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Volume 17, Issue 1
Winter 2014

Joan Howard Donal Mahoney Chet Corey Nina Sokol Melissa Davis David Thornbrugh>
Simon Perchik Laura Carter Laurie Kolp Lee Marc Stein Laura Jent Doug Draime
Cristine A. Gruber Thomas Zimmerman Jesse Breite Michael Estabrook> Clinton Van Inman Roger Desy
Adam White Larry Kelts John Grey Yermiyahu Ahron Taub Joan Colby Robert Demaree
William D. Ford A.J Huffman Rena Lee

A.J Huffman

A.J Huffman has published five solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses; her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals. The founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press, http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com/, she is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest.

Blue Ribbon Bowl

Chili.
Blistering bath
of beef and beans. Carnal
conglomeration of red hot
spices.

Always the Answer

Chanel.
Fashion’s Buddha.
Champion of basic
black dress. Mistress of elegance.
Classic.

from Fruit this Fall

Apple.
First temptation.
Snake’s sinful offering.
Irresistible orb begets
lone bite.
 

Joan Howard

Joan Howard has an MA in German literature, taught school, and now enjoys birding and kayaking on beautiful Lake Chatuge in Georgia. Her poetry has been published in the Aurorean, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Lucid Rhythms, Victorian Violet Press, The Deronda Review and others.

Exhaustion

Moth ashes lift, spread in bright air,
last remnants of branches blown down
by winter gale, four inches of rain
sheeting in two hours. Some cinders,
large as oak leaves, twirl upward,
black ridges shining, delicate as crepe
to dissolve instantly, leave no stain.
Limbs heavy with life, storm delivered,
risen.

Lee Marc Stein


Lee Marc Stein is a retired direct marketing consultant living in East Setauket and now leads workshops at Stony Brook University’s Lifelong Learning program on modern masters of the novel. His poems have been published in River Poets Journal, Still Crazy, Blue Lake Review, Blue & Yellow Dog, and Blast Furnace, among many others. He is completing a chapbook of ekphrastic poems.

Whistler Hits the Motherlode
Well before Motherwell

After painting The White Girl,
the artist began calling his works
symphonies, arrangements,
harmonies, nocturnes:
As music is the poetry of sound,
so is painting the poetry of sight.


Focused on tone and surface, he laid down
a touch-pad for particular textures,
dry-brushed the front of his mistress’s dress
to let the white underneath show through
and render the material gauzy.
Her red hair offered perfect contrast
to the subtly of the background.
Bear-skin rug, blue of the carpet
and color of the flowers all offset
the woman in white.
Her impassive face and limp arms
complemented white on white, highlighting
color harmony as his only real subject.

Is Whistler just whistling Dixie?
This is not the painting we created:
Start with a full-scale society portrait
that’s a Victorian lesson in morality.
White tones and the lily imply purity,
but the lily is broken and Joanna’s dress
and disheveled hair whisper impropriety.
Her chastity suppresses the fierce bear
whose head is thrust menacingly toward us.
Portrait of a bride on the morning after,
Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, or the Virgin Mary
come to save us from eternal explication.

After Whistler, Symphony in White No. 1

Michael Estabrook


After 40 years of working for “The Man” and sometimes “The Woman” Michael Estabrook is finally free. No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms. He can concentrate instead on making better poems and on pursuing his other interests including: history, art, music, theatre, opera, and his wife who is still the most beautiful woman he has ever known.

Real Man

Bringing his grandson
to his old Kung-Fu school
the master embraces him
takes him by the shoulders
come back come back to class

And he wants to
really loved the intensity
punishing workouts
kicks throws strikes swords and sticks

And the camaraderie of those tough guys
roofers plumbers carpenters garage mechanics
who never beat him up very bad
he was the oldest in the class
doing his best

So he can’t help thinking
to hell with sore muscles bruised forearms
and shins jammed wrists twisted knees
and ankles small price to pay
to feel strong disciplined in control
powerful like a real man again

Cake

St. Simeon Stylites lived
atop a 50-foot pillar
in the Syro-Arabian desert
for 39 years.

“Piece of cake,” he was heard to have whispered
that final day when while attempting
to rise from his praying position
he leaned too far forward
and plummeted to his death
in the boiling hot sand below,
smiling all the way down.
“Finally, thank God,” he murmured
his last words
to no one in particular.


William Ford

This past year William Ford has had work in Big River Poetry Review, Brilliant Corners, The Weary Blues, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Wisconsin, and elsewhere. He is a retired professor (and editor) and has published two books of poems, The Graveyard Picnic (Mid-America, 2002) and Past Present Imperfect (Turning Point, 2006) and two chapbooks.

At Crow Agency, Montana

In August the grass above the Little Big Horn
turns the color of his hair and the graveyard markers
and the hillside stones, where each blue coat fell,
go as white as white wash can paint them.
You can buy a map or walk the trails yourself.

The Indians have no stones but a woman stands by who says
she is a Crow in the employ of the federal government--
her job, to watch over the diorama and to explain
how it was that the many nations, except her own,
united to save the holy Black Hills from Custer
until Ghost Dancers danced their last at Wounded Knee
fourteen years later.
                         A mile away, sunlight pools
in the hogbacks of rusted cars and broken glass.

Love’s Archivist

How many moons without you? It happens.
Time screws a steady absence out of love
that was once so wonderful nothing

in particular was at end when we’d end.
Now I put a few words together
faking the scholarship I said I had

seeking the source, the true tale of joy.
All trysts since go down badly
to such memory.


Jesse Breite

Jesse Breite’s recent poetry has appeared in Tar River Poetry, The Nashville Review, and Prairie Schooner. He has been featured in Town Creek Poetry and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V: Georgia. FutureCycle Press published his first chapbook, The Knife Collector, in November. Jesse lives with his wife, Emily, in Atlanta, Georgia, but he was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and considers it his home.

Wisdom

Solomon asked for a hearing heart
which is the request that I have

for God as I sit in my living room
staring at the snow being summoned

to the ground through the curtains
that have quit their white song

and commenced off-white dwindling.
I try to listen with my heart open

which is difficult when communicating
with your mother or any other

angelic face. The muted men on the TV
want to have a sincere conversation

about NCAA basketball. The coffee
table is an altar of unopened letters

and empty glasses. Gratitude departs
unless it is taught. What I once had

of experience pushes out of my skin
like hair. I think of my father who

is practicing the art of Zen mopping,
licking the shine out of floor.

He says this is the only way to clean
a heart.
He has his own book of proverbs.

He is cleaning up my circulations,
tearing down the blockades inside.

I am a man on the lonely throne
of my body, in the castle of thought.

Footsteps drum in my chest. I’m at the door.
A snowflake lands and dissolves in my eye

like a tear returning to the blue, as if God
said here, take this back and remember

that you are in love—you always were;
you always will be.

Human Beings

are such a good idea in retrospect—
perhaps not in the awkward cubicle
of each moment, but the way we spin
ourselves after the green and red lights,
after action releases word or word re-
leases action. And suddenly we’re
warm enough to melt the bright butter,
the butter inside that makes what’s raw
better than before, leaves me singing:
you say goodbye, and I say hello, hello,
hello. I don’t know why you say goodbye.
I say revise, revise, reuse. Make what
you can of the rain. Misery is the only
machine I consider miraculous. Being in
is never as pleasant as departure with
your little rolled and ribboned diploma
of pain. And there you are with disbelief.
Who knew shame could never just fall out
of our heads like baby teeth? But we call it
beautiful, this living. Those who don’t,
they jump out the window. And this is
also called an aesthetic. It doesn’t matter.
Give a man a gun, and he’ll make jellybeans.
No one can bear the burden of honesty.
What you and I are most afraid of,
we can never tell. We feed what’s easy
and soft to one another. Anxiety killed
the cat, but some human hearts were
made for endurance. So take it—what
you can get—and make what you can of it.
And when it gets going, keep after it
with that big net and those wonderful eyes.

Thomas Zimmerman


Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the writing center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His chapbook In Stereo: Thirteen Sonnets and Some Fire Music appeared from The Camel Saloon Books on Blog in 2012. Tom's website: http://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/

In Praise of the Unconscious

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth is on the stereo,
I’m reading George Seferis, trying hard
to write heroically. It’s hopeless. So
I have to be myself. I teach the Bard
to college kids but cannot reach the height
of Hamlet, Lear, or Sonnet 73.
I do the usual, I laud the light:
The geese we saw this morning flying free
and veering south were gilded underneath
by sunrise.
This is how I’ve captured it.
I’m better when I burn the laurel wreath,
admit that Zimmerman’s an idiot
most days awake, and let the shadow world
undress my learning like a shroud unfurled.

The Pharaoh and the Bee

The ale I drink is living amber. I,
the bee that’s being trapped. Eternal corpse!
Goodbye to change, the endless flow that warps
the wood, that strips the petals, lets them fly
to field or city street, to decompose,
or, rather, recombine their atoms, range
and swirl, creating compounds rich and strange.
Or, drinking deep, alone, I’m more like those
Egyptian pharaohs mummified, no queen
alive to help make meaning, afterlife
an incense dream, patchouli-scent for wife.
Canopic jars and hieroglyphs, a lean
and stony king. . . . Besides these things, what’s left?
A line. And now a single word: Bereft.

Cristine A. Gruber

Cristine A. Gruber has had work featured in North American Review, Writer’s Digest, Writers’ Journal, The Endicott Review, and The Iconoclast. She has been a featured poet in Writer’s Digest. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Lifeline, was released by Infinity Publishing and is available from Amazon.com.

Fragility

How anything
is true
is so very fragile…
a moment of belief
dangling over
a pool of uncertainty,
aided by
one careless qualm,
and the true
becomes
the fallen,
lost and drowning
beneath
the polished black
surface of doubt
and suspicion.

Donal Mahoney


Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Revival (Ireland) and other publications.

Lemon Underwear


The New Morse Hotel
Chicago, circa 1970

What if after Browne has gone
one of us discovers who Browne was,
leads the rally to his room before
the maid has time to broom the webs,
retrieve from underneath the bed
the sweat-stiff socks, the lemon underwear?

What if before he leaves Browne scrawls
across the dresser’s dust: “I have leased
new quarters and have gone to them.
Don’t give the clothes you find here to the poor.
Don’t burn the books. Beware the next
who rents this room, who leaves it only after dark,

who screams if the maid knocks once
to ask if she may clean. When he arrives
have four men bear him, belly down, downstairs.
Tell them: 'Pitch him out across the lawn!
Let him land in a lake of sun.
Let him drown there.' ”

Melissa Davis

Melissa Davis is a doctoral student and teacher. She has had poems and fiction pieces published with journals such as Leaves of Ink and The Circle Review. Her nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the American Reading Forum Yearbook and The Commonline Journal.

Autobiography

(A Glosa Poem)

“My heart is what it was before,
A house where people come and go;
But it is winter with your love, -
The sashes are beset with snow.”

- Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Alms”

The future is not what it seems.
I dreamed this future for years.
It would be happy and carefree,
It would be fair. Yet the first of the
Future is disappointment.
To work until I am sore
And what do I get in return?
To be yelled at, belittled, and ruined.
The job has become a bore.
My heart is what it was before,

But the body is not the same
The future is not what it seems.
I dreamed this future for years.
To strengthen and stretch and tone
To what end does this come?
My energy has never been so low.
My hips and thighs never so big,
With flabby, saggy, skin
The body that is temple is a no;
A house where people come and go

Is what I dreamed my home would be.
The future is not what it seems.
I dreamed this future for years.
My own middle-class prince charming
To slip me off my feet and into
An average life-like glove.
To finally feel something like affection
And have it expressed in return.
Even a greater emotion from above
But it is winter with your love

A love that is missing from my life.
The future is not what it seems.
I dreamed this future for years.
But the future became black -
Blackened with anxiety, sadness, loneliness.
It is my own life that I know,
Better than anyone else, or not?
My thoughts are clouded in my mind
The confusion does drag me below
The sashes are beset with snow.

Words

From words come emotions
Ecstasy, melancholy, jealous, anger
Jumbled together causing commotion
A few syllables hold so much danger

Ecstasy, melancholy, jealousy, anger
Passing lips of a daily basis
A few syllables hold so much danger
Words never lie in stasis

Passing lips of a daily basis
Escaping without a second thought
Words never lie in stasis
With their meanings so rarely forgot

Escaping without a second thought
Said in honor, malice, or boredom
With their meanings so rarely forgot
Not actions, but words hold a greater sum

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow
From words come emotions
Taking flight from breath, to wherever they may go
Jumbled together causing commotion

Laurie Kolp

Laurie Kolp lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three kids and two dogs. Her first full-length poetry collection, Upon the Blue Couch, is slated for release March 2014 through Winter Goose Publishing. She blogs at http://lkharris-kolp.blogspot.com/ and http://lkkolp.wordpress.com/.

Drunk on a Park Bench

It’s spring in autumn, or so it seems
as I perambulate around the park bench
trying to wake you with pokes and catcalls

but the Vodka stench seeps through the air
and I tire of holding ceremony
just to snatch a place to eat
my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Behind you, a flutter. A male cardinal
surfs on low branches while a female
hops across the dirt. I want them
in their redness to join
what has now become my mission

but the redbirds look
at me and fly away
while you roll
onto the ground
with a thump.

Clinton Van Inman

 

Clinton Van Inman was born in Walton-on-Thames, England in 1945, grew up in North Carolina, graduated from San Diego State University in 1977, and has been an educator most of his life currently teaching high school in Tampa Bay where he lives with his wife, Elba. Recent publications include Sheephead Review, UK Poetry Library, Mouse Tales, Poetry, and Indiana University Spirits.

Real Love

Real love comes
Not with arrows
But with shovels
Picks and wheelbarrows.

I’d Rather Be

I’d rather be a handful of ashes
Than a truckload of dust.
I’d rather be unknown
Than a big bronze bust.
I’d rather be a meteor than a moon.
Or a lake than a lagoon
Or a knife than a spoon.
But of all the things
I’d rather be with you.

Fireflies

They glitter and glow like stars
Yet the ones we catch and place in jars
Will not shine as if to refuse
Until we open the lid and turn them loose
But just like us whether fly or kid
No light shines under glass or lid.


Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of four books of poetry, Prayers of a Heretic/Tfiles fun an apikoyres (2013), Uncle Feygele (2011), What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn (2008), and The Insatiable Psalm (2005). Honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists, Taub has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net award. Please visit his web site at www.yataub.net.

The Problem of Cacophony

Malvinia remembers song.
She remembers the light of her mother’s hand on her shoulder
steering her through wild grass, to the siren call of the organ,
to praise surging from a threadbare white building
to which she and her mother were forbidden entry.
She remembered how they both crouched in the weeds to be near,
her mother’s breath damp and scalding in her ear as she sang in acclaim
of His beneficence and the certainty of their place among the rewarded.

Malvinia remembers song.
She remembers the ditties of men as they lurched up the stairs and rapped
on the door of their shack. She remembers the shapes of those treads, the
shatter of those raps, the cadences of those ditties before those raps,
the murmuring, the negotiation, her mother telling her to “hide” behind
the curtain, then the bedsprings squeaking, then the words or the hush
that followed. Whether there would in fact be words or hush.
Malvinia always knew. Malvinia always remembered.

Malvinia remembers song.
She remembers songs from her first phonograph,
when she swore her path would be different, her own entirely.
She remembers songs of customers arriving late,
the refrains as she wiped the countertops of mustard, as she scoured the
cups of coffee dust. She remembers melodic lines as she lay unmoving
on the floor of her room gradually reddening as the door closed finally
behind he who might have been if he could only have been otherwise.

Malvinia remembers song.
She remembers all of these songs or parts of them—excerpts, snippets,
strands. Call them what you will. They converge in a crescendo of
confusion; they create thunder in her cosmos.
She bows her head; she shouts! These are what devour Malvinia.
These are what have sustained Malvinia.
These are what sustain her still as she sings to passersby, as she
smiles at the few who drop coins, the fewer still who look up in so doing.

Roger Desy

For careers taught literature and creative writing and edited technical manuals. His plan throughout was to write. The past few years he has come back to short lyrics, where he began and continues to find himself. Poems are in Cider Press Review, Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, The Pinch, Poet Lore, and other journals. He writes, "I think of my work as 'new romantic' — an effort that integrates the conscience and the physical senses of a small soul with the heart of nature, a promise made by the core romantics but never realized."

adoration

when i die — heaven will have neither your god

nor my father nor the angels of my lesser acts
waiting for me with open arms with wings

feathering molts of opal cumulus


on fields of gold and pearl littered with harps
and choruses and croisered lambs — and it will also


not have the paraphernalia hell needs to sustain
a paranoia for unforgivable temperatures



    — instead — i half expect to find a state of change
balanced in windshear on a rising freefall feeling


blowing across the dust of empty spaces


settling out into a peace to understand
humility commensurate with the passion

in the oblivion of common love


(first printed in Edgz, Nov. 2008)


Joan Colby

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, and Prairie Schooner. She has published eleven books including The Lonely Hearts Killers, The Atrocity Book and her newest book from Future Cycle Press—Dead Horses. FutureCycle has just published Selected Poems.

Putting Up the Produce

Glass jars glow in dimness. Pale jade
Of peas or lima beans, the garnet hearts
Of beets, tinged amber of peaches, crushed pearl
Of applesauce. Jewelers of the garden,
My mother and her sisters putting up
Everything that rose and bristled
Or hid its gritty treasure
In the dirt. They plundered trees. They
Went to market with their baskets
Collecting riches. Cast iron pots rattled
At the boil, the hot jars filled, rubber lips
Secured the way that secrets
Were kept—were screwed into Sunday
Missals. All winter from the cellar to the table.
Occasionally an explosion like a child
In a tantrum. My mother said it had
Gone bad. Tone of disapproval dull
As a fork dropped on linoleum.
Tommy’s overdose. Uncle Andy who forgot
His name and blacked the eye of his wife of
Sixty years. Whispers sealed in jars
Covered in dust to be discovered
Years later when a woman of forty comes to visit,
Child of a maiden cousin, birthed in seclusion,
And now here, real as ruby preserves
Set out in crystal saucers.


Adam White

Adam White is from Cork in the south of Ireland, but lives in France at present. After having two poems included in the summer 2012 issue of miller’s pond, he went on to publish his first collection of poetry, Accurate Measurements, in April 2013. The collection was shortlisted in England for a Forward prize for best first collection and is available from Dorie Press. He is working on a second book.

Mickey Filth

From the rain and mire months
(those oilskins his only hope of shelter),
to the hardhat’s dust and sweat
summer softening on the sweatband,
he slogs it out in all weathers
to work off a penance.
Straddling steel in house foundations
or down laying shit pipe
in the soup of trenches,
he’s a ground worker with a dirt wish.

All week you may suffer his dirt
and silence, but he has been sentenced
slowly to the rest of his life.
Nights out, he’ll extinguish
the flicker of a conversation
like he grinds each butt out
in the smoking ashtray,
drown the drought of good company
in as many cold pint bottles
as loved ones who left on the Big C.


David Thornbrugh

David Thornbrugh is a West Coast poet long resident in Seattle, Washington, where he satisfies his poetic needs mostly by reading at local open mics. His most recent publications have been in Clark Street Review, The Artistic Muse, Blue Collar Review, and Convergence.

Born Holding Shovels

Every day the price of dying
becomes a little higher.
And we call this inflation,
stacking one breath atop another
until the pile collapses.
The crushed gravel swept up
poured into tulip cups
becomes our children’s inheritance.
Each generation erects new mountains
to climb by pushing the stars
a little further away by staring.
Because we carry it in our hands,
fold it into our wallets,
we forget money is an abstraction.
At the bottom of a pit,
men in rubber boots stare
at an immense rotating screw
disappearing into muddy water.
Either digging graves or excavating
palace foundations, we have to move
a lot of dirt just because
we’re born holding shovels.


Laura Carter

Laura Carter is a writer living in Atlanta, where she earned her MFA in 2007.

A Turning

If you had been able to see
inside the forest
you would have made alacrity
your middle name. But alas, this was not
how you would render a world.
This world outside a fullness
dreams darkly at times. But look! here is a golden thread for you,
my friend, you with Rapunzel hair and watch
set to the arcade’s old time.
If you see inside this world, let your friend know.
A town so stunningly awkward
appears to leave scars where a heart could be.
And what is a heart without a scar?
Almost entire, and all correct.

Larry W. Kelts

Larry Kelts grew up on a dairy farm in north-central Pennsylvania. After working as a farmer, factory machinist, laboratory technician, and research scientist he obtained an MFA from Bennington College and now resides in northern Delaware where he writes poetry and frequents the art scene in Delaware and Philadelphia.

Rough Cut

1

I push through brush
and undergrowth,

I’m hunting grouse,
but flush only shadows

of my son. Last night
he returned late

and tempered—he flashed,
then shot from sight.

Ahead, our beagle
noses through a thicket

of locusts: locusts
my father planted years ago.

2

And I stumble
over a buried vine

tripping against
a snow-encrusted stump

where we cut
posts last spring and fall

to my knees
beside a rough cut and listen

there as the wind
whistles through

a thorny fist
of bare sprouts.

3

Schooled in storms
such as this,

when a whirr explodes
from the underbrush

I’m too quick to fire.

When You Run

When you run you run into the sound
of plans made and all you might achieve—
music draws your feet across the ground.

Sometimes you pitch and push as if bound
to break from the chorus of reprieve
then, you run and run without a sound.

When you lose key my song comes unwound
like thread severed to loosen the weave—
your feet feel music beneath the ground.

You test the silence, then look around.
Fidgeting, you smile and make believe
that when you run you run for the sound.

Your memory, sound and rewound,
runs deeper than I can hope to retrieve
as the music draws you underground.

Something heard and danced is something found.
It’s time to choose how, or if we cleave
for when you run you run without sound,
music draws your feet into the ground.

Chet Corey

Chet Corey’s poetry most recently has appeared in Benedictines Magazine, Shark Reef, Talking Stick, Windhover and Wopozi. He lives with his wife Kathy in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The Live-In Babysitter

All I remember about Marna
is the polio brace she wore on her wrist

and left up attic
in the small hot room in which she slept.

And that Saturdays
she brought us to horror movie matinees.

Aren’t those memories enough
for a child of three?

Coots

gather on Lake Harriet .

They might as well be
crows or sparrows.

No one cares much.

When children come
to feed ducks dayold bread
torn into pieces
the mother yanks them away.
"They're only coots."

They might as well be
old gum
chewed too long.

The kids' mother would say,
"Spit it out!"

Only coots.

And what about
that old coot, that grandfather
alone on a bench,
looking out across the lake
at those old coots?

Robert Demaree

Robert Demaree is the author of four collections of poems, including Fathers and Teachers and Mileposts. Recently his poems received first place in contests sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He has had over 650 poems published or accepted by 150 periodicals. For further information, see http://www.demareepoetry.blogspot.com

The Aluminum Saucepan

After tutoring
My father would come back to our apartment
For some coffee
Before heading up the hill
To dinner with 400 boarding school boys.

He would heat the dark, day-old residue
In a battered aluminum saucepan,
Bending over to light his cigarette
In the stove’s gas flame.
Then he would turn on
The news from Philadelphia,
Calmer voices then,
On the square Philco
Black-and-white TV.

What became of that saucepan,
Meant for science,
To be examined, like
The lead-laced cooking pots
Those foolish Romans
Never figured out?
Perhaps that boiling, burnt aroma,
Olfactory knife across the years,
Set in motion a chain of tangled proteins,
Endless repetitions, checking the thermostat.
And what have we ingested,
Or should we consume
(Genetic inclinations resisted without force),
That might forestall or hasten
An outcome that varies in some ways
But not in others, different roads
Leading to the same place?

The smell of old coffee hangs in the air,
And I wonder if the A’s won last night.

John Grey

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recent publications include International Poetry Review, Sanskrit and the science fiction anthology, Futuredaze, with work upcoming in Clackamas Literary Review, New Orphic Review and Nerve Cowboy.

The Visiting Life

Diving to the hospital,
there are just thoughts..
what might have beens.
A lovely setting.
the park below, the lake,
the tall white cross-tipped tower above.

Orchards bloom above the waters,
children, women bathe,
somewhere a twig crack
proclaims the hikers in the forest.
White, impasto flowers,
and an old man fly-fishing,
more than enough enticements
but nothing to spur conversation.

It's beautiful.
Do we have to go in?
The lifetimes are here, in the open air,
the road, the cliff, the oaks, the pines,
hills of foliage with their heads turned to the sun.
Living's two sizes too big
to fit through those automatic doors.
Who wants to feel the squeeze
of sanitized walls,
watch it all shatter.

But we're a sorry bunch of ragamuffins
as we traipse out of the world
and into this dead zone
of doctors and nurses,
patients on stretchers
always being wheeled somewhere.
What do these Latin words mean?
Where are the woods?
An old woman reaches out to me
like she knows me,
calls me Peter,
is dragged away by two bullies
in white jackets.

We seat ourselves beside Aunt Gwendolyn,
this woman from another century.
She whispers like a reed in my wife's ear.

The kids' fingers tango on the bedside table.
I look out the window at the garden.
The azaleas are in bloom.
Isn't that the point of it all?
To be in bloom?

But here I am
assuring the bedpost that it's going to heaven.
A nurse comes by with paper and crayons
for the kids.
Gwendolyn reaches futilely for a sheet.
Creaky-fleshed,
she want to scribble her confession:
torrid tasks, bloody vagina,
cow-bells, horseback to school,
some good curse words...
but her hand senses nothing but the pain.

The staff have been at her hair.
No privacy
but a gray sparkling halo at least.
They've scrubbed her body,
prettied up her veins, her wrinkles,
for her guests.
My wife kisses her cheek.
The kids are at the point where boredom leads to violence.
And the garden's finished telling me that,
as a place, a hospital is as reasonless as a rattle-snake.
Leave before it bites.

Our car crawls out from below
the blinking "Hospital Sign",
the smoke of cigarette fiends.
It's late by this.
The park is hidden away inside itself.
The sun died in our absence.
We're all breathing.
We're all accounted for.
Any truth is the truth.

Orchards are closed.
The lake, the trails, diminished by the dark.
Tents line the narrow stream.
Crickets sing between the sleepers.
 

Simon Perchik

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” and a complete bibliography, please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

*

Attack and this hillside
shows its teeth :each stone
drips with saliva

and even the glaze
can't tell the difference
-- you dig till the sun

enters at last
staggering the way each evening
is burned to the ground

laid bare in the smoke
all stones smell when struck
one against the other

and the dirt dragged away
still struggling
--you only want to share

though your hands won't dry
and each year less room
--you dig as if each hole

is filled with shoreline
could be held back
rebuilt from waves

from valleys and mountain streams
that whiten these stones
with cheeks and emptiness.

Nina Sokol

Nina Sokol is a poet and translator in the midst of translating a series of plays and poems by contemporary Danish writers. Her poems have been translated from English to Danish by the Danish writer Niels Svarre Nielsen. Publications include Ardent: A Journal of Poetry and Art., Nite Writers International Literary Arts Journal, Convergence, and Jerry Jazz Musician.

A Sound in Winter

The words she realized were
her own. The ones whose sounds
she noticed come to life, were
hers, she thought. But they were
not realized because of her
noticing them, they were their
own to begin with, already having
been in existence long before she had
ever taken note of them. And yet, they
had not existed to her before they
were spoken, by her, for the first
time.
Existence, then, depended on her
utterances of them, or was it, in
fact, the utterances of others she
depended upon?
Words she realized existed
independent of her
existence since they had
been heard before her noticing
them. But the words she realized
were her own, since they were
dependent not only on the utterances
of others, but on her utterance,
                                                          alone.
 

Escape

On this soil, imagine
Dying. The shimmer
of an amphibious

death
intrigues-        an indeterminate
descend blurries
life on land, unsettled
as seen from beneath
the surface, an in-betweeness
insufferable and flickering:
Escapist, escape
this. Return, face down into
the land, taste the soil, it
is not
as bad as—
that is, it is akin to,
it is tolerable, indistinguishable, as is
all. Imagine lying upon it, dying, for the
last time. Dismissed images come
to mind, your iridescent eyes
and the millions before them,
irises of insignificance. Wanting to die
beside a specific building in America
is
ridiculous next to this. Next is the belief
in the difference between spaces when we are all
seen in the eyes of another
lover, the eternal one unsuspecting. So
stay.                  Do not
imagine
dying upon this soil for the last time
beneath water and suddenly seeing.
  Imagine that every day the
      world escapes, vanishes in imagination, and
that
some sort
of
sun
remains.

Laura Jent

Laura Jent, 35, lives and works in Durham, NC.  Her work has been published online at sites such as ShampooPoetry.com and LodestarQuarterly.com, as well as in print in ISM, the Independent Weekly, and the Blotter Magazine.  She has self-published one chapbook, Girls and Boys and Music.

Reflection Reflex

What am I afraid of?  Your lips
arc towards mine, fish are jealous
of our pouts, two things meeting
in a wet silence.  Why do I wonder
if we'll break like glass?
Because the mirror is not perfect,
because it never is,
because at some point you were given
different words for your breasts, and your
soft-mound stomach is not from bearing
our child.  No, your shoulders are knotted
from genetics and mine from woman's work.
My thighs are stronger than your hands.
Admit it, cry uncle, beg me to stop!  You never
will.  I carry a scar that cleaves me in two,
both halves mine to give, big peach portions
all on your plate.  What if one day you lose
your appetite? Forgive me, I could never say
I no longer love you.

Birth Story

You were taken.  The O.R. lapsed into silence
that nearly made me drown.  Laughing at my panic,
patting my arm, a half-face loomed.  I heard you cry!
The drugs circumnavigate the hours.  A kiss.  A photograph.
Worry, and me like a pretty puffer fish-- ready to pop.  Policies.
Red tape like seaweed. I cried and thrashed around, until
there was a miracle: a pearl of a nurse.  Finally
the smallest weight of your head in my elbow’s crook.
I floated by my own reflection: the mother of a child.
That night and six more you slept in a lucite box,
wires sounding alarms that the professionals paddled past
without concern.  But my sailing mind fuzzed with faintness
every time they rang.  Somehow, sleep swam toward me,
expectations fighting their way free from my fists,
lecherous little mermaids with teeth.  And a salty solution
of disappointment and elation dripped like tears
off the hem-line of my standard issue sheets.
They mopped me up in the morning; I got to work.

She Grows Up

Surrounded by bright little poppies, lanky lilies, and more,
my child is trapped in a tightly done bud. She can’t see
the rows of blooms, or the easily trained vine.  She might
have glimpsed the garden green through the cracks.  Perhaps
it was the sun, an unseen yellow baking to her core.
I may never know what color lifted her arm, helped form her fist.  
She does battle with a sweet stubbornness.  Somehow, I find a voice
to cheer her name.  Beyond the task, beyond the bloodied knuckles,
I think she hears me.  Whenever our eyes meet, I force my mouth
into a knock-em-dead-kid smile.  She keeps happily wailing at the walls.

Doug Draime

Doug Draime's most recent book is More Than The Alley, a full-length selected collection of poems from Interior Noise Press. A presence in the 'underground' literary since he started publishing in Los Angeles in 1968.Awarded small PEN grants in 1987, 1991, and 1992, in recent years he has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes.

When The Sun Rises

I want to hear
the bird’s song, that’s all. The 
meadowlark in the dense dark oaks,
or the whippoorwill crooning
to and fro in the sun
of the sycamores. I grow so damn
weary of the human sound,
flashing on with its artificial light


and the rat-tat-tat sound
of the collective Ego,
spinning on its
perpetually bloodied,
nowhere wheels. I want to hear
the blue jay high up
in the maple tree, squawking
a shrill celebration. A thrush singing
to me from the birch tree.

Rena Lee

Rena Lee passed away on August 12, 2013. Her work appeared in miller's pond often and last in the Winter 2013 issue; she wrote this poem in Hebrew a few days before her death, and it was translated and published in English in Cyclamens and Swords. You can see an image of her handwritten copy here: http://www.cyclamensandswords.com/rena_lee_1032_2013.php. Her husband offered it to miller's pond.

Encounters

So where are they
all those beautiful encounters
that were not born
Do they still wait for redemption?
Where are they all those
beautiful encounters
destined for us,
whose time has not yet come?
Is there still any point
waiting for them,
not discarding
our trust in them?
are there odds here in our favor
as has been said by lottery
The wisest of times ?
We always wait for them,
and they wait for us.
Our time and their time
entangled together and flee.
Together they are fleeing
far from there and from here
and from the now,
Fleeing, fleeing, eternally on the run
Meantime, we are in a world
that it’s not yet a world.
Waiting for them to come...
to come…