Bent Trails, by John Huey

Bent Trails
by John Huey

As the summer progressed we wandered past
the lower hills and found a path at the peak.
Broken walls and stony farms, land reclaimed
and lost, drawn down, the silence here, the ridge
dwellers thinking of the frost to come.

Undemanding, these times challenged the atheist,
as if the purely material could not be infused with
beauty in the turbulence of the end of the decade
where belief in all its shadings was modified by the
shelter of contradiction as there we stood, with
absolute certainty, locked in affirmation, one hand
in another, the scent of freshly bathed skin and a
turning in the summer bed at twilight and in the dawn
the shift of limbs and the discovery that the fantasy of
what had passed no longer shadowed you as some sort
of requirement for belief.

So, the atheist said, struggle is struggle, the morning
light that strikes up the day being sufficient, flowers
in the field just so, a color burst on the retina and all
energy is equal as it crosses over to the brain for the
thinker and the dreamer alike.

And the hippies up there with bell and incense, fake
Indians, suburban shamans, bogus vision, picked up their
foggy tools and ascribed this real day to something or
someone else with evasive fictions to go with their
holographic nonsense to create something from vacant air.

The truth being that light is light only and is heat from the
sun expressed as breath, impulse and illumination,
this from within that is as actual as chemistry,
one cell in communication with another across an electric grid,
without external mediation, complete, present in the conviction
that what is seen is what is real.

And so, with these struggles, we still made it to the top of
Putney mountain and saw the valley and the green tops of
the native hills and felt the roar of the glaciers from tens of
thousands of years and saw the sun on the ice long before
the arrival of men in these parts and took in the breath of
science, a pure air on the top with the assurance
that one human thought communicated with grace
was enough for all the days and means and times and
that their distorted cosmologies missed the fine mornings
on the mountainside and failed to regard the sight of
the spheres above at night, as later, toward morning,
we saw the breath of the owl blown as mist from the crest
of the first winter tree, moving all these distortions aside
and making the facts sing.

John Huey’s student work of the 60’s-70’s was influenced by teachers in Vermont such as John Irving at Windham College and William Meredith at Bread Loaf.
After many years he returned to writing poetry in 2011. Recently he has had poems presented in two issues of Poetry Quarterly and in the Temptation anthology published in London by Lost Tower Publications. Work has also appeared in Leannan Magazine, Sein und Werden, at In Between Hangovers and in The Lost River Review. His first full length book, The Moscow Poetry File, has been accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press and it will be out in October 2017.

Monarch, by Peter D. Goodwin

Monarch
by Peter D. Goodwin

I’m sitting on my deck, the summer to drift by
when she sees a bright red orange sparkle fluttering
in the garden, touching on the buddleia, flying
high into the sky, behind a tree, drifting down again,
touching, tasting the purple flowers, drifting up and
down again to another tempting flower.

Joyfully she follows it, stimulated, greedy, ecstatic,
its gaudy colors shimmering in the afternoon light, its
wings opening closing, teasing—a monarch butterfly.
I realize with a shock that it had been years.

The butterfly flutters from flower to flower, until it drifts
beyond our small patch, reminding me that it—along with
so many creatures—are drifting, flying, fluttering, running,
sniffing, burrowing, crawling, prancing towards extinction.

Once a rootless wanderer, Peter D. Goodwin now resides in Maryland, close to the Chesapeake Bay, writes poetry while unwillingly providing succulent treats for deer, rodents, birds and insects.

Back To Back, by Pegi Deitz Shea

Back To Back
by Pegi Deitz Shea

Seventh grade son and I order
at Friendly’s, then he
stands to go wash his hands.
A girl in the booth behind us
whispers to her mother,
“It’s him!”
As he returns, he nods
small-like, and she giggles.

They sit back to back—impenetrable
five inches of wood and vinyl—
between them. Her currant hair,
his skater boy cap can’t meet
beneath the high banquette.

I fetch a fallen napkin to see
that the mother mirrors
my crinkled eyes.
We’ve been there,
though neither wants to
return to that excruciating age,
yet now we revel in

how our children’s eyes wrap
around the side of the booth,
how they scoot to the edge
of their seats so that elbows
can kiss, how, pink-faced,
they dip chins to shoulders,
as they suck through straws
the milk shakes that fail
to cool their heat
of the moment
that will never
taste so sweet
again.

Pegi Deitz Shea teaches in the Creative Writing Programs at the University of Connecticut, the Mark Twain House in Hartford and the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her poetry for adult readers has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Earth’s Daughters and Connecticut River Review. Many of her award-winning books for young readers focus on human rights and social justice issues. Pegi’s website

SALUT, MADAME CEZANNE for Hortense Fiquet, by Pegi Deitz Shea

Salut, Madame Cezanne
      for Hortense Fiquet
by Pegi Deitz Shea

At the Met, I bristle
through an exhibit
and call across the year
you’ve been dead:
Uncle Pierre,
as a young sculptor
in Ecole des Beaux Arts,
what did you make of
the Madame Cezannes?

In 29 portraits Hortense
fully buttoned-up
never smiles,
never smirks,
never seeks
a light with her eyes.
Did she have bad teeth?
Did her back ache
from sitting
still as an apple
for her husband
150 times per portrait?
Is she choleric
having been caché
for 17 years—
Paul too ashamed
of her low status,
afraid to lose
Papa’s allowance.

Pierre, in your hands,
she could not have
contained her mirth
nor you your mischief.
You would have
unbuttoned her,
untied her, undermined
the lines of her closed lips.
Clothed in clay,
your fingers would have
poured across the funnel
of her clavicles
trickled down her cleavage
waded into orchards
of neglected fruit.

Hortense, Pierre,
my muses, salut!
Now, here
in the Grand Hall
of the Met,
a jazz quartet
models the music
you dare to make
dimensions beyond
a brush stroke’s dream!

Pegi Deitz Shea teaches in the Creative Writing Programs at the University of Connecticut, the Mark Twain House in Hartford and the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her poetry for adult readers has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Earth’s Daughters and Connecticut River Review. Many of her award-winning books for young readers focus on human rights and social justice issues. Pegi’s website

Cain’s Sister Speaks, by Pegi Deitz Shea

Cain’s Sister Speaks
by Pegi Deitz Shea

You didn’t think
that a suckling
could comprehend
your violence,
but I was not far
from my own shouldering
into cold air,
from Mother’s shucking
and I was not foreign
to the shaking by a father
awakened from his sleep
by my cries of hunger,
and I have become
too familiar
with how wrestling,
tussling, tickling among
young siblings
can lead to fondling.

But now I know
that you can be fruitful
and multiply
by simply
slaying me
over and over.

You killed Abel only once.

Pegi Deitz Shea teaches in the Creative Writing Programs at the University of Connecticut, the Mark Twain House in Hartford and the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her poetry for adult readers has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Earth’s Daughters and Connecticut River Review. Many of her award-winning books for young readers focus on human rights and social justice issues. Pegi’s website

I Am Your Slave, by Diana Raab

I Am Your Slave
by Diana Raab

I am pulled into your energy
I am yanked into your heart.

I borrow your breaths
as I search for my last one

wondering what I was thinking
when you reached for me

and I said okay before pulling back
into my cocoon which wrapped
protective strings around me.

So many days later, you came back,
pulled those fine strings to unravel

my world watching me spin in circles
to release myself from your grasp.

I am your slave and there’s no other way
of looking at this predicament I am in.

Diana Raab, PhD, is a poet, memoirist and thought-provoker. She’s the author of 8 books and editor of 2 anthologies. Her book, Writing for Bliss, is forthcoming in September 2017. Diana’s website

Just The Flu, by Andrew Hubbard

Just The Flu
by Andrew Hubbard

It sounded like the doctor
Was talking from far away, underwater.
He said, “little kids spike a high fever
He’s strong, just give him lots of fluids
He’ll be right as rain tomorrow.”

So I shook and baked and sweat
And slept and dreamed
I was in a field of tall brown waving grass
And low, lush blueberry bushes
Bent with heavy loads of bursting fruit.

I had the scrubbed-out lard can
Mommy gave me for berries
And I was on my knees picking
And dropping berries into the can
And as they fell each one turned into a pearl
Pure white and gleaming.

The pearls all whispered
And their voices blended
Saying, “you won’t be poor any more,
You’ll never be poor any more.”

“Food—all you want
And a puppy, and the clothes
Mommy’s ashamed to ask for
And medicine for sister.”

I ran home with the lard can
Hugged to my chest and the pearls
Clicking together like marbles.

I gave them all to Mommy
And she held me and cried
And cried. Her tears dropped
On my face, and I began to know
I was not there, I’d left
Without even knowing
For the place
Pearls come from.

Andrew Hubbard was born and raised in a coastal Maine fishing village. He earned degrees in English and Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and Columbia University, respectively. He has had four prose books published, and his fifth and sixth books, collections of poetry, were published in 2014 and 2016 by Interactive Press.

http://ipoz.biz/portfolio-single/the-divining-rod/

The Reviewer, by Frank Prem

The Reviewer
by Frank Prem

why relief
he asked himself

it wasn’t better
sometimes worse
always
always
less

so why the feeling of relief

like a third person
a reviewer
hovering above
he looked back and down
at himself

at how good it had been

he found it hard to say aloud
what was in his head
feeling himself to be in battle
with an irrational conviction
that the sound of the words
would either turn everything
into overblown reality
or prove the lie

every good thing magnified
to an impossible goodness

every negative grown enlarged
until it loomed
insurmountable

he reflected on the way the unspoken
could be ignored
changed if need be
or hugged in a warmth
that hadn’t been aspired to
and could never be uttered aloud
for fear

he considered her

her need to hear him
his thoughts
his feelings
his reassurances

how he had tried
sometimes
to give her what she wanted

the way it made him sweat
shake in discomfort
like a confrontation
with the unformed part of himself

so much angst
for what was
really
so very little
yet far beyond
what he could reach

he looked again
at the incomplete
mental tally

the good things
the deficiencies
his capacity to change
the poor likelihood now
of ever needing to

this relief
thin and watery
is an unsatisfying form
but review is his only way forward
it remains an internal process
ongoing

Process notes: Poem is placed just after a relationship break up. An attempt at critical examination of the protagonists’ deficiencies as reason for the break up.

Frank Prem has been writing poetry as a serious pursuit for in excess of 20 years, and has been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, both in Australia and in a number of countries overseas, occasionally for money or prizes. He has self-published three collections of his work, The Book of Evenings (written as Frank Faust), Memoir of a Dog, and Small Town Kid. Frank lives with his talented singer/songwriter wife Leanne Murphy in the hills above Beechworth in the North-East of Victoria, where they nestle as close to nature as they can. Blogs at https://frankprem.wordpress.com/

Reign Over Me, by Debi Swim

Reign Over Me
by Debi Swim

I’ve a thirst and a hunger,
that scratches my throat
in sandy abrasions and a claw
in my stomach tearing and
whumping at its emptiness.
I want to be filled, sated,
gorged, glutted, quenched,
nourished like a calf at the teat,
like tree roots by the river,
like sails billowing with wind.
Life is just not enough, to live
and to die and to never touch
the supernal, to become nil.
Laugh if you will, sneer at my
simplicity; pity my pining
for God, for the true mythology
of the Holiness.

I’ve a yearning and if you’re alive
you’ve a yearning, too, the soul
within craving to connect with the
soul of the Otherness, the Mysterious.
That’s why we are drawn to the sea,
drawn to the stars, drawn
to things vaster than we.

 
Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 223.

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

Hound’s Tooth Sharp, by Debi Swim

Hound’s Tooth Sharp
by Debi Swim

Remember that jacket you wore?
Black and white hound’s tooth,
wool blend paired with a straight
skirt, hem just at the knee – sleek,
sophisticated. It said I am somebody
look at me, look at me.
I admired you. You were the prettiest
Mom of anyone outside of TV I knew.
But, you always pushed me aside in
your affections. I was the oldest, gawky,
plain – I think I reminded you too
much of a rocky marriage. I was a pawn,
tug of war, with his parents. Unfortunate
for me, even after Daddy died.

The pattern of our relationship
is hound’s tooth sharp.
Seems there is always a bite
behind the smile. I wait for the nip.
It’s made me gun shy, careful,
getting just so close, but no closer.
The irony is that now you want
to love me and me to love you. You want
that relationship my daughters
and I have. I’m sorry we can’t be closer,
but I can’t break through this pattern.
Black and white checks hound me.
I do love you but not wholly.
I love you carefully, reservedly. I stay
safely in the margins of the pattern.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 221.

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