Bones Dance, by Nanette Rayman

Bones Dance
by Nanette Rayman

Out of the rain near a forest, they’ve discovered some beautiful bones—
eaten by animals, rotted by insects, cradling a journal decorated
with lilacs and watermark stripes. There are things worse than death.

Was she an American, an actress, a dancing lawyer? Did she touch
a dark orchid in its dark lips of death? What is a woman—if fragrance
and bones and flesh are here one moment and not the next?
Does without-home double as done bones? I remember that home,

my mother whipping shame onto my face, my body—look, you!
This is what you’ve done, you’ve unraveled this house with that face
that all they boys want. I can’t have that.
I remember my body being
flat and skinny, no bosoms and wild flames making me un-dead in that crypt.

They say it’s the sweetest way to suffer: the mother’s hard Allongé
as bully and decadent shamble, and so it is, a daughter holds tight
to her Arabesque. She may end up away, away from a house
supping at her bones, one by one. A mother like that, blackbird posse
of one, creates waves of dehydrated sighs, and a daughter drifts as G-d
made her—soft-lipped and pretty, past that mother, so many pains to get over.
A mother like that becomes irrelevant except as teacher to what is driven
wild, what is narcissist, what is to be avoided. And still, the daughter ends
up as pretty bones. There are things worse than death. Across the river,
a silhouette in light returns to another world, alive in her own skin, a dancer
over-under—Sus-sous—springing onto relevé demi-pointe and holding
a bouquet of orchid orchids. Home.

Nanette Rayman winner of the Glass Woman Prize, included in Best of the Net—2007, DZANC Best of the Web—2010, has published in journals such as The Worcester Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Carve, Up the Staircase Quarterly, gargoyle, Sundog, Little Rose Magazine, Stirring’s Steamiest Six, Sugar House, Wilderness House Literary Review.

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Cherry Blossom Time, by Nanette Rayman

Cherry Blossom Time
by Nanette Rayman

The heart is a house on Abbey Lane above the subterranean
Belly like a freighter soldiering through dense fog.
I finally grew weary of dreaming that house was my home.
I created a side show in my heart, a voluptuous fantasy
Like lusty love, kept it in a box and put it away, never
To be bubbled up or looked into. The blinds
Are always drawn, the door always locked, a fusillade
Of cannonade meant to keep me out unless invited
As daughter, as shunned without knowing the real
Reason. How I envy the feather-veined leaves of the weeping
Willows, their buds fused into a cap shape, protected
Dancers outside that house. How I envied the innocent
Eyes of the other kids, non-glassy and forthright, locked
Into trust of this world I never had in that house.

When I planned to come back to you Dad
It was cherry blossom time, and tangelo-sun
Time, the prettiest fade of light into dark at dinner
Time with the rising shots of mosquitoes between
All those pink blossoms. When I dreamed the night
Before you died that you may have died, the night
Before I thought to buy a ticket to Georgia, time
Like spring weeds quintupled, it was up, it was all
Over. I was shadow beneath a million miles of sky
Beneath the Empire State Building. You would have
Taken me in, grabbing my hand, brushing past
That formidable mother, eye-lidded and disdainful.
You would have taken me in, kissed me on my face,
You would have said: My daughter.

Nanette Rayman winner of the Glass Woman Prize, included in Best of the Net—2007, DZANC Best of the Web—2010, has published in journals such as The Worcester Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Carve, Up the Staircase Quarterly, gargoyle, Sundog, Little Rose Magazine, Stirring’s Steamiest Six, Sugar House, Wilderness House Literary Review.

Hailstorm, by by Alan Walowitz

Hailstorm    (August 1, 2011)
by Alan Walowitz

The rages of recent days settle upon us,
grow into practical comforts:
those we’d trusted to allay the silence are silent;
one-time lovers barely recognized in the hall;
what might have been called kindness once
—a nod as we pass, a door noiselessly latched,
Such a handsome tie — become particular annoyances.
As is this sudden sun, the way it nudges us unwilling
into a mood we’ve lost the context for.

So let’s remember with nostalgia just yesterday
when the rain turned to hail the size of lab rats,
translucent, fat and blind—
they made that scurrying rat-tat-tat on the roof
and those death-defying dents in the parked cars
and even the ones trying to escape
though there was nowhere to go.

It’s harsh weather that could comfort those
who lose sight of what life is about—
ducking shards when the glass shatters about us
even in the so-called safety of our homes.
Here’s real running through the rain
and not even vaguely romantic.
The drops, suddenly so visible,
might turn out to be much less hazardous
to our long-term health and well-being.

Process Notes: The hailstorm of August 1, 2011 was a frightening event. The sky darkened and soon the rain turned to hail, and some of the hail was the size of baseballs. My car had both front and back windshields shattered, as well as a side view mirror. There were dents all over any car left outside. Skylights in homes were shattered. Roofs had to be replaced. All within a space of less than a half-hour and only within a two mile radius of here. I think the poem tries to capture some of the fright of the event, as well as some of my amazement.

Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web–and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an online journal, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing. For more see alanwalowitz.com.

The Winnowed Approach, by Marilyn Braendeholm

The Winnowed Approach
by Marilyn Braendeholm

of tulips.
of daffodils.
they compete
with bare-knuckled weather.
they prepare
against the weight of snow,
against stem-breaking frost,
against long-tooth grey,
and still spring promises
on approach. comes,
day upon day,
and speaks to us
in four season languages,
wearing
its winnowed face.

Marilyn Braendeholm (‘Misky’) lives in the UK surrounded by flowers, grapevines, bubbling pots of sourdough starter, and people she loves. She never buys clothing without pockets. Her work is widely published. Between the Lines https://foundlines.wordpress.com

Passing By Your House, by Michael Minassian

Passing By Your House
by Michael Minassian

Lately, I’ve passed by your house
although you don’t live there anymore;
the new owners never say hello
even when I wave and smile,
flicking open my umbrella
as if words were collected rain
and they would recognize me
from a distance of so many years.

The town where we grew up
looks smaller, the roads narrow
and spinning out like a spider’s tears
anchoring to the top of the hill
bordering the park near my old home,
and you, you are a bird
ambushed in my memory
unpacking your wings.

Process notes: The inspiration for this poem came to me when I used Google Maps to search for the house where I grew up in a small town in New Jersey. Everything was the same, but different.

Michael Minassian is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010) and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information: https://michaelminassian.com

Absence: Orphan, by Laurel S. Peterson

Absence: Orphan
by Laurel S. Peterson
       “Poetry ought to have a mother as well as a father.” Virginia Woolf

Even now, mother,
you are absent still
in your own body
and from mine.
I was hungry.
You fed me dreams
until I was starved
near to death
for bread and milk.
I was thirsty,
you gave me silence to drink,
empty and black;
my soul dehydrated to ash.
I was lonely,
so you left me alone
in the wasteland your pain made.

So then, what mother?

A mother of snow, blooming
like chrysanthemums in moving headlights,
a mother of geometry,
like thin ice over running water,
like sunlight’s long arc over summer.

Neglect makes of me
the heron that flaps
startled
into brilliant air.

Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College. Her poetry has been published in many small literary journals. She has two poetry chapbooks: That’s the Way the Music Sounds, from Finishing Line Press (2009) and Talking to the Mirror from The Last Automat Press (2010). She also co-edited a collection of essays on women’s justice titled (Re)Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women’s Experience (2009). Her mystery novel, Shadow Notes, was released by Barking Rain Press in May 2016, and the second in the series will be out sometime this year. A full length collection of poetry, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer You? was released by Futurecycle Press in 2017. She is the current poet laureate of Norwalk, CT.

The Comfort Of Mermaids, by Laurel S. Peterson

The Comfort Of Mermaids
by Laurel S. Peterson

Cape Cod: the beach stretches in all directions, the sand not yet hot enough to burn our feet. The tide is still coming in as it is early, maybe 9 or 9:30, and high tide won’t threaten the beach until lunchtime. The aunts find a perfect patch—not too close to the dunes where the boys roughhouse, not too close to the incoming tide and well above the tide line with its long lumpen hillock of gifts: seaweed, shells, small struggling crabs, gleaming stones that shine with damp glory like jewels. Seagulls forage and plovers play truth or dare with the waves until we come near, then everyone scatters.

       The aunts set their beach chairs in a row, lay out rainbow-striped towels, set the picnic basket on a big square blanket, itchy with wool and old sand. Later, we will eat chicken or tuna sandwiches, bananas or apples, cookies.

       But before lunch, magic: a sandcastle, its long moat constructed so the waves fill it with each ingress, an engineering feat demonstrated by my father the pilot, who rarely joins us here. These are women’s outings: the aunts, my grandmother, my mother and her sister, me. Comfort lives in the company of women.

       The aunts wear swimsuits with skirts and heavy rubber bathing caps that they bought in the Chatham Five and Dime, where we also bought kites, plastic buckets and shovels, candy. The caps flaunt big plastic flowers, pink petals that flap free and smell like a galosh. For a long time, I was made to wear one of these so my ears didn’t get sea-clogged, and the world sounded echo-y and distant from inside its rubbery-ness, as if I were under water.

       I am not allowed in the water alone. Harwichport sits on the Atlantic side of the Cape, which means a rip tide. Aunt May wraps her warm hand around my sandy one, and slow-hops the waves as they roll in, cold on her belly, until she can stand it, then lets herself tip forward, always keeping her head above water. Dad persuaded me this slow process was unnecessary torture, so I dive under as soon as the water grows deep enough.

       Early on, Mother took to calling me a fish. I am not afraid of getting my face wet; I prefer being underwater to being above, safely immersed in a place free of family control and care. Maybe playing mermaids is a natural extension of this love of the waves moving over me, thundering my body this way and that, sliding me down the beach with the current, so I have to swim against it. What I don’t like is what lies on the bottom: sharp shells, lurking crabs who pinch my toes, little nibbly fish. Sometimes, in the warm August water that nurtures acres of tangled seaweed, the game involves getting out a little further than is comfortable to stay free of the vegetation in which things other than seawater hide.

       Keep my feet up, up, up. Stay in the clear water. Swim for shelter when the scary stuff appears. Mermaids don’t hide in seaweed, only in Aunt May’s arms, her slippery, salty softness bearing me up in the waves.

Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College. Her poetry has been published in many small literary journals. She has two poetry chapbooks: That’s the Way the Music Sounds, from Finishing Line Press (2009) and Talking to the Mirror from The Last Automat Press (2010). She also co-edited a collection of essays on women’s justice titled (Re)Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women’s Experience (2009). Her mystery novel, Shadow Notes, was released by Barking Rain Press in May 2016, and the second in the series will be out sometime this year. A full length collection of poetry, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer You? was released by Futurecycle Press in 2017. She is the current poet laureate of Norwalk, CT.

At The Playground, by Laurel S. Peterson

At The Playground
by Laurel S. Peterson

It takes me all summer
to remember,
dig through the granite walls
around me—
shoulds that enclose,
windowless, doorless.
I had forgotten joy,
weighted by the male American vision
of the world running on the grease
of what’s next?

This summer,
words waterfalled across a journal
from a gutter overstuffed
with forgotten debris.
Sun glittered through raindrops
coddled by maple leaves
and daylily petals.
The playground door unlocked

and behind it lay
a double-flowered narcissus,
a fuzzy cat named for a mountain,
an old lover I have conjured
from old pillow scraps, bits of glass
and the wild, wild waves.

Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College. Her poetry has been published in many small literary journals. She has two poetry chapbooks: That’s the Way the Music Sounds, from Finishing Line Press (2009) and Talking to the Mirror from The Last Automat Press (2010). She also co-edited a collection of essays on women’s justice titled (Re)Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women’s Experience (2009). Her mystery novel, Shadow Notes, was released by Barking Rain Press in May 2016, and the second in the series will be out sometime this year. A full length collection of poetry, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer You? was released by Futurecycle Press in 2017. She is the current poet laureate of Norwalk, CT.

True Magic, by Christopher Hileman

True Magic
by Christopher Hileman

It all rests on thought
but not my thought and not yours.
All the world jitters
in small round orbits
around millions of black holes
in any seen heart
and unseen dream life
as we utter charms of filled
up sacs and dewlaps
hung pendulous, pale
and damp, hoping charms will work
a true magic soon.
The desperate ones
declare trueheart devotion
and try for lost love.
I hold you even
so, in the face of these things
and all that will come.

Christopher Hileman moved to Oregon in 1973. He has retired to live on the volcanic bluff overlooking Willamette Falls in Oregon City, Oregon. He ascends the stairs from his basement digs to improvise on his Yamaha keyboard or the house Playel grand when the calico cat releases him from below. The part-Irish Wolfhound here likes him.

Cross Country, by Michael Minassian

Cross Country
by Michael Minassian

The postcards arrived week after week
each one from a different state

and signed with a different name:
Ramona, Lady Jane, Angel, Miranda;

all of them written in your lazy scrawl
leaning to the right like trees in the wind

two burning eyes drawn above
my name written in red ink.

Later one night, I hear a noise
outside my window

as if someone rearranged
the furniture of the wind;

perhaps it is you
sharpening your dreams

or the ghost of lost words
preparing for your return.

Process notes: The poem was inspired by a series of anonymous letters I received after graduating college many years ago.

Michael Minassian is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010) and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information: https://michaelminassian.com