Author: Jake Kemman

June 26, 2015 – Andrea Gregory

June 26, 2015 – Andrea Gregory

Wooden beams lock me in

Old wonder long faded

Is God not love?

The words of hate reverberate

I can no longer belong

A thing like marriage isn’t meant for hate

This is a mold I cannot fit,

But one I cannot break.

~~~

Andrea Gregory is a Hagerstown Community College student. She likes hiking and spending her weekends surrounded by friends.

Eon of Suns – Colleen Brohawn

Eon of Suns – Colleen Brohawn

Eons of Suns

All the scores of youthful lusts divide

Within the decadence of brilliant days.

I am rendered speechless, in the desperation the age brings forth;

Could it have been you who brought me here to waste along the wind?

Could it have been a garden night that so enraged me,

To take you, at once, my silent, loving bride?

To sever centuries is to deny the light of truths and fables.

What an unjust age can bring to an eon of suns,

Prejudices and mockeries that once sizzled and burned but never broke,

Now rise in the collective mind and thoughtless haze.

Beats that can’t understand the defiance of rhythm

Betray the eternal symphony: the sacred life and casts of memories, wounds unhealed.

~~~

Colleen lives in Hagerstown, Maryland and is a student at Hagerstown Community college, majoring in general studies. When she transfers, she will be majoring in journalism.

Cedars-Sinai, Harpist – James Croal Jackson

Cedars-Sinai, Harpist – James Croal Jackson

Here’s two more from James:

___

Cedars-Sinai

Vital signs at zero, a squiggly line gone infinity–

guess what I’ve prepared for. An eternity of this

nothingness. I tossed the phone like a grappling

hook at your distance and it caught. You left it

hanging on the bricks, though, and moved to

California, where I used to sleep the streets in

my Ford Fiesta, the same car we drove to Melt:

a time bomb heart attack. How close we were

back then, each deep-fried grilled cheese bite

hushed the thrumming. Fingers greasy– wiped

on napkins, wiped and wiped and wiped.

Harpist

Every suburb needs a callous-

fingered harpist to bleed heaven

from her hands from her driveway,

to raindrop angels into puddles

after storms of indifference.

Imagine: lawns grow in

the pizzicato of days first plucked,

then plodding. Homes, once full

of promise, rot– bricks erode

to the sharp of strings

slowly falling from the sky.

Boneless Wings, Cigs – James Croal Jackson

Boneless Wings, Cigs – James Croal Jackson

Welcome to May, everyone!

Though you are reading this from us, the Spring ’19 editors, you are reading it in absentia. Our time, though wonderful, is up in the Hedge Apple chair. As it says in the post pinned to the top of the site, we are closed for submissions until the next editors start their own journey.

Just because the Hedge Apple is, for now, untended doesn’t mean, however, we can’t bring you as many wonderful submissions as possible.

Here are a couple of poems from James Croal Jackson–the first is perhaps fitting for the wistfulness we feel over our, for the moment, empty chairs.

These also deserve, as any poem does, in every way to stand in their own light–to share their unique colors with the world.

Enjoy:

___

Boneless Wings

Following a trip to Vegas

in August heat, my skin itched

for good. I ended us.

No, you said. We were a done deal.

You would not leave my apartment.

We drank juice and vodka

to forget we had ever

talked about forever.

We rode a Lyft to BW3

at 2 P.M. on a Thursday

because a cheap happy hour

is a kind of grim reminder.

We ordered boneless wings at the bar.

The bartender told us ignition is cheap.

Beer stripped us to tender meat

and there was no more steam.  

Your skirt mushroomed in the breeze

when you stepped outside to smoke.  

We had locked ourselves out when

the clouds produced rain, not keys.

Cigs

we smoke

our paper

lungs

in the storm

then run

from your mom

to seek

an awning

to shield

the holes

in our chests

flames

tempered

by rain

clouds

scream

from our mouths

billowed gray

how it floats

above like

to warn us

forests need not

consume flame

___

James Croal Jackson swore he’d never work in film again after leaving L.A. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Columbia Journal, Rattle, and Hobart. He edits The Mantle. Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. jimjakk.com

POND Acrostics – John L. Stanizzi

POND Acrostics – John L. Stanizzi

Hey, all,

Here’s a beautiful set of short acrostics which Jon graciously provided to us from the experiences of his project.

We’ll let him explain:

“These are poems from a project called POND.  Every day, for one year, I will walk to our pond, jot a few notes, and take a photo or two.  Then I’ll write a 4-line acrostic using P, O, N, D as my first letters, with the extra caveat of never using the same first-word twice.  I began the book on November 9, 2018 – will finish November 9, 2019.
Grazie.

-John “

Thank you again, John.

Enjoy, everyone:

___

11.10.2018

10.06 a.m.

34 degrees

Pitchy dark where winter has just this moment arrived

out of the north hills; it crawls up under my shirt,

naturally and unfazed, as if it were trying to warm itself —

daguerrean-downstream rush of the brook gossips with its cold voice.


11.11.2018

3.11 p.m.

39 degrees

Ponds’ conflux – run-off from Fowler’s pond

overflows the small stone wall along with street run-off;

nozzling, they warble a crystal duet in the bird-less

dusk beginning to bear down on the half-buried bullheads sleeping.


11.13.2018

2.46 p.m.

39 degrees

Piety arrives with a female evening grosbeak.

Offed by chill wind, the leaves cover the wet forest ground.

Nearby, the look of running water

dazzles like a miniature Topajos, miniature Amazon.

11.24.18

8.33 a.m.

24 degrees

Peabody, Peabody, Peabody, Old Sam Peabody!

Oblique geometry here, mirror-smooth there, thick battered hem, gray

nuances of ice seal it all – those on the bottom – those in the bottom.

Determined white-throated sparrow searching for Sam, though I’m the only one here.


12.2.18

12.30 p.m.

45 degrees

Peaceful rain, steady all night, leaves the ground soppy

overshowered and spongy, and the confluence of springs

necks torrential, as the rain soaks the air,

dampening everything but falling so lightly that the pond is silent.

12.5.18

2.39 p.m.

35 degrees

and your tears on the wings of the plane

where once again I cannot

reach to stop them

and they fall away behind

going with me


-W.S. Merwin

– …from Plane (The Carrier of Ladders)

Plane.  One of my very favorite poems

of W.S. Merwin’s.  He is our beloved

nobleman of the rees, with me

daily, a knot of sparrows tied to the cedar.

___

John L. Stanizzi is author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces, and Chants.  His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut River Review, and many others.  Stanizzi has been translated into Italian and his poems have appeared in many journals in Italy. His translator is Angela D’Ambra.  Stanizzi teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut, and lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Spring ’19 Submission Window Closing

Spring ’19 Submission Window Closing

Hi, all!

This is just a quick but important announcement.

Though we do love reading each and every submission we receive, our tenure as Spring editors is nearly up. Our focus has shifted to presenting, here on our website, all the great work we’ve received since the beginning of the year as well as producing the Spring 2019 print edition of Hedge Apple.

Starting after 12:00PM EDT tomorrow, Saturday April 20, 2019, we will no longer accept or consider any additional submissions for the Spring issue of the Hedge Apple.

The Hedge Apple will remain closed until a new host of student-editors take residence in, by the very latest, Spring of 2020.

Thank you all for reading, considering, and submitting. On behalf of the Hedge Apple we wish you luck in your future creative endeavors and hope that you all enjoy the summer.

Also, keep tabs on our website! We’ll continue publishing on (or near) the daily for as long as our supply of stories, poems, and other fabulous creative works lasts.

Thanks again for a great Spring.

Best Wishes,

The Editors

Revival – Mark Houston McLain

Revival – Mark Houston McLain

Mark’s writing for Revival is captivating. It tugs at you as much as it does envelop. The world he paints, along with its characters, is at once verdant and tragic. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Reader discretion is advised for physical and emotional violence.

___

REVIVAL

Ruth

When I was a girl, my Momma and me would sing together.  She would be working her hands on that washboard and look over at me and smile, singin’ that song as happy as she could while not knowing she was working herself to an early grave.  The winter after Daddy left, she got sick and died and left me all alone. I was sixteen and that’s when Irwin asked me to marry him. I guess he felt sorry for me because I had only met him a couple of times and had given him no reason to like me.  His family had a large farm and they said we could live there. Where else could I go? So, I said I would marry him, and we decided we could have a wedding at the end of summer and live with his Momma and Daddy until we could build our own house.

I went to church some, but Irwin and his folks were a Bible bunch and I reckon they thought since I was going to be part of the family, they had better start workin’ on me.  A couple of weeks after we told everyone we were going to get married, the whole family packed up in the truck and we drove down the highway about an hour to a hay field in the valley of a large farm.  We unloaded the truck and pitched a canvas tent next to a group of other families. In the middle of the tents was a haulin’ trailer with a big shiny microphone roosted on a metal stand. Hangin’ behind it was a white sheet with big red letters

HAVE YOU BEEN WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB?

That first afternoon we laid out blankets on the hay field in front of the trailer, and we were right in the front, as close as we could get.  In the evening, two women got up and stood on both sides of that microphone and began to sing and everybody that knew that song joined in. They sang two more songs and then left the stage.  Someone turned on a string of lights that hung right over the trailer, and a lanky man ran up the wooden stairs two at a time and onto that stage and grabbed that shiny microphone and yelled into it and said Hallelujah! Have you been saved? as he held up his hands high in the air.  He was young, and I don’t know if he had even shaved yet, but he was wearing a black suit and a white cotton shirt and that is the first time I ever saw anybody in a suit.  He had a head full of red wavy hair and it was all combed over and was the prettiest hair I had ever seen. It shined like a new penny when he walked under that string of lights.

He began preachin’ and walking himself back and forth across that stage.  Every once in a while he’d stop and look me in the eyes, and I figured it was the Lord talkin’ right at me.  After he finished, the two women got up and sang again, then the lights went off and we went back to the tent for the night.  Only I couldn’t sleep in that old hot canvas tent with all them family in there. Whenever somebody moved it woke me up all over again.  I told Irwin I was gonna sleep outside, and I don’t know if he even heard me. I took my pillow and went and put it down on that stage and slept like a baby under the stars.

The next day we all walked down to the river and Irwin’s Momma had packed some cornbread and greens, so we all ate and put our feet in the water.  That evening as the crickets started to chime, we went back to the trailer and the same two women came out to sing and I waited on the red headed preacher to come on the stage, but it wasn’t him but a big man in blue pants and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled way up.  He did some preachin’. He’d stop ever so often and say Amen and take his hanky and wipe all the sweat off his face.  I didn’t hear much of what he said, I was wonderin’ what had happened to that other preacher.

That night, when the family was all getting settled in the tent, I told Irwin I was gonna sleep outside again.  He said I was sure to get eat up by skeeters and rolled over. So, I went back out across the field to the trailer and throwed my blanket down under that big sky and the preacher with the red hair comes walkin’ up.  He don’t have his suit on and he sure looks different. He asks me what I’m doing out here. He takes his smoke and crushes it out on the metal edge of the trailer and asks me if I have ever been baptized. I shook my head no and he says we should go down to the river.

We walked down the steep bank to the river and sat on some big rocks along the side.  He kept talkin’ about cars and shotguns and whiskey, but he didn’t say nothing more about baptizing.  The moon was big that night and I figured I might as well sit and talk with him cause the sky was so bright, I wasn’t gonna see any stars anyway.  That red hair almost glowed in the night and I kept looking at his eyes when he talked and didn’t even realize that he had put his hand on my leg and slid it up under my dress some.  He went to whisper in my ear and I thought it was gonna be something about baptizing but instead he just kinda rubbed my neck with his mouth. It happened fast after that. I was lookin’ up at that big moon and pretty quick-like he stopped moving on me and just lay there and I figure that’s when he filled me with his spirit.

******

Irwin

I used to tell myself he don’t mean no harm.  But I’m an old man and now I know that sometimes you can see a thing for what it really is.  I come to realize that sometimes there is evil in the world and that’s all you can say. That boy come into this life screamin’ and I reckon he won’t quit ‘til they lay him in the ground.  He don’t look like none of my folk but I raised him just the same. I knew it as soon as I seen the little bastard. Damn boy come out with that red hair, how the hell was I supposed to think he were mine?  Raised him though, and claimed him for my own when I knowed he wasn’t. She let me name him and I give him my uncle’s name and I shore wish I hadn’t.

When that boy was just a little feller he was pure evil, I mean weren’t a decent bone in him.  Killin’ stuff around here just for the fun of it. Ants and spiders when he was knee high. Coons and possums later.  Once he killed him a huntin’ dog. A damn huntin’ dog.  Had a collar on it and everything.  I told him it were a redbone and some hunter would sure be lookin’ for him.  He didn’t care. He just kilt it to watch it bleed out. I told him it sure was a sin if I ever heard one to kill a man’s huntin’ dog.  He just stood there and looked at me with that red hair stickin’ up. I give up on the boy right then and there. Roof. Heat. Food. That’s all that youngin is going to get from me.  I said to myself thank God he ain’t from me, I ain’t got that evil blood runnin’ through me.

Ruthie and me don’t talk about him no more.  She never let me lay into him, whip him a few times.  It’s because she knows he ain’t mine. We he was about twelve or so, he got into trouble, something to do with cornering a girl after school and holding her down.  School principal showed up at the house and said Don’t send Parnell back down here, we don’t want him.  That boy gonna have to get his learnin’ somewheres else.   Ruthie told ‘em they was all damn liars but deep down she knew it was true.  Only time I ever heard her swear in her whole life. She tried all the time to get him some salvation, but he never seen the need for it.  Sometimes at night she’d read to him from the Bible and he’d sit there staring into the fire, listening to her reading all the thous and shalls, his cold eyes all fixed and he’d just have this little smirk in the corner of his mouth and sometimes right in the middle of a readin’ he’d bust out and laugh and she’d stop readin and look at him.  I mean right at him. I could see she was madder’n hell, but I knew she’d be right there on her knees that night prayin’ against all that evil in him. One night she just slammed her Bible shut and went to bed and cried all night and I figured that’s when she gave up on him too.

******

Parnell

I had a girlfriend once.  I was about sixteen. Pretty girl.  Her neck and face as smooth and white as sweet milk.  I met her down at the river. It was summertime and hot as dammit.  One day Momma said she wanted me to see a preacher man. I asked her why and she stayed quiet for a real long time and I thought, well fine then don’t say nothin’, I don’t care.  Then she said she wanted to get me right with the Lord and I thought well hell, why not. Damn old truck bout didn’t make it over the mountain. We drove for a good long while before we pulled up in the dirt parking lot of this church.  I couldn’t read the sign, but I saw it had a steeple so I knowed it was a church. Made out of cinder blocks with white paint peeling and hangin’ off and that steeple on it were way too small looking and I thought this don’t look like no place to get any religion.  Momma said to stay in the truck and so I sat there while she went inside. After a while she came back out with this big bald-headed feller and they stood there in front of the door with Momma talking at him and him standing there with his arms crossed just lookin’ at me and noddin’ and I thought this don’t look good.  Momma waved me on and I walked up to them and ole baldy put his arm around me and kinda pulled me along into the church. We walked right up to the front, where all the preachin’ is done and he said I was a sinner and that I gotta get down on my knees, and so I figured we come all this way I might as well do what the man said so I kneeled on down and then he smacked my head real hard like and started screamin’ and then Momma started screamin’ and all the while I was the one bein’ smacked and I was the only one weren’t hollerin’.  After he popped me a couple more times and yelled some more, he laid his hand on my head and I didn’t pay no attention to what he said but he had my head under that big hand of his and it was a shakin’ like he was trying to send something down into me. He let it go all of the sudden and told me Get Up! and I did, and I could see Momma standing there with her hands all up in the air shoutin’ and the tears a washin’ down her face.  She durn near shook the hand off that old preacher and then handed him two dollar bills. On the way home, we stopped at a blue hole down by the river to eat our sandwiches and I saw her.  She was swimmin’ and she knew everybody was watching her, but she didn’t care. I sat right there and watched her swim. Her hair was all slicked back on her head. When she got out of the water and on the bank, I could see her pretty bottom in that swimmin’ suit and she knew I was lookin’.  She stood up and pulled at her top and bottom to make sure that nothing ain’t fell out when she got out on that rock, standing there in the sun. About that time, she bent over, and I said GODDAMN! and Momma commenced to start bawlin’ and said she reckoned the devil ain’t been out of me and that preacher must not be no good, and I started laughin’ cause I guess that’s the funniest thing I ever heard.

******

The social worker stood on the stoop of the tattered shack, tears flowing down her cheeks as her trembling fingers flicked at her cigarette.  The sheriff should be here soon, she thought. On the rotten porch steps, she could see Parnell’s bloody boot prints heading in the direction of the heavily wooded creek area.  In the open front doorway lay Irwin, his eyes open and fixed in the furrowed skin of his cold, white face. Only the handle of a large hunting knife could be seen, as the whole of the blade was entombed in the side of his chest.  In the shack, some cinders remained smoldering from a neglected fire and a heavy ash lay over the stone hearth. The room showed the leftovers of a violent struggle. In the rocker next to the hearth sat Ruth. She rocked in silence save for the runners of the chair creaking with each pass on the floor.  Her old hazy lensed glasses sat perched on her nose as she read from a well-worn Bible that lay open across her lap. Her craggy face showed no signs of distress or horror, but of serene peace and calmness. Along the worn floor, the blood that had drained from the wound in Irwin’s side wasn’t the bright red of a fresh cut, but a crimson as deep as the reddest of wines.  The blood had rivered along the knotted pine floor to pond at the low area beneath Ruth’s rocker where some of it had soaked up into the thick wool socks she was wearing.

___

Mark McLain loves to write short stories about the South.  A seventh-generation Tennessean, he is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and enjoys spending time with his family floating the Hiwassee River and hiking in the Appalachians. His work has appeared in Gravel and Mulberrry Fork Review.

Prediction, Faculty Drub – Phil Huffy

Prediction, Faculty Drub – Phil Huffy

This is Phil’s second publication with Hedge Apple. His first, last semester, is also on our website.

Prediction is an honestly-described tale of recollection. Faculty Drub is a limerick–Phil’s seeming signature with us.

(It seems both we and our immediate predecessors appreciate limericks.)

Enjoy:

___

Prediction

He looked into the future

at the Corinth County Fair.

The cost of this? Two dollars,

promptly paid.


It seemed uniquely quiet

in the fortune teller’s lair.

The hoopla right outside went

unrelayed.


She took his hand quite firmly

and remarked about his palm

that a pleasing indication

was displayed


and told him there was something

from his past he’d soon enjoy,

to reassert a memory

long mislaid.

He headed for the midway

and the babble re-emerged

as he stepped into the sunlight

from the shade


and thought that he’d be foolish

to believe in such a tale,

yet felt the urge

to buy a lemonade.

~~~

Faculty Drub

A professor of eminent station

had been grading an English translation.

Although expertly made

it received a downgrade

for a comma outside a quotation.

___

Phil Huffy writes early and often at his kitchen table in upstate New York. He has been published frequently, with nearly 100 pieces finding homes in the last twelve months.


Photo in a Box – Eric Schwartz

Photo in a Box – Eric Schwartz

This submission from Prof. Schwartz really tugs at the drawstrings of life. Everyone’s experience is colored by sights, sounds, and sensations that remind them of where they’ve been. Sometimes the smallest things can bring conscious and subliminal self-definitions flooding back. That’s the magic of the mind.

Enjoy:

___

Photo in a Box

Somewhere in a notebook, under many other notebooks, in a box surrounded by many other boxes, upstairs in the attic is a photo of a window open to a late spring day and an old black t-shirt washed by hand that hangs on a wire clothes hanger and flaps in the breeze. No one is in the photo, but a moment of my youth is captured there, a moment not long after I sold the car that I had driven to nation’s capital, the car into which I had packed all my personal belongings, the car that broke down in the middle lane of the Beltway during the morning rush hour after a marathon drive from the Midwest. Yes, I sold that car. Broke up with my girlfriend in DC. Gave up on the job I was sure to find in that city and headed up the East Coast with my belongings now fitting in a large blue backpack that was fraying on the edges.

The backpack is not in the photograph.

I think now of that moment when my life seemed suspended, flapping like that damp t-shirt in the breeze. I had no job prospects. No concrete sense of what awaited me in the days, weeks, or months ahead. No girlfriend. No belongings except what fit in my backpack. That wide-open sense of the unknown yawned before me, an open road, a blank calendar, a life ahead with everything uncertain.

That moment seems now so far away. When I think of it, it’s not that I want to reclaim or certainly not to relive those days. But I also recognize the strange charm of that time, that power of the looming unknown, the undefined potential of youth. I know this was my story, but I also know it is not mine alone. We don’t all have that moment, but many of us do, a moment when the supporting fabric of our life is cut away, and in what is left we clearly feel the infinite variations suddenly possible in the life that stretches ahead, variations in that life that are spun by the choices we make and will make moment after moment after moment.

A couple of days after taking that photo, I caught a Greyhound bus, making a couple of stops before landing at my brother’s place in Boston. My brother offered me a place to stay. I stayed. I lived out of that backpack for another year. I probably wore that t-shirt for another year after that. I lived. I made choices that led to more choices, more life. Eventually, I got rid of the backpack. I needed more and more boxes to hold more of my life. And now that photo is still somewhere up there in the attic, in one of those boxes.

___

Eric has been teaching political science and history at Hagerstown Community College since the autumn of 2012. Prior to college teaching, he worked as a journalist and journalism trainer in the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Walking This Cemetery at the Edge of Town – Richard Luftig

Walking This Cemetery at the Edge of Town – Richard Luftig

Here is the last of three poems Richard sent us. This one stands by itself in attribute to the solitude it describes. Winter can make all places seem lonelier, but especially the one described here. We suppose annual breaks from the visitations of seasonal friends are just another part of the cycle.

Regardless,

Enjoy:

___

Walking This Cemetery at the Edge of Town

The winter rain drips

from the bare arms

of these sentry oaks

 

while the moon threads

its light through needles

of western pine.

 

These markers so old

that even the dates

have disappeared

 

like memories

the dead possess

for the living

 

that went on before

them. Why, like monks,

do the weeds overgrowing

 

the headstones maintain

their orders of silence?

Out here you’d like

 

to think that the lilies

on the far edge

of the untended pond

 

would resurrect

themselves into

spring and perhaps

 

crickets that linger

in afternoon heat

would have something

 

to say on the matter.

But nothing remains

save for these grave

 

stones and the dead

leaves, mute wherever

they have come to reside.

 

___

Richard is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in California. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart prize and two poems recently appeared in Realms of the Mothers: The First Decade of Dos Madres Press. His latest book of poems will be forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2019. Richard’s webpage and blog may be found at richardluftig.com