to the huge whale hanging,
we inspected two stories
of the impressive protective girding
each creature bears.
Against the squish factor,
we decided we preferred our own
ribs and femur and cranial curve
to  the ectoskeletal choice.
This one-man collection showed us
all there is to be seen of bones,
so we left. Despite their paraphernalia
and strong structural foundations,
they followed me to the restaurant
while back in the museum,
a tiny army of beetles feasted
on the yet-to-be-ready- for-display
carcasses. We all ordered pasta,
spineless, and our sauces vegetarian.

 Visiting Jane

 
Her daughter called. In a card
I asked if a visit might help.
I had not gone in recent days
as Jane seemed only confused
at faces from the past. Go
at mealtime, she enjoys
her food, is more alert,
should remember your name.
4:30, dinnertime. Her roommate,
bed near the door, is alarmed,
thinks perhaps she has stolen my bed.
No, I'm just here to visit Jane.
I should have waited until
the call for dinner. I awakened her.
Spark of momentary recognition,
smile instantly lost in terror,
wide eyes signaling the struggle
to catch some shooting star,
hold onto a streak of light.
That small room was jammed
     full
         of abysses that anyone
                could fall
                        and fall
                                    and fall
                                      into.
 

 Remembering West Virginia

 
I was young and my first short story
was titled “Black Bird.” The heroes were a boy
I once taught in a Connecticut second grade
and the ravaged hillside I anguished about
in those simpler, bad old days of strip mining.
The last time I visited there was restorative.
Efforts had been made.
The re-built hills looked
like aging virgins, though,
of course, we all knew they weren’t.
That was years ago.
I  hear it is all worse now
with mountaintop removal.
I once tried to wash away the black soot
from the porch of my two-story,
white frame house.
With my bucket, rag and ladder,
I left clean waves curling to edge
the sweep of my rag,
as high as I could reach.
Above that white and grime seascape,
nothing was changed. I suspect
“Black Bird” boys still live there,
doomed to the slowest reading circle
and watching big bites ripped from the earth
just outside the classroom window.

Carol Hamilton has recent publications in Paper Street, Common Ground, Louisiana Review, Sanskrit, The 3228 Review,Texas Poetry Calendar 2017,  and others. She has  published 17 books, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from the Visual Arts Cooperative Press in Chicago. She is  a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize.

Simon Perchik

*

With each hand the same turn
you learned to take apart
put together, tighten
 
and though the wrench holds on
the tire's slowly going flat
the only way you know how
 
–you let go, circle
spring-like, for keeps
around the pin-hole leak
 
already planes falling into place
as a training song from the 40s
louder and louder, struggling for air
 
–at last the tire goes down
half under the ground
where you need both wrists
 
the way flowers wilt and each breath
takes in more smoke, still black
on course, end over end, almost there.


*

Again your shadow loose in the attic
as if more light could help
coming for old letters, broken frames
 
not sure what was torn apart
has healed by now, hidden
as sharp corners though you
 
still expect the some days
to climb alongside and the height
save them –it’s storage work
 
later work –Esther and you
on a pony that almost remembers the dust
it carried all the way down.


Simon Perchik's work has also appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.
 

Kevin Casey

English as a Second Language


The first couple of years after college,
the difficult part wasn’t enduring
that same diet of noodles and chicken franks
cooked in a kitchenette with thrift store pans
in the gray martyrdom of a new city,

cashing in early on weekend nights,
walking home along the broken asphalt
between the bleared halos of shop lights
from a slightly higher than minimum-wage job
teaching English as a Second Language.

Instead, it was the missing gallery
of faces--supportive, disappointed,
but always mindful. All those watchful eyes
that seemed to care if I succeeded or failed
had faded, turned away to their own worries

and concerns, the assembly now replaced
with the earnest faces of a dozen
young Korean women to whom I taught
idioms and clauses two nights a week,
their gaze rarely lifted higher than their desks.

And when I asked them before our first test
if there were any lingering questions,
they were all too mortified to confess
and to accuse, to reveal that our weeks
in the classroom had all been in vain,

and so each one would fail. But that evening
they shook their raven heads and lied to one
of the faces lined up to judge their lives,
this one behind a lectern, saying:
No, thank you. We are OK, Mr. Sir Casey.

Kevin Casey is the author of And Waking... (Bottom Dog Press, 2016), and the chapbooks The wind considers everything (Flutter Press) and For the Sake of the Sun (Red Dashboard). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Chiron Review, Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Ted Kooser's syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry.

Mark Senkus


RETURN

 
the darkness of the house
unravels into the side yard
out through the window
the open hush of curtains
where I can almost hear the travels
of your voice on that road
there is stillness here that only
stillness can know
this heart without motion
without disguise
heaped upon the windowsill
steadied by cradling hands
and the silence of waiting.
 

IN THE DREAM OF OUR AGE

 
moods like a blue dark rain
to fill a barrel
there is only so much of heaven
to go around
time sprawled wide as the early sun
 
in the ocean mountains are upside-down
going backward
into the voiceless crust of the earth
 
the years lie crooked on our faces
breath falls away soft as a dove
the face falls away from its age.
 
Mark Senkus lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in proximity to a forest known as the Delirium Wilderness.  He has appeared previously in Potomac Review, Pif Magazine, Rattle and Main Street Rag.  Senkus holds a Master of Social Work degree and is employed as a psychotherapist with a Native American tribe.

 

Mark Livanos

Poof!

 
The structure is a cartoon.
Beams burst out like watch springs,
floors flay like toothpicks,
joists now sticks cannot hold a load,
or be re-constructed back into
that intricate attic cathedral.
 
Even cross beams and braces
that once had the elegance
of a mantis now resemble
scrambled eggs, the
skeletal remains of
a hurricane’s destruction
 
Like sailors venerating
the safety of their ship, my house
channeled achievements
through libraried passages
showcasing galleries
of joy and hope.
 
No longer can we wake
to that cool blue room,
treadmill just so,
pocket door ajar and
enter a walkway leading
to an oversized bathroom.
 
Much went into
that renovated house
where countless paychecks
and sweat equity
made our little utopia
fit like-a-tee.
 
All that’s left is rubbish
and a blank sheet of paper.

Mark's poems appear in Straylight Magazine, Poets’ Espresso Review, Old Red Kimono, Ship of Fools, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Sheepshead Review, Song of the San Joaquin Quarterly, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, The Sunday Poet and other journals.


Gary Beck

Exhalation

 
As we approach the future
plundering resources
that insure survival,
voices of reason
too often are silent,
instead of objecting
to government policies
that neglect preservation
of breathable air.
Some hold their breath
longer than others,
but soon will exhale,
followed by the last gasp.


The Doomsday Machine


Intelligence agencies,
the Pentagon, Hollywood,
feared, predicted a device
that would eliminate
all human life on earth.
It's a shock to discover
that our total destruction
may not be caused by war,
but by assault on nature,
killing the environment
with agricultural waste,
industrial emissions
that eradicate forests,
replacing them with concrete.
We throttle the planet
with cumulative attacks
preventing recovery
from too much depletion
of the air, the water,
the probability
of continued existence.

'Blossoms of Decay' is an unpublished poetry collection that is fueled by the chaotic events sweeping the world.
 
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks and 3 more accepted for publication. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines.


Anita McKay

 

LOSING TRACK


Another day I might
have taken the time
peeled the thick
broccoli stem
added to the pot
mindful of
thin limbs
bloated bellies

but my life my life
its insistence
its own need


ODE TO MY CELL PHONE


No more smell of sweaty hands,
hair oil, and metal,
acid burn of urine.
No feel of cold metal
as the door squeaks closed
after jamming twice.

No frantic search
for a public phone or
enough coins for the call;

no operator telling you
your three minutes are up,
no worries whether
you can find change
before you're cut off,
those last persuasive words
hanging in the air forever unsaid.


Anita McKay's poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including miller's pond, Rose & Thorn Journal, and Chronogram. She is an avid traveler who enjoys seeing new places, learning the history firsthand, enjoying the food, and meeting people.  The most significant part of travel for her is the encounters with people, including herself.

Timothy Murphrey

Work Week

In the middle of the night and some old song
the levy failed and I nearly drowned
in warped vinyl and whiskey, the promise
of country music and ice rattling
against glass, smoking grass in cabs
of pickup trucks outside Captain Cottonmouth’s.
It came back to me,
small plots of homes in real America,
cramped with old motorcycles and the odd
muscle car skeleton, like outlaw ranches corralled
in chain link. I was barely into shaving
when Terry put the gun in my hand,
taught me to steal for what I believed in.
No one argued with Terry.
And when that job was over I would lay awake,
waiting on the whistle, then dress and walk
through wet fog, over the bridge at Bayou Liberty,
past more respectable fences,
the shack, the clock, the foreman,
to the cement forms where I made and gave away
my structure, rebar and tie-wire to become
pylons and slabs, columns and medians
for overpasses and highways,
and find myself again at the end of each week
Fridays when the men on the crew
found themselves too, only half-men,
when alimony had taken more
than they had created.
Another weekend at Captain’s and I remember
waking to bruised and broken bodies
and knowing if Monday didn’t come
we could have hopped the fence and left

Our town

Strangers approach this valley,
their haste beaten in degrees
by dusk. Rough edges mark
the outskirts of the town
where we live.
There are entire stations
between them and where they left,
and their city noises fade
into muffled country tones
coming in at first through static,
and broken,
steadily clearer, over AM waves
and mono speakers. In a car
bottle green dash lights flicker,
seem to keep time with the music.
They pass through formless spruce thickets
then groves of white birch,
thin wraiths that sway to the rhythm
of tread and radio over blacktop,
their stark trunks like rib bones, giving way
to the road as it continues through
those things that belong:
the pulse of small town, empty dime stores,
cafes, motionless houses,
grounds of grass and sage through which
this road leads them, out
the other side, where the reception
is not so clear.

Timothy Murphrey has called Fairbanks, Alaska, home for over 23 years. He's had the privilege of infiltrating the system and teaching literature and composition to high schoolers and college students for 13  years, and is finally coming back to writing poetry. Poems about the land and people seem to be what come out of him.


Richard Carl Subber

 

Dance in the night

 
Jittering dance of light and dark,
the jabs of motions,
frantic flow of hitch and start,
the dervish jolts, more dash and retreat,
more scuttle from the murky edge,
more hasty mash of shapes and lines,
they will not stay, they will not still,
they have no time to tarry.
 
These umbered sprites,
these shimmered dabs,
these moonstruck shadows of the credulous leaves
   that are tempted to live
      by the mischievous wind in the night.

Rick Subber is a freelance editor, a writing coach, historian, and former newspaper editor. Rick’s first book of poetry, Writing Rainbows: Poems for Grown-Ups, is available on Amazon. His poetry also has been accepted in The Aurorean, The Australia Times Poetry, The RavensPerch, Northern Stars, Whispers and elsewhere. His website is http://richardsubber.com/

Kelley White

If you are the villain in my life

 
How is it I love you? We both know
I’m a sucker for punishment, that
I have bad self-esteem, that I walk
staring at my feet—I’m not your wife.
People must think our marriage is so
miserable that they smile at our spats
in public, the way you always talk
like you’re an expert; you think you’re nice
when you tell my mother she’s the smartest
uneducated woman you know.
She takes it as a compliment, like
you see her as a peer, you old fart.
(She calls you that, in private, it’s love, though.)
 

Halt

 
When did I stop tasting, going only
for the feel of teeth grinding to nothing
all I desired, the sweet and the fat,
the salty and the cold, the crispy and hot?
When did I just start sucking it down? Not
even a moment of taste, a pause that
might lessen the hunger, might even begin
to fill me, be a little less lonely?
 
It’s never enough, always desire
for more drives me, just one more little bite
of cake or a cookie, a little more
butter, a little more bread, more before
I’m in bed with my ice cream and good night
to the thin body I might have acquired.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.