Bad Days, by Kathleen Kimball-Baker

Bad Days
by Kathleen Kimball-Baker

When I open my mouth to speak
I talk in tears, so I’d rather
not talk much these days.

When I try to think how
to solve a problem, my head
cracks into pain, so I try not to think.

What has replaced thinking
is feeling. I have Feelings.
Big ones that suck all the air
out of a room, that want to
go on parade and slam cymbals,
wave pom-poms, and step high.

Between the tears, the headaches,
and the Big Feelings, the me
I like is buried and can’t dig out.

So I leave the words alone,
let the tears tantrum
into exhaustion, scoop away
all thought, and set the whole
wretched lot outside my
bedroom while I sleep the
base sleep of a concussive.

And here’s the hope that trills
in my heart: that all this
nastiness
will get bored
and slink away into the shadows.

 

Process notes: July 2016 marks 6 months since my head crash-landed on an icy sidewalk while walking my dogs. It’s been a roller-coaster recovery, moments of feeling almost normal, followed by deep lows where my usual sunniness abandons me. I started reading a book yesterday called The Ghost in My Brain: How A Concussion Stole My Life And How The New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back by Clark Elliott, PhD, an artificial intelligence researcher. It brought back a lot of the awful horrible fragile vulnerable feelings, so I think I’ll skip his story and go straight to plasticity! And then maybe I can write something not quite so dark.

 

Kathleen Kimball-Baker is a writer, editor, and public health analyst in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a three-time finalist in the Loft Literary Mentorship Competition, twice for fiction, and once for creative nonfiction; in 2012, her essay about becoming a dog sledder won an honorary mention from the Loft for creative nonfiction. Although she found poetry baffling for decades, something finally clicked and it is now her lens on life. Her poetry blog: In Linden Hills.

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I Dream in Fragments, by A.J. Huffman

I Dream in Fragments
by A.J. Huffman

of broken
mirrors
that never showed
anyone any type
of chance.
I weave myself
around their edges,
too carefully.
I cut myself every time.
Pieces of me
mingle with their jagged air
until I am breathing
nothing
but my own
dissolution.

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, fourteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses. Her most recent releases, Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers. She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2500 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com.

I Am Fingers, by A.J. Huffman

I Am Fingers
by A.J. Huffman

crossed, symbolic
motion of desperation,
of a hand in need
of something, anything
real(ly). I am empty
prayer, hollow words
spoken with little hope
and even less belief.
I am bare(ly) going
through the ritualistic motions
that promise nothing but
another waking into another
desperate tomorrow.

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, fourteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses. Her most recent releases, Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers. She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2500 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com.

The Man with the Pierced Tongue, by A.J. Huffman

The Man with the Pierced Tongue
by A.J. Huffman

and receding hairline fixed my car, and I
suddenly felt more secure in my decision
to dye the ends of my hair aqua. At 42,
iterating such intentions draws caustic tsks
from friends and family who do not understand
my lack of connection with that number
or my outright refusal to let it sway me
from my desire to do things that, however strange,
make me feel more like me.

 

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, fourteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses. Her most recent releases, Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers. She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2500 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com.

Chance, by Pat Anthony

Chance
by Pat Anthony

You gamble on good days,
throw the dice at a five o’clock
moon on the off chance that the
sixty minute drive northbound
will be free of the antlered ones,
their belly heavy mates swaying
from late beds to early breakfasts.

You wager on having just enough to get by,
the low side of fierce when you drag
armor and its weight drags at your very being.

Like seeing the hulk of the 1906 piano
minus keys, minus its damper assembly,
minus the music and you miss your soul.

You wonder about the slick fixer in the art
city by the river who will rewrap each hammer
and has conned you into believing that the
songs lie deep within the mahogany and not
the curling scraps around his feet.

After the day’s dealers go home, you gather
your take and the bag is heavy: the moon long
down, the fox settled into her den in the middle
pasture below the massive cedar. You listen
to the wind through its blue berried arms and
know for sure that what you hear tonight is true
music, the soughing notes all you need.

Process: Exploring whether to rebuild the old piano and being without it drove this poem, needing to search out the music that surrounds us.

Pat Anthony is a just retired Special Education teacher, writing from the heartland where she lives in the country. A lifelong poet, she writes daily, tries to edit faithfully, but enjoys the process of painting with words above all.

middlecreekcurrents.com

Outside the City Limits, by Pat Anthony

Outside the City Limits
by Pat Anthony

Hollyhocks grew at the end
of the clotheslines. Rocketed past
silver posts to sway above singing
steel ribbons and lure the risk taker
with saucer shaped blooms, stamens
laden with pollen and swollen
bumble bees. Escaping the steamy
house, she came and watched
them tumbling around like laundry
in the old Maytag. Looked for an
opening and slowly cupped
her hand behind a bloom,
steadied her breath, slid her fingers
forward and shut the glistening blossom,
deftly twisted the petals, snapped the
stem and launched the tiny missile
skyward. Like pastel parachutes they
fluttered open, bees winging toward
the eastern meadows, spent flowers
like deflated balloons. No one ever
questioned how she spent her time,
and bees don’t tell.

Process
Childhood experience. Besides my brothers, no one ever knew about his game, nor did it occur to me I might get stung. It was a celebration of morning sun, busy bees, and possibility.

Pat Anthony is a just retired Special Education teacher, writing from the heartland where she lives in the country. A lifelong poet, she writes daily, tries to edit faithfully, but enjoys the process of painting with words above all.

middlecreekcurrents.com

Voices, by Pat Anthony

Voices
by Pat Anthony

Friday, and she calls from a dark place,
says how she fears weekends with their
various demands, two days without the
structure of nine to five. I listen but

notice how in the far distance the black
silhouette of what surely must be a
swallowtail butterfly departs from the
Rose of Sharon, how dark things lift off

and take wing if we let them go about
their business. I ask if she’s making any
more scarves for the homeless camp and
she says yes, she’s finally sorted it out,

those tangled skeins, yarn. Thinks
she may have an idea or two. In her
silence I see the tortoiseshell cat by
the cantaloupe flats making her own fun.

Let the querulous voice inside my head go
still, yield to our mutual goodbyes and decide
to count butterflies on the sweet spire, rush
to save the garter snake from the kitten.

Process: As a writer living with bipolar disorder, I find life presents with multiple choices. This was a concrete example.

Pat Anthony is a just retired Special Education teacher, writing from the heartland where she lives in the country. A lifelong poet, she writes daily, tries to edit faithfully, but enjoys the process of painting with words above all.

middlecreekcurrents.com