Author: Amanda Miller

Lithe Hills By Richard King Perkins II

Lithe Hills By Richard King Perkins II

I’ve colonized your outer planets

deliberately

 

with grand expressions

and dark portals of insanity.

 

Mercifully, April prays uncontained

as the sun falls distinctly

 

in tremulous waves below the horizon

and your discrete aspects are revealed;

 

lithe hills of ebony, chiseled wings,

and weeping telescopes of imperfection.

 

You were the dirty child

wandering the boneyards of dead streets,

 

a shredded web of emptiness

generating the machinery of thought,

 

clutching fractions

as if they were flyaway moons

 

and given all that we’ve been

how can you say you’ll never cavort again

 

gathering figs around

this silent exultation of earth.

 


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

 

Untitled by Simon Perchik

Untitled by Simon Perchik

Easy, this lake
sheds its bark
and each ripple

makes room :birdcalls
and the sky
almost raining

wider and wider
–a great tree
fallen on its roots

and each splash
leafs out dead
rids itself

and those same footsteps
passing you naked
taken away

as shadows and ice
weighted down
holding you back

–simple! you toss
and this tiny stone
is further and further

the deep breath
no longer choking
water and birdsong.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge,Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Osiris Poemspublished by box of chalk, 2017. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities”please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

Third Story Roof Sitting By David P. Miller

Third Story Roof Sitting By David P. Miller

It’s so geometrical up here.
Our house is flat-topped.
The other summits in view
make a child’s drawing of peaks.
Wedge tops and gable triangles
asphalt-shingled in shades of charcoal,
brick oven browns, forest greens
scarred from exposure. Up above here
a panorama of three-sided tubes.
Seven brick chimneys, sisters
of one hundred twenty-five years,
sit their squareness as sentinels.

Sparrows speed by and lodge
on a twig at my head height.
Watch them breezing out on that limb.
The landscape is pleasure sidekicked with fear.
Vertigo calls from the sudden edge.
Without railings, this viewpoint
is bordered by neckbreak.
We’ve watched fireworks, shoveled snowdrifts
paltry feet from the vacant air.

The summer afternoon is empty.
One dormer window, venetian blind
drawn. Over the turquoise bodega,
another’s tar beach with pergola,
fence, lawn furniture, nobody out.
Sounds of motor growl, tire chafe,
imperative honks. I’m alone,
rubber roof-spread warming my jeans,
with cloud-clustered green,
the maple seed pendants,
and this solo seagull, suspended.

So This Is Starrigavin by Kersten Christianson

So This Is Starrigavin by Kersten Christianson

The ocean on the western side,

estuary to the east.  Paved road

meanders across the bridge, like

a grandfather with an old story

 

to unpack. A walking path flanks

the road, gathers broken bits

of mussel shells, deer vertebrae,

alder cones.  Because it is spring,

 

green spruce pollen marks pavement

in galactic splatters.  Beard lichen

drapes above your head, whispy

to your fingertips when you stretch.

 

There are crows, ravens, & kingfishers.

Great blue herons fish the tidal zone

shallows, their beady eyes intent, hunting

darting salmon fry at their feet.

 

So this is Starrigavin. An afternoon walk

with a bag of oyster crackers in your hand

to feed inquisitive corvidae.  You push

into the wind, it lifts your hair to join

 

fluttering beard moss and you swear,

you swear you could lift your arms,

transformed wings, join the feathered,

and fly.


Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage) and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017).  Kersten is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak www.kerstenchristianson.com

 

Who Gets to Live Here by William Doreski

Who Gets to Live Here by William Doreski

Cats on the loose, sizzling,

hissing, rubbing each other raw.

You in the kitchen chatting

with a famous Chinese poet

whose work features on scrolls

and reproduction pottery

 

peddled in gift shops everywhere.

His purely suede expression

suggests he’s forming a lyric

while attending to every nuance

of your perfected malformation.

You ignore my cries for help,

 

my attempts to corral the cats

and prevent them from savaging

each other’s most comely smiles.

A tiger whacks a tortoise-shell

with a pawful of sheathed claws

while an orange tabby nibbles

 

a crouching calico’s neck.

With armsful of blustering felines

I hustle into the garage and catch

a stranger rummaging manuscript

I abandoned twenty years ago.

What forces have you compelled

 

to bear upon the simple life

I’ve cultivated to contain me?

After waving a rake at the burglar

and locking the tangle of cats

into the garage I’m free to shake

the visiting poet’s hand and learn

 

how little English he speaks,

how little Chinese I speak,

how little any of us understand

the cries and contortions of cats,

essential elements of landscapes

we aren’t allowed to inhabit.


William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2018).

What the Land Teaches by Chila Woychik

What the Land Teaches by Chila Woychik

Some mornings, the moon plays off a rising sun, lingers in a lightening sky. In Native American tradition, each month’s full moon was ascribed a name representing a characteristic of that time of year, for example, January’s Wolf Moon and June’s Strawberry Moon.

Morning moons aren’t rare in their ebbing circuit across an early sky. And but for nature’s yawns and stretches, young country days are an exercise in silence. Leaves hang softly; a breeze quivers in the air; the land lays quiet except for a blue jay’s screech and cattle lowing for the disappearing grass.

 

Twenty years in Milwaukee and I’m more than citified, know urban sprawl and traffic jams. I wish it no more. It’s out of my blood. The desire for anything metropolitan has departed. These days, as the painted wooden plaque in the farm store so aptly admonishes, I “never stand behind a coughing cow.”

At the checkout lane, the cashier has a tattoo and six or eight piercings in each ear. Her hair is short and gray except for one long braid in the back. She’s at least sixty, and adds a modern touch to this decidedly rural mercantile that offers everything from needle syringes for bypassing the vet, to the latest stylish Carhartt clothing, to baby fowl, to tires and Pringles and complimentary popcorn.

 

Trucks. I began admiring them when I finally got used to the high step-up and rhythmic clatter of our Ford diesel, when I finally mastered the wide front seat and having to scoot farther right so as to be dead center of the steering wheel, and when I finally grasped the fact that such a long wheelbase maneuvers potholes and gravel roads with handy ease.

My truck is a chariot to heaven and Everygirl’s adventure. Now I demand the scenic routes and dust-filled byways, extol the clouds and blink away the busyness. I drag along wonder with each escape, and there’s not a rural setting beyond my scrutiny.

 

Too much dirt mucks up the cogs. Too many details and the lines drag down. Just bury the stuff in the pasture or dump the junk in the lowlands, old farmers say. So rusty metal bones and industrial fuel tanks and Frigidaire washers fill the gullies next to great slabs of beef roaming acres of what used to be the richest land on earth.

What’s left is our chemical-laden soil, a deathtrap for bees and butterflies, and its runoff sabotages our rivers, lakes, and seas. Runoff from Iowa reaches the Gulf of Mexico. We use plastics too, those filling our oceans and ensnaring the fish. This is our apocalyptic seedbed, our darkening hope, and it envelops this globe.

 

People do clone best; clone is what we do. We forget that sky is not a clone. Dirt is not a clone. Every animal strides to its own unique rhythm unflustered by the concept of uniformity. When does the light flicker on, when does individuality strike us soundly enough that we finally say, I am, I am, I will be rare and new.

 

Life is place and setting: how a land feels as it trickles down the gullet of identity. It’s the slipping away of an all-night moon and the slant of an early morning sun piercing the blinds, the speed of clouds carried over a pasty mountain ridge, and rush hour traffic whether a convoy of three hundred sheep marshalled by an attentive shepherd or a swarm of three thousand cars with right-side steering wheels crowding narrow Paris streets. It’s the air we breathe, fresh and wild, or stilted and heavy.

 

Everyone’s scared when the darkness refuses to lift, but the land brings us light and feeds us. The land teaches us to be more, teaches us to be brave. The land brings us home.

 


German-born Chila Woychik has bylines in journals including Cimarron, Portland Review, and Silk Road. She won the 2017 Loren Eiseley Creative Nonfiction Award & the 2016 Linda Julian Creative Nonfiction Award. She is the founding editor at Eastern Iowa Review. www.chilawoychik.com

Venetian Hands By Timothy B. Dodd

Venetian Hands By Timothy B. Dodd

Unwashed

dip into pockets hugging fat

thighs on tourist boats, snatch

loose locks on shop gates

— thief

 

Warmed

hold the blowpipe to shape liquid

fire, manipulating elements, a key

from Murano lights transformation

—glassblower

 

Smoothed

from Conakry to Douala hold up packs

of pirated Guccis following through

dusty alleys to Piazza San Marco

— bag vendor

Calloused

slide palms down the oar to push

off from docks into busy canals,

old-aged lovebirds in tow

—gondolier

 

Soft

arrange mass-produced ornaments

in the window again this morning;

wrap one in wax paper, English

—shop owner

 

Steady

set plates of pasta on narrow tables,

bringing more olives for a brighter

tip, this is Italian food my friends

—waiter

 

Fingernail-painted

pick and choose, seek your spouse

for a second opinion, the right piece

to carry home, credit card critical

—tourist

 

Pocketed

at the top of the food chain, consumes

even church and canal — if a bargain;

cut soil, come modern commodes

—tourist #2

 

Buried

of the Veneti, unknown. More than

Pound, Mušič, Nono. Beyond San

Michele. In the sea. Lost. Scarred

—forgotten

 


Timothy B. Dodd is from Mink Shoals, WV.  His poetry has appeared in The Roanoke Review, Stonecoast Review, Ellipsis, Broad River Review, and elsewhere.  He is currently in the MFA program at the University of Texas El Paso.

 

The Geometry of Birdland by Karla Linn Merrifield

The Geometry of Birdland by Karla Linn Merrifield

You dream you would hammer

your scorn into perfect circles

from on high like the iron wheels

of a predatory night hawk.

You would prey on any

isosceles triangle within grip,

rip it into angles of judgment

as acute as a golden eagle’s cocked eye.

Your shadow would be as a vulture’s

mean and dirty parallelogram

in the raw morning sky.

 

But, you wake instead,

the spoiled caged cockatoo,

clip-winged, inside a square

of domesticity

on a low bamboo perch

of limited horizons,

squawking white with resentment.

 

Life did not let you fly

into wild cones of power.

 


Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel toGodwit:  Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. Forthcoming this fall is Psyche’s Scroll, a full-length poem, published by The Poetry Box Selects. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poe Redux, athttp://karlalinn.blogspot.com. Google her name to learn more; Tweet @LinnMerrifiel;https://www.facebook.com/karlalinn.merrifield.

 

 

Removal By Phil Huffy

Removal By Phil Huffy

Such uneven walls,

long abided though aged.

Just look at the old place—

a snug place, a small place,

offering solace, a tepid bath,

a quiet meal

and granting the view

out back to familiar scenes.

 

Some cold comfort came

amid these empty rooms.

Warm nights, or lonely ones,

and sunny mornings watching

the street though grimy panes

before exiting

for a day’s endeavors,

emerging to city sounds.

 

A few secrets will be

left behind, forgotten soon;

some chapters closed

or locked away, abandoned.

They can languish here,

and after some paint

and such the next along will

come take up the narrative.


Phil Huffy is a repurposed lawyer from Rochester, New York.  He was formerly a hobbyist songwriter and one -man band, but he left the group in a huff.  Recent placements include Poets Reading the News, The Lyric, Westward Quarterly and Better Than Starbucks.

 

A Windless Journey To D by Bruce McRae

A Windless Journey To D by Bruce McRae

A poem about a man trampled

by starlight, his ropes creaking.

The man as a red berry crushed

between god-teeth, a blood-fat flea,

his bones carved into dice, man-guts

fluttering like flowery ribbons, the

Black Lord’s soul-clamps straining

to be purposeful, flesh creeping as

they opened up his skull that night,

the hard-as-diamond cranium, with

a titanium-coated handsaw. Do you

know that taste, our disappointment?

Here I am, the man insists,

more of a threat than an answer.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a Pushcart nominee with over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pskis Porch), all available via Amazon.