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miller's pond

Volume 17, Issue 3

Fall 2014

Bea O'Brien                                          Robert Demaree                                Michael Estabrook     
Caroline N. Simpson                            Howard F. Stein                                 Tamara Turner     
Sandra Miller                                       Cleo Griffith                                      James G. Piatt        
Carol Hamilton                                    Byron Beynon                                    Greg Moglia           
Ty Cronkhite                                        Richard Dinges, Jr.                            William G. Davies, Jr.
Gabriella M. Belfiglio                         Donal Mahoney                                 JD DeHart

Bea O'Brien

Bea O'Brien was a U.S Navy Nurse in WWII. A poet and free lance writer, the founder of Poet's Theater in Hornell,  New York and the Loon Lake Poetry Festival, she has had over 150 poems published in small presses, and is the author of NO SMALL TWIG and FROM THE WINGS. Bea’s award-winning poems have been selected as examples in college textbooks. In addition to poetry, her other publishing credits include a children’s story/coloring book, I LOOKED OUT ONE MORNING, and a railroad novel, ONE TRACK. Bea has celebrated writing with hundreds of people through her readings, publications, and workshops.


LETCHWORTH PARK

Tiger lilies bloom
along the banks
of a deep gorge
formed by the
Genessee River.
A tent of boughs
shades wild waters
of Spring, turning them
deep and dark.
The Turkey Hawk
spins graceful
circles, close to
time-worn
ledges and pools
of light
drifting and floating
as though on a
spider's silken thread
from the bright blue ceiling
overhead.
A fluttering life falls
onto dry ground
near tall shale
cliffs.
The brilliant lilies'
bloom is
brief and eternal.
 
Each spring
I return.
The vultures greet me.
Lilies, still brilliant
their beauty new
and inspiring.

April Moon

This moon is full
and bright with promise.
It is a silver wash
of light, a rippling
path up to the door.
But there is more.
This moon is old
and cold
wrapped in a shawl
of dark clouds.
This moon will
nip tiny buds
ice the lily.

Michael Estabrook

Temptation

Whenever he finds a spider
in the house he leaves it alone
life is tough enough
he reasons even for spiders.
But sometimes one will show up
in the bedroom
around bedtime
and his wife notices and says
“either that spider goes or I do”
So of course he captures it
releases it outside
where it belongs anyway
but honestly at times
he’s tempted to leave
the damn thing
right where she found it.

Caroline N. Simpson

I am an English teacher, currently teaching English as a Second Language at a community college in Seattle, WA.  My poetry has been published in a Barcelona-based literary magazine, Barcelona Ink, and several U.S. magazines, including Two Cities Review, Third Wednesday, and Bear Creek Haiku. In April 2013, I participated in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month Initiative, Pulitzer Remix, in which I was one of 85 poets responsible for publishing one found poem a day for the month of April from a Pulitzer-prize winning work of fiction: http://www.pulitzerremix.com/

A Snail’s Life

As I wait for the traffic light to change
I think of you and the weight of this shell
digs into my back. I make up my mind
to hit the gas through this intersection

but when the light turns green my exhaust 
turns to slime and my tires slip and slide;
a silver trail desiccates behind me.
Riding my back always, this heavy house

of brittle walls brims over with tender looks
and touch, the color nude. I wish I could
smash this carpet bag of residual flesh,
expose the soft and supple to the sun,

pour salt on promises hanging so thick
the air turns to slime and I can’t breathe
or keep up with this life I’ve built without you
so I’m always slipping, catching myself. 

I wish the shape of my face not too narrow

And don’t exaggerate how my head’s on crooked-
I don’t want to look like a Modigliani
But draw my cheekbones a bit pointed
Like Malificent in Sleeping Beauty.

Upon my face paint the expression of Icarus-
The moment before he smelled hot wax
Full of sacred awe at the ploughmen below
So the eyes forget themselves.

To suggest I’ve been living
on the Mediterranean-
Choose a tan color for my skin
And the blue of a Turkish sky for my eyes.

The background- all poppies and butterflies-
In flight, the brighter the colors the better
So the viewer feels he is looking
Through a kaleidoscope.

On my lap should be resting-
Like the dichotomous Greek masks
Scuffed up rock climbing shoes
And shiny red tango heels.

Some final recommendations-
Draw a hat atop my head
One that borders on ugly
And have me just barely pull it off.

Noted American Painter Andrew Wyeth, 91, Dies

He was born here, lived here.

Three generations of Wyeths,
limited in scale yet rich in associations,
in spite of the scenery:

aging people and brown, dead plants.

Alone for hours, he tramped across the countryside
collecting the hidden melancholy of the pastures:

timelessness of rocks and hills.

“There’s a lot of cornball in that state!” but here

we have scandals hidden in brushstrokes,
hidden in Master Bedrooms
Around the Corner.

Her face tantalizingly unseen,
Christina rested her weight on one Long Limb.
Stray hairs blew towards the very thing which she leaned:

a dilapidated farmhouse, gray and shadowed
alone in the far right corner of a large yellow field

alone against the walls of a dimly lit museum.

When he chafed under criticism, Christina’s World
died in his sleep at his home.

Grass grows thick over tracks to a farmhouse with no lights on.

All the people who have lived here no longer give interviews;
Everything they have to say is on the walls.

You feel the bone structure in this landscape,
because the whole story doesn’t show.

Black Tea with Milk and Sugar


Without milk,
the black will bite the back of my throat
in the spot which holds the beginnings
of the universal sob.

But with milk
swirling upon entry, the blackness fades
one tint at a time to a taupe
that coddles like her milk,
cauterizing the soar sad throat
carrying comfort time and time again
to that deep darkness within.

The sugar tastes of breakfast cookies shaped like an “S,”
feasted upon in my grandmother’s nest,
now tasting even sweeter
in this moment between earth and ether:

the kettle whistle blowing,
the sound of three mugs’ emptiness disappearing,
and with milk and sugar, all vacuums dissolving,

my lips slowly sipping the steeping sap,
suckling at the teat of warmth and comfort and love.

Every cup of tea I drink is my mother and my grandmother.

Tamara Turner

Tamara has been writing for over 30 years. She currently lives in southern California.

Breeze

 
Brittle and breaking
Relentless wind punishes
For failure to bend

Sandra Miller

Sandra Miller teaches family medicine and leads a literature-triggered workshop in reflective writing for physicians, bolstered by remote degrees in rhetoric and anthropology. Discounting dreary medical writing, she has had a few odd pieces published in Pulse and JAMA, and occasionally pretends to be an essayist. She enjoys the metaphor of living in Phoenix and trying to rise repeatedly from her ashes.

Hearts

We say that our hearts ache with desire and we say that people are kind-hearted.
Villains bear a black heart and heroes tout a heart of gold.
But this is the foolishness of poetry, for the heart is a hollow house,
four small rooms that never pander to maudlin sentiments.
 
The heart is a professional, a soldier, trained to tramp on
through all weather and adversity, 
trained not to care.
It does not pine or burn or gladden or be cruel.
It cannot stop to ponder if someone smiled or scowled,
it cannot feel the warm stroke of a hand or the sting of rebuke.
Even when most of the body falters around it,
the heart keeps to its business,
pumping gallon after gallon of blood and oxygen to the farthest regions we command,
out to our curling fingers and gnarled toes.
 
The heart can skip, but that is not joyous.
It can stumble and pause, both troublesome.
When our heart stutters, we stutter.
We depend on its steadiness,
its penchant to speed up when we hurry and
to slacken when we sleep,
slowing but never stopping,
a parent who drowses with one ear tuned to the needs of a child.
 
Some hearts grow weary before their time.
Maybe they have grown flabby from marching too little,
slumped inside a body slumped on a couch in a dreary house.
 
Yet the heart rarely forgets its duty;
it is the patriot of our body and devoted to its role,
its own ticking clock.
The valves, like softly folded doors, fly open and shut, in and out,
the countdown of our lives.
 
Take care, take care, for with each beat
the muffled hinges are slamming shut on what can never be repeated. . .
The pulse complete, irrevocable,
and the next throb gathering force.

Lungs

When we dream ocean dreams, floating in spangled blue,
it is a dream from our ancient gills.
We prowled like sharks, muscled for eons through cobalt seas,
Until a few briny creatures had dreams of their own,
dreams of stepping ashore.
There is always a frontier if we seek one.
 
We say that a surprise takes our breath away, but it cannot.
Lungs keep breathing because they must.
We might pause them a moment, whether for surprise 
or a quick dive at a prickly starfish on the ocean floor,
but lungs only tolerate that nonsense briefly
and will take matters over again.
 
The lungs want one thing.
Their mission is oxygen, and they crave it and pluck it hungrily from our atmosphere.
All the abundant nitrogen,
the scanty hydrogen and helium that float about –
meaningless to our lungs.
 
The airways are a hollow tree of passages,
upside down and inside out.
They start with a wide tracheal freeway
then narrow into side streets and country lanes, a thousand miles of byways,
into footpaths and finally millions of tiny cul-de-sacs,
the alveoli, where the circulating blood
swaps out a jaded bit of carbon dioxide and
snatches up new oxygen.
 
Our chest harbors a tricky co-dependency of lung and heart,
a push and pull of blood and air, a generous model of give and take.
The heart thuds away, nestled in the snug embrace of the soft pillowed lungs,
lulled by the endless tides of inspiration and expiration.

Testicles


Testicles
 
Testicles, the most optimistic of organs.
Launching millions of sperm every time, the hopeful hordes of frantic reproduction.
Hurry, hurry, seek the egg, rush and search, every minute counting . . .
So many lost, lifeless within a few hours or days.
But testicles have no memory of the carnage,
The tiny wasted dead washed away in the next menstrual tide,
And again they assemble and dispatch the armies of potential souls
Like mindless lemmings.
And again.
 
Maybe all optimists are cruel at heart
For promoting the impossible,
Maybe the cynics have it right
And campaigns are for chumps and cons.
 
Testicles orbit the perineum closely, two tethered moons
In bold plain sight.
What kind of organ hangs outside the body, vulnerable and visible
Even when clothed, bulky, lurking,
Ostracized from the body’s embracing warmth and protection,
Suspended in a thin scrotal purse, wrinkled and loose like a plastic bag.
A shabby casing for the future of the species.
 
Some men tout their testicles, admired for their
Big balls or nervy nuts, their brave boys, unaware that
Manliness lies between the ears and not between the legs.
 
But hope is elusive and strangely persistent
Even when humans spend themselves in whimsy and lust
Testicles keep producing, keep hurling their minions into darkness
Like glittering confetti, those wriggling little half-sparks
Yearning toward the planetoid gravity of the large round egg until
One lands and burrows in, warm and safe,
Joins in a spiral twist and wraps his strands around hers
A complicated sort of holding hands.
And we keep hoping for our kind
And try again.

Cleo Griffith

I am one of the many poets in the California Central Valley. I am the Chair of the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin which is in its 11th year. I have been published in Iodine Poetry Journal, Cider Press Review, the Aurorean, POEM, Tiger's Eye, Main Street Rag and more, and am included in More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets, an anthology available on Amazon.com.

Battle Zone

Like an aircraft sitting on the runway
I idle here, not knowing if I will need to take off,
fly another rescue mission,
drop the necessary supplies or
drop the basket into which you can climb
to be lifted up and out again.
I can fly fast, jet-propelled
into your war-zone
but my fuselage is riddled
with gunshots
and my windshield blurred with rain
or something.

Chartreuse

The bright yellow poppy draws his attention.
Paint that one for me so I do.
I’ve been painting this canvas for a long time,
it stretches miles, covered with gaudy scenes,
 
misty abstracts, jumbles of faces and words –
there is, I suppose, some sort of pattern if I
could step away long enough to see it,
but I am solidly in my place while the days
 
roll by me in dabs of chartreuse – or beige –
according to his whim.
I do not argue because I fear
he would take his long fingernails and
 
rip apart this history. I stay,
color pots all around, brushes of different sizes,
spatulas for the thick oily obsessions,
spray bottle for the watercolors
 
when he wants distortion.
Too busy to even notice if there are
colors most often used, styles repeated,
I live in a daze painting poppies
 
for someone who will not even
lift a pencil and draft the petals.

Friday-Green Evening

Now in this Friday-green evening coolness
I would forget you, but your purple name
surrounds me, oh, damn, that I should fall
for a common-name con,
when there are those whose names
hardly rate a place on the color chart.
 
Tomorrow is the yellow first day of a new month.
The chords of colors that will follow
should respect my single-shade withdrawal
and not deflect my mind from the enjoyment
of each brilliant week.
 
Now the green evening meets the silver strike
of 10 p.m., I am awash in symbols,
draped in light swatches of the hours past,
a scintillating calendar flashes signals
of what will come, the richness still here
in my synesthesian world
and you dissolving among all the other purples.

Sitting in the Open in a Straight-Backed Chair

You sing behind seven layers of rain
notes softened, fluid,
 
you dance in the cross-shadow of sun and moon
steps dampened delicate by dawn,
 
you speak, accompanist of earthquakes
give yourself wistfulness by contrast,
 
you watch from within the mumurration of skylarks
untouchable among the wings -- and beaks.
 
You do not need me
but if you should
you know where to find me.
 

Sweet Dust

I leave behind my mutterings
over old strangled torments,
regain my voice of trust.
These hands will not strike down
a moth drawn by light,
or feet stomp upon
the spider in cool back yard.
 
My path is opened, straight.
Razor rocks of these last years’
dry twisted journey
shall soften to warm salty sand
beneath a new tide.
 
This will be.
And more, you and I shall share the bounty,
the lion and the bull share straw,
the snake, toothless, will exist
only on sweet dust.

James G. Piatt

Dr. Piatt is a retired professor, poet, and author. Broken Publications published 2 books of his poetry, The Silent Pond (2012) and Ancient Rhythms (2014). His third poetry book is scheduled for released in late 2014. Over 545 of his poems, 2 novels,The Ideal Society, and The Monk, 33 short stories, and 7 essays have also been published. His poem, “The Night Frog,” was nominated for best of web 2013. His books are available on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Aging

Dried feathers hanging loosely on a metaphor,
Cacophonous notes glued together with iambic age,
Partners in the rhyming crime of the toxic
Thing called, the golden years. I yearn for the
Sweet aroma of yellow roses sitting inside
A vase filled with youthful longings in
The light of a pomegranate sky: I cling to the
Past of black and white movies, drive-ins, and
29 cent hamburgers: Oh To be young again and
Not have wrinkles, gray hair, shuffling feet,
And, vanishing memories.

A Day in My Memory

The day seemed to sigh,
Or groan
In an imaginary tone:

A wisp of scarlet mist, high
Above the horizon
Something without sound,
Unreal, yet, real… must be…has to be…
An image of something gone, but
Still present
I should know… but… don’t:

My loss of memory precedes that
Which is known, or groaned, or…sighed…
It increases in intensity…or perhaps
Density… like
A lonely man perusing his nightmares in B flat
Minor… or A sharp major…or rusted sound:

Hearing a Western song, I recall a pair of
Broken spurs, crumpled Stetson, torn jeans…
Another day that seemed to sigh
Or groan
In an imaginary tone.

Carol Hamilton

Carol Hamilton has upcoming and recent publications in LOUISIANA REVIEW, TRIBECA POETRY REVIEW, BOSTON LITERARY REVIEW, THE AUROREAN, U.S.1 WORKSHEET, A NARROW FELLOW,  LILLIPUT, BLUESTEM,  BLUE UNICORN, SOW'S EAR POETRY,  and others. She has published 16 books, children's novels, legends and poetry. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated five times for a Pushcart Prize.
 

Indian Summer

            They called it Old Wives’ Summer,
            though I don’t know why,
            as I remember that state as
            a little limp.  I think I’ll call it
            Old Divorcés’ Summer, crisp
            and bright-leaved and ready
            with remembrance and renewed
            potential, but this time braced
            by the hint of brevity overlooked
            in youth.  Soon enough the landscape
            is tamped down, silenced with snow,
            and someone new will be surprised
            by spring.  But now the sun
            is not really serious, wears a mask
            of an earlier self  but shows off
            the now-gaudy leaves   and the finery
            of feathered fields of dried wildflowers.


Chastising a Friend for Abominable Behavior

                        "but I can't resist this from Kierkegaard,"

                                 Elizabeth Bishop in a letter to Robert Lowell

 
She could not find the shaming quote
from Henry James to deter her dear friend
from abusing the loyal and left-behind wife
in print, so Bishop turned
to another tortured Dane.
Like Hamlet, Lowell struggled
for his better self and sometimes lost.
What a sideline agony to see the hero
on the field or court or in the ring
lose control, break into a mid-event brawl,
and be too far away
(even in referee stripes)
to break up the melee.
Those telepathic arrows might,
indeed, pierce the intended heart
to no avail!  Then the sad distance
and how to mend the cracked china
so no one sees, and then how to share
the teacups trusting them not to leak
hot tea all over what we value so.
 

Giving Thanks

For return from one
more errand for one
more forgotten ingredient
to the linger
of pie crust scent.
For awakening to baste
every two hours,
the all-night turkey smell,
the surround sense
of us all together,
the little ones,
the lost ones,
the apple bite
of autumn air,
the hint of smoke,
the clarity of fall light.
Then think of
the soon-to-be-stored
memories carried home
with the emptied side dishes.
All hovers, waits
in a now-silent
and tidy kitchen.

Robert Demaree

Bob Demaree is a retired educator who has published 700 poems in 150 periodicals. After Labor Day, his third book-length collection, was published in April by Beech River Books. In the last year and a half, Bob’s poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, the Burlington Writers Club, and the Gilman Library in Farmington.

Civil Affairs

We were the 606th Civil Affairs Group
Out of Smyrna, Georgia,
Reservists in a still-cold war,
Viet Nam looming ahead.
The Army imagined that
We might provide a military government
For a country somewhere,
That Capt. DeJean and I,
A young Latin teacher by trade,
Might run the public schools
Of, shall we say, Iraq .
Mercifully this did not happen.
We played at things.
Capt. DeJean would say,
“Gentlemen, the weapon is instruction
And you are the target.”

Records show me qualified
To fire a .45
But I never held one in my hands.
I did hold a knife
To slice bologna for our lunch
At those awful all-day Saturday,
All-day Sunday meetings.
 
I wrote the unit newspaper,
Along with Neddie, before he came out,
Our biggest story the day the CO died,
At his desk at one of those
Awful all-day Saturday,
All-day Sunday meetings.
The colonel had changed
Letters in his name,
To make it seem
More American, more Protestant.
The unit has since disbanded,
The armory closed.
So he never got to execute
The plan he loved to show us,
Pointer clicking against the blackboard,
His chart of the table
Of organization and equipment,
Advanced Logistics, Base Logistics.
ADLOG and BALOG,
He would intone,
And here, God love ’em,
Are the groups.

Byron Beynon

Byron Beynon lives in Swansea, Wales. His work has appeared in several publications including London Magazine, Poetry Wales, Poetry Ireland, The Red River Review, Worcester Review and the human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets). Recent collections include Human Shores (Lapwing Publications, Belfast) and The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions).”

THE SKETCH

My father once sketched
my mother recovering in bed
from a miscarriage,
the hurt he never revealed
but exorcized in their room,
corners of silence
as she slept unaware;
a hard pencil
working the shadow of moist grief
from his mind,
his hand moving across the page
to capture the crystalline mirror of the moment,
losing himself on the paper's cheekbones
in rhythm with senses which gazed
for so long
as the rain-swept afternoon
continued without respite,
a wasteland of hope
under a patchwork
which neither memory nor heart could erase.

Greg Moglia

Greg Moglia is a veteran of 27 years as Adjunct Professor of Philosophy of Education at N.Y.U. and 37 years as a high school teacher of Physics and Psychology.His poems have been accepted in over 200 journals, including Rattle and Bellowing Ark, as well as five anthologies. He is six times a winner of an Allan Ginsberg Poetry Award sponsored by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College.

INFERNO

Every kid agreed Carly's a tough teacher
No excuses... do the work
She says The kids think I'm a bitch
They respected her - a costly strength seeped from her
And about that strength...

Here's eight-year-old Carly watching the glow
Beneath her bedroom door
Knows if the light goes out her father will have
No guide for his steps to her room

If it stays on she knows father will enter…and enter
Her father a homicide detective, creates a chaos
A witness of the death of lambs takes his very own
Towards the terror his eyes have seen

At the yearly family gatherings the secret lies festering
Decades pass and then father with terminal cancer
She at his bedside for the last three days and nights
Air full of regrets and apologies
Then he's gone in her arms
She wants to forgive…but can't

And what comes to her
That last Father's Day when Carly risks
A gift shirt and tie and he waits until  
They're alone in the family kitchen
She hears Come here honey
A clasp, then his kiss at her lips

A MAN IS NOT SUPPOSED TO GIVE IN TO TEARS

Especially when reading a book review in Starbucks
A therapist might call it depression
But I don’t give a damn
The review—Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road
About the end of the world as we know it
And a father and son as survivors
And the line at Starbucks is longer
Than the line for communion at church
McCarthy writes When there’s nothing else
Construct ceremonies out of the air
See I’m crying about the line at Starbucks
Wise asses would say sure
Four bucks for a cup of coffee deserves a cry
Across the street the Mex workers on a break look on
Come to think of it, I have never seen one in line
No matter McCarthy again When you die it’s the same
As if everyone else did too
Death and all that, but these tears?
Because it seems so close and I have
A grandchild and two more on the way
And mostly I like the world
And the air in autumn is the sweetest
Yes, sweeter even than spring
Autumn and the bit of death it brings
My agreement with the Big Guy
I’ll take a piece of you, but not full tilt
Not the whole show and look at the construction site
Who said If nature is so great then why these structures?
See the bricklayers minus helmets and the wind has picked up
And how many bricks on the edge and I am alive
Because the hammer that fell off the building
Struck my father not on his skull, but on his nose
So I get to wait for the day of the bombs
Lucky, lucky me but my new grandchild, my Jarrett
Has so many days to go, so many days

previously published in Rattle

THREE MEN WITH SHOPPING CARTS

One in his eighties head down, hands tight to the cross bar, his face at a bit of a scowl
The other in his fifties circles the bananas chooses three for the older fellow’s cart
Their loose jeans and sloppy two day old white shirts seem copies of each other
Probably unplanned, and then the younger says Three bananas enough, Dad?
The old man just nods and as they shuffle about, the son drops milk, tuna fish, cheese
All into father’s cart –all with Ok, Dad? and the nod until they reach the granola
The son flips a box into Dad’s cart then pulls it out and begins to read the label
Lots of sugar in this stuff… looks up at his father blank and silent
Drops the box back into the cart and they match my moves round the store
Dairy to produce to soups to vitamins, always a bit in my way
Yet in the 5 p.m. crowd the two of them isolated, as if shopping at midnight
The fifth time I hear… Dad… I imagine their life together
Filled with no touch, no direct look, always business to take care of
But that fifth Dad lingers, pulls me closer and I see
‘Treasure Island’ the book to be read
A boy’s hop onto his father’s lap

previously published in Abramelin

Ty Cronkhite

Currently Ty Cronkhite is eating an egg salad sandwich on the small back patio of his home in Greeley, Colorado as he watches an empty Coca-Cola bottle negotiate the irrigation ditch that runs between his backyard and the nearby Seven-Eleven.  Several weeks ago he got drunk, built a small raft, pinned his MFA degree to it, doused it with gasoline, set it on fire and sent it down that same irrigation ditch in a tiny parody of a Viking funeral, just so he could have something interesting to say the next time an editor asked him for a short biographical note.  It turned out not to be that interesting.
 

REGARDING NOTHING

Legend of mind
symbol of everything
that slipped away
arbitrary reason for existence
for pressing forth.
I remain a laggard so the past
can catch up.
 
Parallel
paths that might meet again
someday if I just keep going
at about the same speed
and vibrate on
roughly the same
frequency at which I imagine
her to be.
 
If only to exist with her
contemporaneously
the knowledge of this
is sufficient to forget
any happy ending
imagined or
possible
 
when in dreams we meet
now with words reaching
out like tenuous fingers
into a dark box
known to contain
nothing.
  

IRREVERENT PLACEBO

 

Sit down irreverent placebo
prevaricating pill
full of sugar and lies.

Damn you for tricking me into
false happiness,
when really I'm full of sadness
you know.
 
Damn you for making me think myself invisible
safe to walk the crowded streets
with no clothes
an emperor in my mind.
Like some pavlovian dog
strung out on
imaginary treats.
 
Damn you insolent intimator
of falsities and perverse
joy, for not being real
like a shot of Irish whiskey,
and Christmas,
for taking the aggression out
of my passivity
the passion.
 
Let me be in my reckless solitude
crafty med, I have no need for your
pink falsities.
 
Let me be,
but come to me now
let me have you just once more.
 

WATERY GRAVE 

There is an old Chevy in a mossy pond north of here plunged head forward, just the unhinged trunk above the waterline. You can find it only by driving straight drunk at high speed on dark gravel roads, through fields of knee-high corn in summer, because that is how the car ended up there in the first place.
 
When the only law in the farmer's field was a Browning twelve-gauge in the back window
of a Ford truck. When the beer cans were made of the same steel as the cars they drove out of Detroit and Milwaukee. When a cigarette clung effortlessly to the upper lip without killing slowly and the moon shone full at midnight for eight days of thirty-one and nine in July. When the bench seats allowed a girl to sit right up close, his arm dangling over her shoulder as he drove blind drunk into a mossy pond.
 
And there they are,
we imagine from our bucket seats,
submerged and smiling
skeletons of some dangerous love
on this, the ninth full moon in July.

Humid air like a warm blanket,
one soft light hung on a distant barn,
sweet smell of agriculture
bullfrogs, coyotes in the hills to the west
noises of the engine cooling.

THE SOUTH PART OF NORTH CREEK

There are windows in my roof
to the sky.
The treachery of the moon at night
knows no mirrors but of a tricky water funhouse,
body of light.
 
In the snow
full and naked
for the sake of
I have made many foolish promises
in cars, near the south part of North Creek
frozen-
 
-one can believe anything there
in the cold heart of
a heavy winter.
It seems warm
then.
 

SOFT FEATHERS

soft feathers of
silent speed
 
But it is only our world
seems like it’s not moving
as if still
with shadows of cloudy
geometry slipping past
 
they are
uniquely not of our
world
 
Later the faces of the people
the waiters and waitresses
bringing coffee
bartenders in the night
 
Will be the same.

Howard F. Stein

Howard F. Stein is professor emeritus in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA. He is author of 27 books, of which seven are books or chapbooks of poetry. His most recent book of poetry is Raisins and Almonds (Finishing Line Press, 2014). He is poet laureate of the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology.

Black Sparks    

     For Juhani Ihanus 

Here all sparks are black;
they spit from inner fire,
penetrate the blinding lies of light,
till at last one can see.
 
They expose to scrutiny
the Pied Piper’s fatuous
illumination: “Follow me,
and I will lead you
to the Promised Land,”
a way lit by sun and moon,
incandescence and fluorescence –
to everyone’s ruin
except the Piper’s.
People follow him
to the edge of a cliff,
then drop into oblivion,
still singing his tune.
He is the only one
to stand his ground.
Who can fault the Pied Piper?
He showed everyone the way;
they could see for themselves
exactly where they were headed.
Few did not join this irresistible march.
 
The black sparks quietly waited
to salvage what they could
of those who stayed behind.
Better darkness than this light.
Gather the black sparks
and redeem the world.
 

Richard Dinges, Jr.

I have an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa and I manage business systems at an insurance company.  Rio Grande Review, Writer's Bloc, Illya's Honey, Pulsar, and Abbey most recently accepted my poems for their publications.
 

Merry-Go-Round

Through another rotation,
a merry-go-round suffers
its dizzying limbo,
a zoo frozen
beneath children
who cling to cold steel poles,
rushing into a future
that repeats itself
in faces of strangers
who stare with set smiles
and parents who look
beyond, a blur
that vanishes over
our shoulders,
somewhere on
the other side
of prancing stallions.

Mirage

Reflected in glass panes,
trees smear yellow green
into blue gray.  Swirled
among shadows and dappled
glints from unseen sun,
I see frenzy in this life.
Looking inward, painted
over granite counters, chrome
faucets, my wife’s back
passes through nature’s
wild dance, a ghost
in a mirage.  I wait
outside, measuring moments
in heart beats for the right
time to return inside.

William G. Davies, Jr.

I am 59 years old and I’ve recently celebrated 39 years of marriage. I’ve been writing for a very long time and only wish it had been longer. miller’s pond, The Cortland Review, Diluted Ink, The Wilderness House Review and many others have blessed me. I am the 2013 Poet Laureate for Perry County, Pennsylvania.

Late Day

The leaves left
on the trees are dry
in warm, October sun.
They make a consumptive sound
similar to that of wrinkles
boring into youth.

Gabriella M. Belfiglio

I am the second place winner of this year’s W.B. Yeats Poetry Contest.  My work has appeared most recently in Radius. I have appeared in Lambda Literary Review as the featured poet.  I have also had writing published in the award-winning anthology Poetic Voices Without Borders, as well as The Dream Catcher’s Song, Avanti Popolo, Folio, The Centrifugal Eye, and The Potomac Review among other places.

Venomed Heart

I spit at the sight
of red pickup trucks—
without thinking
like jerking fingers
away from hot.
There are restaurants
I refuse to enter,
neighborhoods I shudder
at the mention of,
countries I quickly turn
the page of the atlas past,
a whole continent I want to banish.
 
I no longer wear,
the tight black number
that flares out of its
green ribbon waist.
I remember dancing
into the night of my 33rd
the fabric slipping nimbly
up my coveted thighs.
 
There are sweet fruits
I shy away from,
songs I can’t hear sung,
a recipe of ingredients
I decline to mix into dishes.
 
My radioactive list
blood-red neon
skull and crossbones
flashing Don’t
Look Here.

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. His poetry and fiction have appeared in print and online publications in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found here: http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/

Letter to an Estranged Middle-Aged Son

The older I get the more I realize
the importance of getting things done
before your mother announces another

assignment to roust me from my hammock.
As you know I've never been much
around the house, my skills limited to

raking leaves and shoveling snow,
menial tasks I haven't missed in years.
Probably not since you lived here.

Your mother, of course, grew up on a farm
and has always liked getting things done.
But she's getting older too. In fact,

she recently had a big operation
and I've pitched in beyond my skill set
despite new stents and a pacemaker.

But even though we just put away
the walker, cane and wheelchair,
all three are on alert so I believe

it's best to let you know that
one of these days the one who's left
will ring you up and let you know.

JD DeHart

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  His work has appeared in Eye On Life Magazine and Eunoia Review, among other publications.

Tupelo

she gives us the costly
taste of warm times,
the thick mix made by bees
with no stings,
sweeting the bitter taste
of the tea we consume,
lapping heavy over lips.

Lava

tangles and troubles
burning hot mass
were the gifts Pandora gave
even though she was thought
beautiful by the blind men
who should have fixed eyes
on Aphrodite or Helen
wasting their prom invitations
on the box opener,
the bringer of earthly grief.