Issue 6 – Open To Sky

Subprimal Poetry Art/Music - Issue 6 - May 2016
Cover art by Cynthia Low
View: Everything | Contents


Introduction

by Victor D. Sandiego

Welcome to issue #6 of Subprimal Poetry Art/Music. We are rapidly approaching our third anniversary of publication, and I’m pleased to say that we’ve been reaching a wider and wider audience – and attracting a more diverse set of writers and artists from around the planet. Naturally, without writers, artists, and readers, we wouldn’t even exist – and so I’d like once again to say thank you everybody for your participation and support.

I don’t talk a lot about myself, nor the work we publish here on Subprimal, preferring instead to let things speak for themselves. However, I would like to say, that as an American ex-pat living in Mexico (going on seven years now), that Subprimal has become a very living connection to writers and artists that I might not otherwise have an opportunity to enjoy. I get to read your words, hear your voices, and admire the panoramic vision of your art.

This issue marks the first time that we’ve had a guest editor making selections, and what a broadening opportunity it’s been. John C. Mannone appears in earlier issues of Subprimal, and when I began to think about who I'd like to ask, his name came to me right away. When I ran it by him, I was very pleased that he not only said yes, but that it would be an honor.

Working with John has been a pleasure. He’s insightful and methodical. He works with writers to develop the best version of a piece possible. He has a knack to look beyond the imperfections we sometimes leave in our writing and see a jewel waiting to be polished.

And so, for our Spring 2016 issue, we have a unique and compelling set of written pieces and art. And, as always, many of the written pieces include a recording of the author’s reading that has been set to a custom musical composition. Enjoy, spread the word, and don't forget to leave your thoughts for our contributors in the comments section.

Victor David Sandiego lives in the high desert of central México where he writes, studies, and plays drums with jazz combos and in musical / poetry collaborations. His work appears in various journals (Cerise Press, Crab Creek Review, Floating Bridge Review, Off The Coast, Generations Literary Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, others) and has been featured on public radio. He is the founder and current editor of Subprimal Poetry Art/Music.

From The Editor

by John C. Mannone

I am pleased to have had the privilege of serving as the guest editor for Spring 2016 issue of Subprimal Poetry Art/Music. After carefully reading and examining the many submissions of poetry, prose and art (approximately 900 pieces), I sadly had to turn away some good pieces. Though I did not reject work for submission guideline noncompliance, I did dismiss work that was devoid of rhythm, as well as clarity, and which had no literary depth. Some pieces did not consider our aesthetics at all (something remedied by a cursory examination of the website and reading/viewing sample work). However, there were many delightful pieces and I believe you will enjoy the works represented.

For example, a few of these fine works appearing here are from notable poets and writers, such as William Doreski's Pearly Chaos, Roberta Feins' House of Straw and Lois Marie Harrod's Seven Deadly Sins, whose deft use of language and imagery make their poems sing, even howl, their haunting aspects. Others take chances with form that serves the contents well, for example, a creative list poem of sorts by Sharon Alexander, My Name Was Once an Argument or the powerful litany by Terry Martin Why Did I Do It?. Conversational verse, even with a measure of passive voice, in the right hands can be powerful poems — rhythm and effective line breaks can help lift them into poetry. For example, Carl Boon’s poignant poem The First Time is more than merely lifted, it is skyrocketed into poetry. In contradistinction, a piece of apparent prose can be actually closer to poetry. Denmark Lane’s piece Día de Los Muertos is so full of compressed writing and resonant with internal music, I’d be remiss not to call it a prose poem. And songs. Songs can be poetry, too. Allen E. Rizzi’s song-like poem Ponokáómitaa was originally written in the Blackfoot language by the author. There is a beauty in simiplicity there.

The visual artists, no less than the literary ones, grace these pages. Their works were the last ones I had selected for the issue. I looked for complemetary pieces, or at least those that were congruent with mood. Perhaps these were the most subjective in my decision on which ones to select… there were many meritorious submissions.

I wish I had time to go into each piece in depth, there is much to be said about every single one appearing here, but alas, my words could be more voluminous than the collected works. So, please enjoy all of them, as I will again after they go live.

John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone has over 450 works published in venues such as Inscape Literary Journal, Windhover, Drunk Monkeys, Artemis, 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar, Southern Poetry Anthology (NC), Still: The Journal, Town Creek Poetry, Tupelo Press, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Raven Chronicles and others. Author of two literary poetry collections—Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing, Jul 2015) and Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press, Dec 2015)—he’s the poetry editor for Silver Blade and Abyss & Apex, and has served as guest poetry editor for Inkspill Magazine (Issue 4, 2011) and Eye To The Telescope (Issue 14, 2014), as well as the 2013 Rhysling Chair. He won the 2015 Joy Margrave award for creative nonfiction and the 2015 Tennessee Mountain Writers poetry award. His work has been nominated three times for the Pushcart. He is a professor of physics in east Tennessee.

Looking Up From The News

by Maggie Kennedy

She expects smoke creeping toward her through the shorn trees.

She won’t be surprised to feel the floor tremble,

to open the door and find scraps floating along the biting gust—

palm-size remnants, a congregation of charred color.

She waits for retreat of engines gaining elevation, and the screams,

the screams melding into stadium rumble.

Yet children are walking to school. A boy steals

his friend’s cap and runs away. The neighbor exits

his door at 8:02 a.m. as usual and folds into his car. A flock

of sparrows play harmony

to forsythia that must have bloomed overnight. Another

Monday with its pent-up trepidations,

its lamentations for the lost weekend, its stored chance for an hour,

a moment to catch the eye of another,

to delve into the sheen that is starting to spread toward her.

An ordinary day she would have passed by

but for this debt. This lease she can only repay by grabbing

what was taken without recourse.

Maggie Kennedy’s poems have been published or accepted in Meat for Tea, Neat, Zone 3, Naugatuck River Review, and The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online. She has also had haiku and haibun published in Frogpond and cattails. Kennedy earned a Master's degree in English and creative writing at The University of Chicago. She is a freelance writer/editor specializing in healthcare topics and lives with her family in a Chicago suburb.

Island

by Toti O'Brien

I understood. Finally.

First, the smell of the sea. Then the smell of fish, so intense along with the smell of bread, it meant life itself. Then the fragments of rope, the consistency of the sail: so sheer in the light, so solid to the touch.

I understood the sense of abandonment and where it came from. The terror of losing the one I loved each time he left, the uncertainty of his return. And the worship of the boat shielding him from the elements, bringing him safely home.

Now I knew why the harbor, lighthouse, foghorn, had such appeal. I had been the fisherman’s wife before, as were my mother, my mother’s mother, back through the centuries. Far into the memory of the island, buried by sand and pebbles I had trod on as a child, while I stared into a blueness only whispering freedom and possibilities, silent about its secret essence.

I had not learned yet how to spell the word loss. But it was engraved in my cells, it circulated in my veins. It just needed to unspool as a fishing line from its reel. My heart firmly hooked, already bleeding.

Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in Boston Accent, The Wax Papers, Thrice Fiction, and Between The Lines, among other journals and anthologies.

Seven Deadly Sins

by Lois Marie Harrod

After Hieronymus Bosch

The faces, the mouths
open, the hungry child eats
cookies made from clay,
eats dust as the pregnant woman
swallows what she craves,
and those kidnappers of sorts,
the Baptists from Idaho, who know
what they are doing,
evidently not enough to convict.
Wouldn’t you promise a child
a swimming pool if you could?
Wouldn’t you promise elsewhere
like I wanted to take my mother?
She died so small, a tremor,
a sparrow curled on her sheet.
And what about the dogs
my sister says, how many dogs
are wandering around Port au Prince,
how many dogs wandering New Orleans,
Fukushima, Baghdad, Bangladesh.
When will the dogs from Somalia,
from Syria, find bones to gnaw.
No one has mentioned the dogs.

Lois Marie Harrod’s most recent collection Nightmares of the Minor Poet appears in May, 2016. Her chapbook And She Took the Heart appeared in January 2016, and her 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey.

Disappearing River

by George Moore

Out of the cupped hands of the high plains,
the river drops into a vein, runs red
through canyons etched in Havasupai echoes,

down to agribusiness run-off in cheap
canals across the line they call the border.
What does not die in the desert

becomes swamp trickles of Mexico.
I stand on a high plateau above eonic change,
and read the flyer from the farmers’ meeting.

What is not used remains unusable. God-trash,
excess of water fetishes, old ravenous appetites.
Palm Springs, the outer dream of L.A.

Climbing out of the Salton Sea, now
an acescent plain, knee-deep in the glue
of pesticides and cosmetics.

Fever rich or sick, a salty drink of alkalines
bleach the riverbottom white, or a Disney,
litmus blue. Postcard perfect,

if painted in the Fifties. The sands reclaim
the imagery of the poem here. The words
cannot escape, they evaporate, light

as lies. Grit the color of tanned flesh,
the mouth of the river is no river falling
into the Sea of Cortez.

I am a contemporary man, loving
the houseboats of Powell Lake, riding
the Roadstar over empty Arizona highways.

So picturesque. Old Mormon proficiencies
of irrigation seem quaint. The ghost of Elvis
sings the death chant of the glit city.

George Moore's collections include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016) and Children's Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015). Nominated for six Pushcart Prizes, and a finalist for both the National Poetry Series and the Brittingham Poetry Award, his work has appeared in The Atlantic, Colorado Review, Arc, Antigonish Review, Orbis, and Valparaiso. After a career at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

My Lord What a Morning, When the Stars Begin to Fall

by Cynthia Low

Regarding her work, the artist says:

This painting is about My Painful Struggle with Depression. It is about that Bliss that is felt at the end of each Consuming, Drowning Dance with Sadness, that Silver Lining, so sweet and so pure. The unfinished edge on right side indicates stress at being confined in a social box. The title comes from words of a Afro spiritual song I learned as a small child that brought me Great Joy.
My Brain Hot, my Skull Drops
Light and Crisp Like Popcorn
Falling Carelessly
Like a Rainbow Drawn Hard and Fierce,
By a Child With Threatening Crayons
The Fallout
The Savage Blue Sky is Haughty
The Sun Arrives, but not Really
Explosions in the Light Hot Darkness
Are Consumed by Mouth

Cynthia Low grows massive flower and vegetable gardens. She sews impossibly beautiful dresses. She also loves literature, poetry, and music, and is a novice guitar geek who studies and collects vintage guitars. She loves animals, She plays the Concertina, and She is So thankful for her four children and four grandchildren.

Cynthia has recent paintings for sale; they may be seen on her web site.

Midsummer XX

by Glen Armstrong

The poets and folksingers
Who weave their parallel universe
Have never heard of you

No naked foot
Hastens upon its wings

No face brightens
As your name is rescued from
Muddled thoughts

Yet you breathe
In and out
Warm nothings

Owing legend everything

Free to slip through windows / bricks
Pines / sleepy witnesses

Saying nothing
Maybe

They dream

Staying nimble
Saving your kisses for now.

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three recent chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit and Cloudbank.

The First Time

by Carl Boon

When I went away the first time,
I noticed blue jays
high in the maples
along the avenue. My father

who held a pistol
to his neck lay bleeding
where all could see him.
My suitcase was small.

The neighbors disappeared
behind their blinds. They saw
how little I was, how the world
would swallow me before Omaha.

But I walked fast, pawning
my mother’s pearls on 12th Avenue
for hamburgers and ice cream.
On the bus to Lincoln

I was anonymous and happy.
The whiskey-drinking men
barely looked, and when they did,
it was as uncles would,

shyly. A thunderstorm
almost stopped me, but I went on,
switching Lincoln for Sioux Falls,
clutching my dollars on the toilet.

It was warm. The corn was
warm and rising, and my diary,
green squiggles and all,
was finally mine. When the Black

Hills came with sunrise, I vowed
never to return, but I knew
there would be snow,
dead panners of gold, the old

truth of the gun-blast.
I was fourteen. I was going,
going—and the fountain coins
were a mercy, and I suspected

he did his best, the blast, the blood,
the ambulance men shrugging.
But I missed my mother’s mashed
potatoes, so I slept.

Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently The Maine Review and The Hawaii Review. A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Boon is currently editing a volume on the sublime in American cultural studies.

Mission

by Ralph Monday

Those warriors that died at Normandy
and Utah Beach, the owl cries for them.
In the forest at the mountain’s base,
hear an ocean and more than half a century
away, nature congeals at the thought.
The owl flies a night mission, like B-52s
over Berlin, its target a mouse, nocturnal
hare, the planes from long ago winging
to plant a bulls eye on Mein Kampf madness.
The ocean separates the two, time dissolves
tissue and metal. Yet, energies linger,
recorded in earth and rock, blood and bone
the way the calling owl knows rooted instinct—
something deeper, essence drawn by gravity’s
well, savagery lying coiled in the heart
of every living thing—chilled whisper that makes
the lover start and slide deeper into the covers,
while the warrior, mad or sane, grinds teeth,
eats the earth’s constitution laid down in hot
tidal pools before a human’s first tremor
left footprints washed away in sand.

Ralph Monday is Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 100 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press.

House of Straw

by Roberta Feins

Her dad's the Preacher
of New Jordan Baptist Church,
a straw bale building
along State Highway 9.

Dust spirals up from the roadside
into the playground,
where six-year-old Amy runs
a makeshift barber shop before Bible class

shearing sinful curls
from a flock of young Christians.
But Cynthia is shorn already–
bald, weak,
not coming to church anymore.

Bad blood, Dad explains.

In the Healing Room,
after Cyn’s funeral,
Amy plays with a velcro Noah’s ark,

while Dad comforts the bereaved parents
by telling them
they didn’t believe strongly enough
to save her.

The parents weep; Amy
tears horses, peacocks, off the ark,
throws them overboard
to drown in the sea of blue carpet.

Later, with the same rasp – whoosh,
she rips a match in the silent sanctuary.

Flame snaps across wadded tissues;
in a fissure of the unfinished sill,
loose straw crackles
like voices raised in jubilation.

Roberta P. Feins received her MFA in poetry from New England College, where she studied with Judith Hall, DA Powell, Carol Frost and Alicia Ostriker. Her poems have been published in Five AM, Antioch Review, The Cortland Review and The Gettysburg Review, among others. She has published two chapbooks: Something Like a River (Moon Path Press); Herald (Autumn House Press, 2017) won the 2016 Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest. Her first full-length collection, A Morsel of Bread, A Knife, was published in 2018 by the Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle. Roberta edits the e-zine Switched On Gutenberg.

The Pearly Chaos

by William Doreski

The ice is skating from the sky
to spread itself like tissue
across our pale exhalations.
No driving to the post office
or supermarket today. No walk
in heaving evergreen forest
this morning, the yak of crows
angry as runaway commas.

You in your city loft remain
aloof from the pearly chaos.
Here in the New Hampshire woods
the creak of overladen trees
threatens to smash a culture
and release its meanest spirits.
Not even the grossest lyric
can absolve the landscape and thaw
the skim on which no one,
not even the embodied Jesus,
could walk. The crows call us both
by name, but sealed inside
your urban shell you’re secure
as a hermit crab. Naked enough
to pass the most minute inspection,

I stand before the mirror and hope
this self-erasure is gradual
enough to allow me to complete
my study of horizon lines
competing across the seasons.
I also hope to greet you someday
where weather intersects weather
in a chorus of elegant sighs.
We’ll shake hands across the gap
and salute ourselves goodbye
for good, all the ice melted
and the crackle of sunlight
flattering our creased expressions
as if framing us in history.

William Doreski teaches writing and literature at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

Ponokáómitaa

by Allen E. Rizzi

Máóhk, the color of sunrise, was my pony,
Áápi like the clouds was his blaze.
Sik, the color of earth, was his eyes,
He was mine for a time in the haze.

Ponokáómitaa, he was my friend
When others would not stand with me.
His spirit, it stays in my heart
Like the scent of the tall green pine tree.

Come sit by the fire, my friend,
Let us dream of tomorrow.
Together we’ll speak of today
But never of yesterday’s sorrow.

Ponokáómitaa, come to me in the morning
So that I may ride young once again
Like the man of my youth come alive,
Head high and hair in the wind.

Come sit by the fire, my friend,
Let us dream of tomorrow.
Together we’ll speak of today
But never of yesterday’s sorrow.

Ponokáómitaa, I am proud to say,
I hear the silence we now share.

Allen E. Rizzi is a writer and editor with over 50 years professional experience including non-fiction, biography, music, poetry and corporate analytic writing. He has additional expertise as a photographer.

Specialties: Historical non-fiction, nostalgia, poetry, music, public profiles, biographies, and documentary writing in English, Italian, and German. Recent work has appeared in The Numismatist, NOS Magazine, Amazon Kindle and on the internet. Mr. Rizzi is also a music composer and lyricist with over 135 songs to his credit (1974 to present).

Renascence

by Robert Zurer

Regarding his work, the artist says:

In contrast to this piece, all my other work reflects a process of discovery. Most of the time the "meaning" does not become clear to me until long after a painting is finished. 'Renascence' is unique in that it is the first and only work that I have done where I started with an idea and executed it. It is really the only illustration I have ever made.

I first read Edna St. Vincent Millay's Renascence when I was around 15. As I write this, I realize that I read this poem at one of my own first awakenings, when I just began to have an inkling that there is infinitely more than meets the eye.

It starts with a statement of our very human condition.

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see:
These were the things that bounded me.

Finally, after intense and painful struggle, it reaches its climax.

God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

And then it resolves.

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by."

It is just so beautiful and sad and true. I can never read it through without tears.

Robert Zurer was born in New York City and grew up in Greenwich Village in the 50's and 60's. He was graduated from Reed College in biochemistry. Upon his return from college, he settled in Brooklyn where he has lived ever since with his wife of 45 years. They have two grown children. In 1974, he started a scrap metal/dismantling business. In 2000 he closed his business and began designing and developing software at which he still works every day for a living.

He is self-taught and has been drawing and painting since he was a child. His work is narrative and is about inner life, mostly about struggle. The visual artists by whom he is most influenced are Gorky, Bacon, Neel, Lassnig, Balthus, Ensor, De Kooning, Hopper, Turner, Bosch, Grosz, Dix, Feininger, Millet, Church, Kahlo, Benton, Dove, Kandinsky, Burchfield, Carrington, Howson, Guston among many others.

Día de Los Muertos

by Denmark Laine

24th & Mission – where virgins appear with bloodied lips lifting their puebla blouses, the Spanish quarters of Telegraph and Castro, as colorful deaths. The Festival of Altars comes gleaming like maharajahs along empty bottle offerings. Mexican lanterns. Holy Spirit. Floating goldmines. Bodies like gnarled caskets raise the 13 Standards while fruit hat chiquitas in suede dresses carry dried flowers to the hooded groom, swinging fuming censers that hint at Orient gardens.

In the streets there are salamanders shedding the dark as they go wanting after the sacred flame. From the Nubian depths – its charnel portals – they step through as mediums down the tunnel of days fed by prehistoric winds that howl with saurian nightmares. The drumbeat. Chupacabras. Below are giantesses who offer draughts of the blue agave that go down like devil’s breath, reeling with dust, with camphor and iodine… yerba santa baptisms.

Call out the flaxen wives of the boneyard with cobweb lapels, black roses in their teeth. Escort them aboard subterranean ferries past bishops and sorcerers and pale little girls with their hair in marigolds, to Aztecs in coyote skin who jostle together to become smoke and joss paper. A link of dancers leads them on to a red mesa, the haunt of the ghast and cold-kissed Persephones, where the hanged kings, the twice-born fathers leave their adobe houses to join the gay confusion hid in Venetian masks and maidens’ kisses.

They bow to the pieces of Osiris found by children, torn apart like piñatas, spices, toys and lapis lazuli, sprinkled like kosher salt over the doorstep. The long road ponders a scythe. Sandmen line the catacombs.

To the Mission Dolores Basilica made of ivory speaking in sutras – carvings – morphs – making love to one another. Your god-bitten towers pointing. San Francisco: a wreckage of gargoyles crashing into the sky. Here there are feasts in the cemetery; the weeping willow women in their red girdles kneel in adoration at the altar cloth, laid with cakes of light and plates of quince and grails of strange wine touched with ash. The olden ones dine upon the gilded tomb. And after their suppers the matadors in their capes, faces as chimney sweeps, lay gifts of Arabian hash and de la Rosa candies at the gates of the soil, a Star of David on the headstone carved with a serpent’s tooth.

And the Witch of Words, one of filigree and manners, spins tales of glamor around her seven pillars, while her handmaids pave the way holding portraits of the blessed: Dred Scott, Cuauhtémoc, Frida Kahlo, Geronimo, Benito Juárez, Gloria Anzaldúa, Katherine Dunham, Josephine Baker and more.

Denmark Laine was born in St. Louis. A freelance writer, “punk poet” and rock critic for Eleven Magazine, he is the author of Smalltown Kings (a collection of short fiction) and Who Are the Veiled Prophets? (a book of poetry). An alum of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a BA in theatre performance, he became interested in the “psychedelic realism” school of writing after studying experimental drama and reading the works of Jonathan Cott, Frank O’Hara, Jim Morrison and the Angel Hair Anthology. With his visceral force of motion and hallucinogenic imagery, Laine illustrates the emotional pageant between our inner and outer worlds. A place where, as André Breton once said, “the real and the imagined cease to contradict.”

 

Slow Dance

by Camille Smith

Don't fall in love with a man not yet a boy
who will tell you seven months after the breakup
that he doesn't get poetry.
Repurpose the words you gave him
like dry lumber leftover from the addition to the garage
and set them ablaze.

All the memories he gave you sit on the backs
of sunsets because they're only bright when the lights are out.

Don't mistake the dwindling flame
for a star.

If anyone asked, you told them
it was he who arranged the constellations
but it was you who plucked the northern lights
and put them in his irises.

It was you who danced in the crescent of the moon
and who will dance again.

Camille Isadora Smith is a Chicago-based writer and performer. She collaborated on the premiere production of Kiosk Theatre's You and I: VERSE at the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival, and was a featured playwright for Theatre Unbound's 24 Hour Play Festival in 2015. Her newest play will premiere at the Two Chairs and a Lightbulb Play Series in 2016, as part of the Manifest Urban Arts Festival. Camille is also a contributing writer for sporkability.org.

The Resort on Kah-Nee-Ta Indian Reservation

by Yvonne Higgins Leach

The other tourists occupy lawn chairs
outside their cottage doors, and squint, like us,
toward the balding hills.
All day you and I brown like meat
under the broiler-sun, afloat
on our blow-up rafts in the mineral water.
Late afternoon we drive away from the valley floor,
from the pools and teepees to the hills where brush
clumps like hair on the flesh-toned earth,
and two horses feed miles from a fence.
In Warm Springs, we buy fry-bread and jam
in the reservation store. They are the ones
who refuse to work the resort,
and have the lesser house for it.
Driving back, we eat the warm bread
and even though the 100-degree air blusters
around us, we feel cool in our wet suits.
An Indian woman speeds by in her red Camaro,
her uniform sleeve flapping in the wind.

Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). Her poems have appeared in South Dakota Review, South Carolina Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Wisconsin Review, among others. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University in 1986. She spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. Now a full-time poet, she splits her time living in Snohomish and Spokane, Washington.

Snow In The Lost

by Martin Willitts Jr.

allow for shortness of breath
trudging through fields
and fields of endless snow

there is such quietness
you can feel noise
miles away

I have had my share of snow
and on these isolated walks
days are remote blankness

hear that amazing stillness inside
silence is the tiniest sound
sometimes from within

in the brokenness
we all need some point when we suddenly notice
the world around us

we find what we’ve been searching for
has all along
been here in the Forever

we all come from these useless whispering miles
wandering in the lost
attracted to what is nameless and felt

and here it is
snow
in the closed-knit trees chewing bird songs

we are bees maddened by too many flowers
in the unnerved sun
where solitude and oblivion are the same

Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian. His poems have been in Blue Fifth Review, Comstock Review, Kentucky Review, Bitter Oleander, and many more. He won the 2013 Bill Holm Witness Poetry Contest; 2014 Broadsided award; 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest; and, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has over 20 chapbooks; plus 11 full-length collections including How to Be Silent (FutureCycle Press, 2016).

My Name Was Once An Argument

by Sharon Alexander

I answer Yes to Thunder Sky, Shrieking Hawk, Firefly.

My name is the color of cactus bloom: tangerine, tiger stripe,
marigold, marmalade, spice.

You can call me
Lightning Strike, Tidal Wave, Raven’s Eye.

My name was an argument my parents had.
(I heard it from inside.)

Scarlett, my mother said. Then I heard nothing
but her blood.

Over my dead body my father replied — the only argument
he ever won.

Or you can call me
Scarlet Fire, Hurricane, Riptide.

My name, the aroma of desert rain,
soaks the Smoke Trees.

I slip my name under my pillow, hold its darkness beneath my tongue:
Black-Eyed Honey Running Naked in a Field of White Horses.

A transplanted New Yorker, Sharon Alexander now lives in Southern California. She divides her time between the mountains in Idyllwild and in the desert at the foot of the beautiful Santa Rosa Mountains east of Palm Springs.

Finishing Line Press released Sharon’s first collection of poetry, VOODOO TROMBONE, in 2014. Her poetry has or will appear in various journals including Naugatuck River Review, Caliban On-Line, Redheaded Stepchild, Slipstream, Pearl and San Pedro River Review. In addition, her poetry can be found in the following anthologies: Beyond the Lyric Moment (Poetry Inspired by Workshops with David St. John); Spectrum (140 So Cal Poets) and The Poetry Box (Poeming Pigeons).

Even Silent Ruins Speak

by James McColley Eilers

Regarding his work, the artist says:

When people from around the earth visit the island of Alcatraz, they are already informed to some extent about “the Rock.” The island’s philanthropic board, administrators, and rangers are allowing its symbolic meanings to thrive and expand, with the island open to art events, but also with an ongoing conscious meditation on the past and present of the crucial social issues of crime and incarceration. The island’s physical reality, textured and painted by climate, fascinates, but listening to the stories researched by a friend who is a night guide there can make the place feel haunted by the past. The ghosts evoked by its history might have found freedom at last, riding on the wind permitted here to flow through walls between the Pacific and the San Francisco Bay. I photographed what seemed a lyrical abstraction of floating rectangles, but felt, as well, the many meanings a ruin can evoke, as if such windows as these allow the past and the present to look at each other.

James McColley Eilers' verses, translations, essays, and photographs have been published in various literary magazines, including Subtropics, San Francisco Reader, Modern Words, Estero, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Mouth of the Dragon, Gay & Lesbian Review; on the websites InTranslation and Poetry Ark; and in the books, How to Bury a Goldfish (2000, 2008) and the anthology, Imprints (2014). His one-act play, Turning, was performed in San Francisco in 2001.

These Are The People

by George Bandy

i

The waves tumbling ashore with never a tide to transform the beach, instead steady rollers with every wind. Some mornings there is the absolute stillness— voices & music from the far shore, boys & girls, Camp Seagull’s revelers & revelry.

Even now, summer is always the children
Spending “my summer vacation”
Cataloguing the surf, camping on the beach
With fire pit glowing late
And the stars
And the Perseid Showers
To keep imagination bright.

ii

The summer she died
She denied all that summer had come to mean.

The girls I sent to stay with my mom.

And every morning for the rest of summer
I stayed here,
Living rough and short-tempered
With her
And with me for “not knowing”
What she knew
In her soul
But not in the fold
Of family.

iii

Somewhere between the shores, in the commercial channel, are the rigged schooners, powered luxury ships and, even, the occasional coal barge en route to and fro the inland sea, all, moving gracefully to their elsewhere.

The smell of wood smoke permeating
The tent fabric & every article of clothing—
One big jamboree
With excursions to the Antique Car Show,
The 4th of July parade in Boyne,
The Polish Festival
And more to shape and refine
The middle American into middle America.

No mean thing is the beauty of land
And people
Restored and never found wanting in heart,
Church, or the art of patriotic inclusion.

iv

Summer is always about
That summer without.

We stayed, summer after summer,
And it was never the same.

But what is?

Summer is about the children:

How my girls grew,
How they lean in search of light,
How they thirst,
How the biometrics of life
Shape the givers of life.

v

Voices of revelry carry from the far shore, between are the rigged cats & schooners moving gracefully to elsewhere, silently; and then the staccato skidoos & skiers flying in the wake of a motorized shell, turning this Turner into a furious roar with skidoo & skier punctuating with sky-bound whippets of lake.

These are the people,
That is America.

The immigrant migrants brought through time
By love of God, Country and Family;
Brought to the fore
By diligence
And most importantly
By the unalloyed spirit
Of those wanting what they’ve been told
They cannot have.

George Bandy’s publications include War, Literature & the Arts (USAF), New Millennium Writings, The Kenning Journal, Saturday Evening Post, Passager, and Chiron Review literary journals. His poem “Return from War” won the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award and became the lead poem in his first published chapbook, The Story Box. His writing for children has been featured in Boy’s Life Magazine.

Author's portrait by Lukman Ahmad

Why Did I Do It?

by Terry Martin

Because the link was lost between echo and call
Because the child misheard trick-or-treat as trigger treat
Because of too many evenings watching PBS
Because the tiger paced the cage
Because mother’s last meal was asparagus and crème brûlée
Because of the parching desert silence
Because of the gray clawfoot tub, the pink tiled bathroom
Because the ancestors were thirst and maybe
Because I sprained my ankle rounding third base
Because the record kept skipping, over and over and over
Because my father made me get off the phone
Because of micro-mosaics in Ravenna, all those blues
Because sadness blanketed the night
Because the pond, the ducks, the bread crumbs…
Because grandpa couldn’t say he was sorry
Because of snow, and more snow
Because the kidnapped girl was never found
Because Lucille asked what sustains you?
Because the seashell tasted of tears
Because other gestures became, finally, impossible

Terry Martin’s most recent poetry book is The Light You Find (Blue Begonia Press, 2014). An avid reader and writer, she has published hundreds of poems, essays, and articles, and has edited journals, books, and anthologies. She teaches English at Central Washington University, where she won a Distinguished Professor—Teaching award, and has been honored as a U.S. Professor of the Year by the CASE/Carnegie Foundation—a national teaching award given to recognize extraordinary commitment and contribution to undergraduate education. She lives with her spouse in Yakima, Washington— The Fruit Bowl of the Nation.

The Wood In Camera

by Perry McDaid

Clouds gauze the evening sun, the precipitous territory
between pine and fir. I angle for that perfect shot
of elemental harmony.

Trout slip through molecules of static lake,
silent and surreptitious in their passing,
weaving whispered stories to sighing needles,

while hot parched reeds sing their sere symphony.
The only discordant notes—the mysterious slurring
of Gaelic fairy trees.

Irish writer, Perry McDaid, currently has over a hundred short stories and a thousand poems of varying lengths and genres published or by the like of Aurora Wolf; Carillon; Salepot; Reach; Chaos Factory; Mad Scientist Journal; Everyday Fiction; Amsterdam Quarterly; Bunbury; SWAMP and others.

He lives beneath the brooding brows of the Donegal hills in his home town of Derry, from where he is known to set out in sturdy boots to hike the haunts of druids and warriors for inspiration.

Book of Burns

by William Burns

Regarding his work, the artist says:

I section so much of my life into page sized slices so that they might be pressed and dried for contemplation.

William Burns was born circa the early fifties on the trailing edge of the beautiful generation (remember the Hippies?) and raised in and around the rolling hills and glens of West Virginia. He holds lots of degrees (mostly Celsius, some Fahrenheit some Kelvin) in areas such as electrical engineering, biomedical engineering and technical education. He keeps the hounds of starvation at bay by teaching electrical engineering and electrical technology courses for various colleges. He has written seven plays that have made the stage and been published in over 100 hardcopy magazines, as well as a metric bunch of web page zines. Bill lives in South Carolina with his bride of thirty nine years and their three children.