Wednesday, April 14, 2021

New Poetry by Roberta Santlofer










Going Home

A journey back to the self
That you no longer know—
Lifting your sweater to show your appendix scar
Holding up your hair to be sixteen again
Visiting relatives and sleeping long
Being asked about the length of your dreams

Then, sitting around the dinner table with Aunt Emily
And Aunt Adele
Smiling at their rhetorical questions
Mouthing assents to their pauses

And then, as the evening gets late, and drowsy eyes and mouths
Flicker more slowly and not at all
Getting to concentrate on a piece of the firelight
To hold it, to take it back into a part of some life
Of some moment, when words were spoken to mean something


- © Roberta Santlofer 2021


Roberta “Bobby” Santlofer (1943-2020) was a mother of sons, an avid reader, and a poet. A posthumous collection of her poetry is forthcoming. Santlofer’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Philadelphia Stories, Grey Sparrow Review, and elsewhere. 

[Editor's note: Roberta passed away in June 2020. These poems were sent to me by her son, Mark Danowsky, in his capacity as her literary executor.]

New Poetry by David Adès










Trinidad Nights 

Whether the moon is full or crescent, 
whether the moon is absent, 
whether the night breathes silver and shadow, 

whether the night breathes darkness and stars — 
dancers always come. 
The musicians’ jump  

to congas and bongos, 
to percussion and guitars, 
to saxophone and trumpet, 

fill the stone courtyard with sound, 
fill the night with sound, 
fill the dancers with movement. 

The sound is loud and fast, 
the sound is rhythmic, 
the sound is salsa. 

Above, 
on the stone steps to the Casa de la Musica, 
the drinkers drink Cerveza, Ron, Mojito, 

the drinkers talk, 
the drinkers’ eyes slip down 
to the bodies of the dancers, 

slip down and up, 
down and up. 
On the stone courtyard 

the dancers step forward, step back, 
link arms, unlink, 
step around each other, 

the man always directing the woman, 
the woman circling the man, 
dancing on and on, 

changing partners, 
feeling sinew and muscle, 
feeling the drip of sweat, 

feeling the slip of shine and sheen, 
feeling the brush of skin on skin, 
of hands touching backs. 

The dance is hot and close, 
the dance is hypnotic, 
but the dancers do not dance for love or lust, 

not for youth or memory, 
not for themselves or each other, 
not for the drinkers’ eyes. 

The dancers dance 
for the perfection, 
for the intricacy, 

for the synchronicity 
of movement, 
the dancers dance 

for salsa, 
always for salsa, 
only for salsa.


- © David Adès 2021


David Adès is the author of Mapping the World, the chapbook Only the Questions Are Eternal and most recently Afloat in Light (https://uwap.uwa.edu.au/products/afloat-in-light). In association with Mascara Literary Review, David is a recipient of the 2020 Don Bank Writing Residence (extended into 2021 due to Covid) together with Michelle Cahill, Debbie Lim and Michelle Hamadache. 

 



Monday, April 12, 2021

New Short Fiction by Sandra Williams

 Mystery Men

 For two days, I saw a una-bomber look-alike in a baggy orange sweat shirt wandering around restlessly through the halls of the hospice center where we each had a friend who lay dying. When we passed each other one night, I tried to read the words on his shirt, but the folds of the shirt kept folding in on the letters. His red MAGA hat, too small over his shaggy hair—reminded me of those clown hats with a wig attached to it. Around his neck was a heavy silver chain with a figure dangling from it. 
 Later I learned the figure was St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. That says it all, I thought, but still haven’t figured out what the “all” was. 
 Did he believe that America needed to be “great again,” but didn’t have much hope that it would happen, or was the lost cause his friend who had no options left, except waiting for the grim reaper to swing his scythe?
 On the third day, at the coffee cart, I asked him, “So, who is the little shiny fella there?” pointing to the dangling figure on the chain.
 “It’s St. Jude!” he said in a tone of voice suggesting I should have known.
 “But Judas isn’t a saint, is he?” that much I knew, but I got the wrong saint, or in this case, sinner.
 “No, no, no, you are thinking of Judas Iscariot. He was the apostle who betrayed Jesus,” he said.
 “Yeah, that’s him, for thirty pieces of silver, right?” I said.
 “Exactly."
 Exactly thirty? I wondered. Just before I bit into my multi-grain muffin, I blurted out, "Well, they say no good deed goes unpunished.”
 “What do you mean, good deed? His was the greatest betrayal in the history of the world.”
 “You mean the greatest catch 22! I mean, if Judas didn’t turn him over to the Romans, Christ wouldn’t have 'died for our sins,' which was the plan all along. So, they both end up hanging from a tree, right?”
 “Yes,” he said, “but Jesus in victory and Judas in defeat.”
 “But…but,” I started to say.  Then I decided to put the mystery men: the una-bomber look-alike, Judas the sinner and St. Jude the saint out of my mind. It was starting to sound like a sporting event.
 I poured the guy a coffee, passed him the cup, and we stood eating our muffins in silence. Then we moved on into our respective friends’ rooms—to watch and wait at the foot of their beds.
 My friend died that afternoon, and I wept.  
 On my way out, I saw Mystery Man #1 coming down the hall. Our eyes met for a moment, then I looked down and was able to make out what was on that orange shirt:
 It was the image of the blue marble Earth in darkness, and below it the words:

YOU ARE HERE.

New Poetry by Jean Bohuslav










compartmental beauty

a rusting iron bucket with
cracked patinas
muted greens
translucent mauves
an artefact most would dismiss
instead treasuring prominent
renowned efforts

a rounded sculptured kettle
or toaster
chrome with thick duco paint
shaped like an fj holden,
overlooked glory

a button
an exquisite thread
faces with unspoken thoughts
embedded in each silent expression

a tricycle with chipped enamel
scratches and dents
hollering reckless enthusiasm
another syphoned with care

objects
comparisons of yester year
fortitudes of treasured principles
placed in mental compartments

each thought
tone and movement
affecting the whole
relics of time
connected intrinsic beauty


- © Jean Bohuslav 2021



Jean Bohuslav enjoys the company of friends who like the arts on the Surf Coast of Victoria.  Her interest in philosophy and mindfulness is sometimes reflected in  her work.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

New Poetry by John Tustin










Let it Rain

It’s raining out there
And I mean really raining
With the thunder that shakes the foundation
And the soothing jargon of raindrops
In their sheets coming down
Like endless theater curtains

But that’s fine with me
Because I have nowhere to go
And even if I did
I probably wouldn’t want to
So this rain coming now
Might be a waste for me
Because it could make a fine excuse
To not go somewhere I’m expected to be.

I stand in the doorway looking out.
A Haydn sonata battles the sound
Of those big fat drops crashing to the ground
In their continual downward assaults.

I could stand for it to rain like this a long time.
My house is ready to continue guesting me –
There’s coffee and there’s sugar for the coffee
But no milk.
Also there’s
No beer,
No cigarettes

Which is fine
Because I don’t need milk,
I don’t drink beer anymore
And I’ve never smoked.

Let it rain.
Let it fall and fall.
I can last here for a while.


- © John Tustin 2021


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

New Poetry by Tom Montag










from The Old Monk Poems

We could tell you
twice as much,

the old monk said,
and you still wouldn't

know the half of it.

~

Is this what
it comes to,
the old monk asked--

an old man,
a cot,
cold coffee?

~

Where the horses run,
the wind follows,
the old monk said.


- © Tom Montag 2021


Tom Montag's books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Imagination's Place; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. Two new collections, The River Will Tell You and Maybe Holy: Six Old Monk Poems are forthcoming. His poem 'Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain' has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.

Monday, April 05, 2021

New Poetry by Kenneth Kakareka










My Love

Her and I
are out to eat
tucked away
in a red brick corner
all our own.
She’s looking at
a skinny group of girls
celebrating 1st place
for their swimsuit modeling competition.
I’m looking at her
dark roast black hair
pulled up in a bun,
hazelnut-colored skin
and milk chocolate eyes.
Her wonderfully crooked teeth
she doesn’t show enough of
with a smile;
that’s my sunrise.
I’m looking at her
California-shaped birthmark
beneath her eye
tattooed on as character.
Her cute, pudgy
sausage link-shaped finger
with the diamond ring
I gave her
that seems to have been
carved and crafted
solely for her;
no other finger
wearing that ring
could look
even remotely close
to brilliance.


- © Kenneth Kakareka 2021


Ken Kakareka is a poet and writer who lives in California with his wife-to-be. He is the author of Late to Bed, Late to Rise (Black Rose Writing, 2013). Ken's stuff has been published in Lost Lake Folk Opera Magazine, Ink & Voices, Conceit Magazine, Spontaneous Spirits Magazine, DoveTales Journal, Amulet Magazine, HASH Journal, Route 7 Review, The Vital Sparks Journal and Burnt Pine Magazine. He has stuff coming forth in Gargoyle Magazine.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

New Short Fiction by Veronica Kirin

 Elephantalism

 I dreamt that the circus had come to town. We gathered at the railway to watch the train roll in. The master of ceremonies was eccentric, we had heard, and was experimenting to perfect the circus animal.
 We were awed as the old steam engine puffed past, for the first car was a flurry of activity. With each breath of the blackened metal issued an infant elephant. One by one they landed beside the great wheels of the engineer’s car, righting themselves and trotting along to follow in a manifest herd. 
 These calves were strange, unlike those at the Zoo. They were smaller and grew before our eyes. Their skin soon changed from smooth and glossy to tough and wrinkled, tusks began to form. They trumpeted to each other as they trotted along, their feet crunching the weed-covered stones.
 Step by step, clickety-clack, the hoard grew up as they followed the painted cars. Their grey forms obscured the bright yellows and reds that swooped along those wooden frames. The rumbling metal wheels grinding on metal rails was scarcely heard over the cacophony of stomping feet and snorting trunks.
 Into adulthood they paraded as the end of the train neared. Their tusks were long and they trumpeted loud their joie d’vivre. But the mad ringmaster had not perfected his elephant formula, and as his elephants aged into full height, they began to fall apart.
 Their weight was too great, their pace too quick, and the elephant bodies cracked. A leg here, a tusk there, breaking beside the train. Distressed, but not in pain, each stopped to pick up its own pieces. The pride of elephants that followed the train now limped along the tracks. 
 They gave their best effort to follow their master, but instead they continued to weaken. As the red caboose pulled away the elephants began to fall. To our horror, their heavy bodies split open when they met the ground. The seam of their backs, the top of their heads, broke as if brittle ceramic. Layer upon layer we could see inside, not blood or bones, but clay and sandstone. What bizarre chemistry had the ringmaster used to form these artificial creatures?
 Silence fell with the last elephant, all movement and prancing ceased. The train, our joy, and the elephant's lives ended unceremoniously.


- © Veronica Kirin 2021


Veronica Zora Kirin (she/her) is an award-winning queer author whose writing aims to unearth within the reader something they may not have known existed.  Learn more at https://veronicakirin.com/books


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

New Poetry by DJ Tyrer










Bomb Diffusion

Bob always had trouble
Finding the right word
Resulting in an incident
When he tried to diffuse a bomb
And, having failed to defuse it
The bomb diffused Bob
Over an exceptionally-wide area


- © DJ Tyrer 2021


DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing, and has been published in issues of California Quarterly, The Dawntreader, Haiku Journal, The Pen, and Tigershark, and online at Atlas Poetica, Bindweed, Poetry Pacific, and Scarlet Leaf Review, as well as releasing several chapbooks, including the critically acclaimed Our Story. The echapbook One Vision is available from Tigershark Publishing’s website. SuperTrump and A Wuhan Whodunnit are available to download from the Atlantean Publishing website.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Two New Prose Poems by Jason Heroux










It was night…

It was night. The streetlamp lit a match, the sky leaned in with its cigarette, and an old man wandered around searching for his lost tooth. “It looks like the moon, but smaller, with a chip.” I said I hadn’t seen it. But how could I be so sure? Millions of items are lost in the world, over a thousand things a minute, and most of them look like the moon, but smaller, with a chip.


The circus came…

The circus came to town. A trapeze artist took a death-defying stroll through the park, an elderly fire-eating sword-swallower smoked in the rain. The human cannonball sat on a café patio and worked on a crossword puzzle. Homeless clowns slept in the doorways of abandoned storefronts. I watched blindfolded knife-throwers bump into each another on busy streets and apologize profusely at the top of their lungs.


- © Jason Heroux 2021


Jason Heroux is grateful to live as an uninvited guest upon the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Anishinabek Nation where he is currently the Poet Laureate for the City of Kingston, Ontario. His most recent book is Amusement Park of Constant Sorrow (Mansfield Press, 2018).

Monday, March 29, 2021

New Short Fiction by Lex Pennington

One Last Drive

 I took it out for one last drive, but one could argue that the last drive was a long time ago before I knew that what I was trying to hold onto was already gone. My wife told me to sell the piece of junk already. She said that it had seen better days, but I still think there’s some magic in it. Every time I touch the steering wheel, I think of those last days of summer when we were all friends, and the only thing I cared about was if we had enough money to see the next movie.
 I can practically see Steve leaning over the seat in his cloud of cigarette smoke shouting at me over the radio to change the station already. He never did like the The Beach Boys like I did. Sandy, my wife, always rode in the passenger seat next to me, where she’d kick her shoes up on the dashboard just because she knew it drove me crazy. The scuff marks are still there like the memories.
 I passed the shopping mall that used to be the theater. I know that if I looked, there still might be some decades old popcorn kernels stuck under the seat. When we went to the drive-in, Marty always rode in the trunk, so he wouldn’t have to pay admission. Then, he’d jump out like some magic trick once we pulled in, thinking he was the smartest person in the whole world. 
 I’d lost track of them somewhere between the good old days and the life after that. I guess sometimes the best people you know are only meant to be a memory for the majority of your life, so that the time you actually knew them seems more special. I know I wouldn’t be able to picture them as old men even if they were standing right in front of me. They’d always be those kids in the back of my car, all grease, leather jackets and denim, and cigarette smoke. 
 Down the street I turned by the Dairy Queen that I took Sandy to on our first date. I’d been asking her forever, but she was always “busy”. It was spontaneous when we finally went. She said “Lets get ice cream”, while we were waiting for the others to get out of work or sneak out of the house, and she didn’t have to twist my arm. She sat across from me with a vanilla cone, dripping ice cream on the seat when the leather still looked new. It was the first time we ever went out without the others, and I soaring with joy until she declared that we were only friends and threatened me not to put my arm around her.
 When I swung around by the diner where we’d blow our change on jukebox songs, I started thinking what the car would sell for. How do you put a price on memories? How do you explain why you never fixed the passenger window that’s jammed because it was funnier to hear Sandy shout about it being broken in the heat of summer?
 I didn’t have an answer by the time I got to my street, but I knew as soon as I saw Sandy outside watering her flowers. I rolled down the window like I was still eighteen and leaned my arm on its edge. 
 Sandy looked at like me in her unamused way like she did on our first date. “I’m surprised that piece of junk even runs.”
 I motioned my hand for her to come over to me. “Come with me for one last drive.”
 I was surprised when she didn’t argue and came by the passenger door. 
 “I was gonna come out and open the door for you,” I said.
 “Why’s that?” she said, getting into the seat and slamming it shut. “You never did before.”
 I laughed when she kicked her shoes up on the dashboard.
 “Where to next, Sandy? The junk yard?” I asked, pulling out of the driveway.
 She stared out the window for a long time. I could still see her the way she was when I met her, the brown hair sweeping her collarbones, dark eyes rolling at my bad jokes. 
 She shook her head. “Lets get ice cream.”


- © Lex Pennington 2021


Lex Pennington is currently a college student majoring in Creative Writing. Her passion for writing is fueled by reading, and she tries to read at least twenty books every summer. Besides books, she loves movies, the beach, and her dog named Ella.

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian










Moonbeam
 
Every night
a different message.
Tell me tonight
about the translucent bones
of icicles on the gutter.
Their tale is a disclosure
of your stalking.
You creep through windows,
a cunning burglar,
on the heels of darkness
and leave no fingerprints,
yet cleverly steal away secrets
between the elusive shadows
you create,
some darker than others,
convoluted figures
rummaging in the most remote corners
of the room.
The sleepless await an explanation
but your peering eyes
slip away
when the clouds make you blink.
If you do take something,
no one is the wiser.
The sand in your light
eventually blinds into submission
the most suspicious
who, in the morning,
awake unaware of your intrusion,
until icicles drip
in the rising sunlight.


- © Michael Keshigian 2021


Michael Keshigian’s recent poems have appeared in Muddy River Review, Edison Literary Review, Jerry Jazz Musician, Boston Literary Magazine, and Tipton Poetry Journal. He has been published in numerous national and international journals and has appeared as feature writer in twenty publications with 7 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (michaelkeshigian.com)


 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

New Short Fiction by Fay L. Loomis

Trick the Devil

    I was coming home from school, on the last stretch, the part where the sidewalk ended. I heard feet scuffling on the gravel and turned around to see Rankin Skinner walking about a half  block behind me.
     He had been following me all week long, and it was time to put a stop to it, ask him what he was doing. I slowed down, until he caught up with me.
    “Why’re you followin’ me?”
    “Not followin’ you.  Goin’ home.”
    “You never did it before this week. And, I want to know why you take your shirt off when you get past my driveway.”
    “Need some sunshine before I git home, git to work.”
     “Where do you live?”
    “Right before the cemetery, ‘bout a mile from here.”
    “Never been out that far.”
    “Wanna come and see where I live?”
    I went back and forth about whether I wanted to or not, then said, “Sure.”
    He undid a couple of buttons at the top of his shirt and pulled it over his head. Black shoots of sticky hair stood on end.  I could imagine him slicking back his hair with a comb and water before leaving for school that morning. We ambled west.
      I could see that his stomach stuck out. Made him look kind of sickly. I didn’t say anything, though wondered why it was so big.  I coughed to cover up a sniff and decided the smell was coming from him. I moved a little bit closer to the ditch.
     We passed the next farm, hit open space, and continued to walk in silence. Neither of us said much in school, so we were OK with not talking. We had moved to Coldwater, Michigan, late in the spring, not long after the end of WWII, and the other fourth graders hadn’t been exactly excited to have me take a seat in the classroom. I don’t know how long Rankin had been going to that school. He wasn’t welcome either. 
    We finally got to a sign that read “Municipal Dump” and turned onto a dirt road that cut through thick woods. Up ahead were piles of smoldering trash, surrounded by dark pools of water.
    “Be careful when walkin’ over these boards,” Rankin said. “They’re kinda tippy, and you might fall in the water.”
    The planks led to an island where a metal shack reared its roof above the junk. I heard a voice, before I saw the woman coming out of the house. Her straggly hair was wadded on top of her head and a workman’s denim apron covered a dress so faded I couldn’t tell what color it was.  She blended with the dank ground she stood on.
    “Rankin, what are you doin’ bringin’ that girl here? You tell her to git out of here.  And, you put your shirt on and git to work helpin’ your daddy sort stuff. We had a lot come in today.”
    Rankin seemed to get whiter and smaller. He put his shirt on and walked to the side of the shack. I backed up to the plank, turned around, and started running when I got to solid ground.
    Back on the highway, I slowed down and began to think on why Rankin lived at the dump. I had heard that nicknames were given to trick the devil.  Rankin’s mother must not have known about that or she would have given him a better name.  Like Clark. Superman tricks the devil all the time, and Clark Kent does just fine. If Rankin’s mother had given it some thought, maybe that boy wouldn’t be living in a dump.


- © Fay L. Loomis 2021


Fay L. Loomis was a nemophilist (haunter of the woods) until her hikes in upstate New York were abruptly ended by a stroke three years ago. With an additional nudge from the pandemic, she has been living a particularly quiet life. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers and the Rat's Ass Review Workshop, her poems and prose appear in numerous publications.