Count Down, by Debi Swim

Count Down
by Debi Swim

Grandpa got it at the green stamp store.
He built a small shelf on the wall
in the living room and placed upon it
the black and faux gold clock. I would
watch the pendulum swing back and forth
unaware of time ticking away, unaware
that this moment wouldn’t last,
nor Grandpa, nor my youth.

A clock sits on the bookshelf
in my reading room.
I listen to its steady beat,
faint, droning under the din of life.
Its rhythm keeps me grounded
with its steady tic-tic- tic
setting the pace, reminding me
with every second-hand lurch
I live one second at a time,
until the last …
tic-tic toc.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 320.

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

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Language Of Lies, by Roslyn Ross

Language Of Lies
by Roslyn Ross

It was the first lie which led the way,
like an orange beacon on the hill of
deceit, beginning that march into evil,
which left love hanging on the broken

gate of betrayal, where more lies stood
as statues, carved in sad facts of denial,
and right, kneeled, whimpering in the
skirts of yesterday; adultery’s hood had

defined my truth, hidden your face in such
blackness, that no amount of torches could
ever bring enough light to bear upon what
now was an impossible, searing, darkness.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 321.

Roslyn Ross is a former journalist, who has worked in newspapers and magazines around Australia. In recent years she has worked as a freelance manuscript editor. Born in Adelaide, she has spent much of her time living overseas, including Antwerp, Belgium; Bombay, India; Luanda, Angola; Cape Town, South Africa; Johannesburg, South Africa; Lusaka, Zambia; Vancouver, Canada; London, United Kingdom and Lilongwe, Malawi. She has also spent extended periods in Russia, Portugal and the United States, as well as living across Australia, including Adelaide, Port Pirie, Wagga Wagga, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, and is now settled in the Adelaide Hills. She began writing poetry at the age of twelve and has had work published in a number of anthologies, mainly in the US, but also more recently, in When Anzac Day Comes Around, 100 Years from Gallipoli Poetry Project, edited by Graeme Lindsay.

Computer Chess, by Jared Pearce

Computer Chess
by Jared Pearce

I keep clicking undo
to trace my losing
streak, to find out

All my mistakes.
If I go another way,
if I had allowed my brother

To tag along more often,
or if I had not lied to my friends
to protect my embarrassment,

Or if I had been more subtle
or more striking, would the children
be happy then? And with her,

What could I have done
better to love? I’m not sure
I can find my way past those bishops

Of self-deceit or the surprising leap
from revelatory knights
to hold that Queen

So she’ll see me and want me.
I’m always back at the game’s beginning,
fretting over the pawns of diet

And so many hours slept, holding
dear to my rooks for the endgame—
the end that comes no matter

How far back I go or how
much I can erase of where
I started or how I got here.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Cutting, by Jared Pearce

Cutting
by Jared Pearce

One would have her leg
hacked off, another an arm—
such appendages seem easy
to divide. But others went
for fashion: buttocks
and trim the thighs, or my head
must be ten percent my body
mass. And some for bits to cheat
loss by removing every other toe,
one ear, the incisors, hair.

Until she said her
too big breasts, worthless
lobes, too in-the-way,
too defining, the two great balls
chaining me to womanhood,
making me a sex—these stones
strapping me in a drowning
when what I want is to be held
with a light grace, apart
from what I am or am not.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Portals, by Jared Pearce

Portals
by Jared Pearce

The contractor came to see about
where I wanted a hole punched
in the back brick wall to make
a closet and keep the pantry.

We measured, we bartered,
we shook hands, until on the front path
he told me both his parents died
within a month of each other:

He hadn’t shed a tear, he said,
though his pastor encouraged his grief;
He’s been having trouble getting back
to work, he said, he can’t handle

The somewhere revving saw
to cut into a lighted room from
a darkened passage, a blueprint
showing where the load and stress

Should be anchored to rest.
There’s no point in crying,
he said; now that they’re gone,
what tears could cut like diamonds?

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Skeleton, by Jared Pearce

Skeleton
by Jared Pearce

How could it have happened,
toad, you dead and left a perfect
skeleton on the campus walk?

How could the hungry birds
or hustling student feed have passed
your crunchy morsel, mistaken

For a scrunched cupcake wrapper?
And how could I have found you,
complete, except your eyes,

The skinny leather of your hide
tanning itself on your brittle frame,
a frame perfect inside its sack

sucked dry, a series of sticks that shift
our gears upon the planet, a bundle
like a lodge, a lever that lets us roll the Earth.

That’s all the machinery we’ve got:
what good is a scrambled-egg brain
or spider-nest nerves against

The arm’s hatchet or quarterstaff
swung of the hip. You were right,
toad, we’re built for valor

And making grace before
our long rest where we hand it back
in its dustcloth, worn and happy.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Endangered, by Jared Pearce

Endangered
by Jared Pearce

Tiny frog, remnant
of your dying race,
enjoy this garden,
this cricket feast,
where those weeds
that began their war
last year have invaded
most areas, holding
no prisoners, never
counting their populace
or hassling with birth
control or stopping
the kids from eating
too much.
       Frog, learn
from these weeds:
we can all thrive
if we’ve got someone
to care for and
someone to kill.

Process: I look at something, it looks at me, and as I wonder about it, a poem shows up.

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Marathon, Peacock, Poetic Diversity, DIAGRAM, and Red Fez. His first collection is forthcoming from Aubade Press next year. He lives in Iowa.

Predecessor, by Laurinda Lind

Predecessor
by Laurinda Lind

There is so much I don’t know
about my father’s first marriage,
how they met, what she was like,

though last year I saw their wedding
photo. I’d been shielded as if this
would somehow shame me. My
whole family shone out around

them, all my aunts and uncles
who were hers first, and she held
onto my father’s hand in the center
of them with both of hers, her sailor
she anchored to her out from a war

that couldn’t have him anymore
and now her life could start,
the next eight years before she
learned she was someone else

and before she let me know
him next. At least the half
I have had after her.

Process notes: People rarely talked about my father’s first wife, whom I never met while she was alive; now that both are gone, trying to get to know her is like getting another piece of him back, and poetry opens the door for that.

Laurinda Lind is waiting out the weather in New York’s North Country. She is not any good at alcohol. Some poetry acceptances/publications were in Anima, Comstock Review, The Cortland Review, Liminality, Main Street Rag, Metaphor, Paterson Literary Review, and Timeless Tales.

Snapshot, by Laurinda Lind

Snapshot
by Laurinda Lind

A neighbor boy came over every night
so we could throw grass at each other
on the cement steps that led to the road
& after a few weeks we went out into
boats on the lake while he told me I
was pretty when I wasn’t & I told him
he wasn’t fat but he was. Once he lost
one hundred thirty pounds, the whole
weight of the woman he later married
& he looked so good I was glad we’d
had those twenty years as friends

without lust to screw it up. The spring
before his heart sprung him, when he
was in & out of the bariatric ward &
able to get there only in the bed of
their truck, he saw me take my camera
out & looked into it with such informed
intelligence after our long skeins of
shared secrets that I think he knew
it was what he would leave me with.
& that nothing else would ever ease
the weight of him off my world.

Process notes: It has been such a shock to lose a friend I was close with since the beginning of our teen years that it was inevitable he would come storming into a poem like the force of nature he was, and try to get me to figure out how I am going to go the rest of the way without him.

Laurinda Lind is waiting out the weather in New York’s North Country. She is not any good at alcohol. Some poetry acceptances/publications were in Anima, Comstock Review, The Cortland Review, Liminality, Main Street Rag, Metaphor, Paterson Literary Review, and Timeless Tales.

Med Flight, by Candelin Wahl

Med Flight
       Madison, Wisconsin
by Candelin Wahl

Badger-red metal dragonfly
zeroes into sight
tail up in descent
big white 2 painted on its belly
eggbeater wings tread thin air
vast hospital roof a shimmering
pond below the hover bug.
It’s not for me to see from this angle
what trauma they treat
blocked heartery
or crash victim
please no overdose.
A New Englander passing through
I whisper a Samaritan’s prayer
into the arms of white lilacs.
They crowd the sidewalk
in gaudy dress like southern girls
whose only worry is Friday night,
which leaves me – one woman speck
to inhale the breath of life
respire
repeat

Candelin Wahl is an emerging poet who recently shed her business attire. She is Poetry Co-Editor of the Mud Season Review and has been published in the 2017 Best of the Burlington Writer’s Workshop. She lives with her husband in St. Albans, Vermont.