And Only Infrequently, by Holly Day

And Only Infrequently
by Holly Day

We exchange pictures through the mail because words
aren’t good enough. The passage of time is explained
through the faces of strangers, in the pictures of children
only known in person as tiny, warm babies
coiled and asleep, newly born. The envelopes

also contain pictures of people I know
but older, grayer, tired. My sister’s gap-toothed smile
has been replaced by the tight grin
of a woman with perfect teeth
standing next to her own family—her goofy college sweetheart
is now a man holding hands with a toddler.
I put pictures of me, my children, their father
in a similar envelope
seal it without looking

without wanting to look
still in denial that time
has passed at this end as well.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

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Floating Away, by Holly Day

       Floating Away
by Holly Day

I put the tiny boat
in the water and watch it
float away. Somewhere,
someday,

someone
will pull it out of the water,
either intact
or as a sodden, soggy newspaper mess, find

a tiny plastic bag
full of ashes
a sprig of dead lavender
your photograph, our wedding rings

and wonder

what it all means.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

Heading Home, by Alan Walowitz

Heading Home
by Alan Walowitz

Call off your dogs.
A seller I’ll be and happy–
or whatever you want–
if you give me a moment to think.

The highways of America stare
open and ready. And potholed,
you might say. But life is entrapment
avoiding being trapped in them.

Let me rodeo a moment.
I’ll convince Uncle Harry or anyone
that a cow’s life is just as my own,
waiting to be hoist and weighed.

I won’t wait on your reply.
for I don’t fear as you grow closer
and I grow old
we might emit some same syllables.

I’ll be ugly only
when our mouths move the same.
Uglier,
I’ll be home soon.

Process note: This is an old poem, from around 1972. I think I wrote it when I was convinced I wanted to be a Jewish cowboy; or perhaps I was just going through some extra, late-adolescent rebellion–which has continued right through today.

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.

It is the Nature of the Beast, by Debi Swim

It is the Nature of the Beast
by Debi Swim

See the wisteria’s jumbled limbs? Their tightly clasped leaves just beginning to unfurl makes a green lacy pattern against a clear sky. Soon it will be a jungle, a maze of hidey holes and perches for the birds. The feeder hangs from a low branch. All day juncos, grackles, jays, cardinals and their cousins dash and jostle, scrabble and fuss for a place on the ledge. A woodpecker swoops in, hangs by its claws, half its body underneath dangling like an acrobat. The nuthatches fling seed hither and yon – picky eaters – while below on the ground heavy, clumsy doves clean up their mess. Turkeys come early morning and late evening scratching the spot beneath the feeder for leftovers furrowing a patch that will become a muddy mess with the next rain.
Marvel at the chipmunk as he climbs the thick, twining base and gracefully, agilely jumps to the feeder, the squirrel, too. Deer come, mostly fall and winter and butt the feeder with their heads, then munch on the splatter at their leisure.

                In every season the feeder an oasis, a cheery café.

And yet, this happy scene is marred by an ominous shadow. A circling hawk is attracted by the activity below. His keen eyes on the prize, he waits for his chance, sees a careless chipmunk scampering across the lawn and with a noiseless plunge scoops his prey in deathly grip of talons and carries the limp bundle away. Imagine the calamity of it on a peaceful, ordinary day. The swiftness of the attack, the scurrying of the creatures and then the waiting, with trembling and skipping hearts till one brave bird dares the feeder again and all becomes normal again.
It is the way of nature and of the world. But, at least nature is not malicious. It does not attack out of hate and erroneous ideology. It is only survival. Let man take notice.

                Greed, terrorism, hate, ways of the human order, nature’s greatest foe.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

Nest Building, by Alan Toltzis

Nest Building
by Alan Toltzis

The first few years, mud and struggle
filled our yard. Longing for birdsong,
you played tapes of songbirds,
and kept a cage of finches.

Now, magnetite, DNA, scent, and star,
faithfully guide our sparrows.

Flitting
                              darting

       from

             sycamore

                                           to cherry

       to deck,
                              back

they
gather up bits of chickweed,
oak twig, twine, cedar scrap,
grass, and bark,
constructing yet another nest
under the retracted awning,
and the air sings
crescendos of lilting reassurance
that biology and fate
will lift us homeward.

Process Notes: The poem tells the back story. The sparrows arrived a couple weeks ago this year too.

Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment; his second book, 49 Aspects of Human Emotion, will be released this summer. Alan has been nominated for a Pushcart and his work has appeared in numerous print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and North of Oxford. alantoltzis.com.