“When Cancer Comes to Evansville Indiana” By Jason Baldinger

 

 

When Cancer Comes to Evansville Indiana

she says they stayed 
in casinos every night
they ate like kings
steaks, all you can eat crab legs
the best pork chops she ever had

she shovels mashed potatoes
with white gravy in her mouth
asks when the waitress’s surgery is
they speak in hushed tones
the conversation breaks down
into promises of future prayers

when cancer comes to Evansville Indiana
mortality is another strong wind
lost in the yellow flowers
that stain the fields here every May

mortality is just another wave on the Ohio

 

About the Author: Jason Baldinger is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He was recently a Writer in Residence at Osage Arts Community, and is founder and co-director of The Bridge Series. He has multiple books available including the soon to be released The Better Angels of our Nature (Kung Fu Treachery) and the split books The Ugly Side of the Lake with John Dorsey (Night Ballet Press) as well as Little Fires Hiding with James Benger (Kung Fu Treachery Press). His work has been published widely in print journals and online. You can listen to him read his work on Bandcamp on lps by the bands Theremonster and The Gotobeds.

 

Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Truck driver in diner. Clinton, Indiana” (1940) The Library of Congress

“Homework on Uranus” By Nathan Graziano

 

Homework on Uranus

I am washing the dinner dishes while my son,
shoulders slumped at the kitchen table, groans

about his science homework while my wife
waits with the patience of a beach stone

beside him, tapping a pen and pointing 
at his assignment. “Concentrate,” she says.

My son moans like a beaten dog then starts 
reading his assignment and begins laughing.

“Dad, this article says that Uranus is a ‘gas giant.’”
He buckles over, grabbing his gut, hysterical. 

My wife glares at me, a laser beam of derision,
hoping against hope that I’d be the father-figure,

explaining to my twelve-year old son that Uranus jokes
are sophomoric, that he needs to concentrate

on his school work and not succumb bathroom humor
or fatuous planet puns and concentrate, son. 

Concentrate. Instead, I drop the pot I’m drying 
and haw, a hearty guffaw. “Uranus is a gas giant!” I say.

My son blows a raspberry on his forearm, tears
streaming down his cheeks, and my wife stands up.

“I’m done. You help him with this,” she says to me
and leaves the kitchen, leaving my son and me, both

in middle school, giving wedgies in the locker room,
pulling fingers in class, laughing in the face of maturity.  

 

About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014), Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.

 

More By Nathan Graziano:

Explaining Depression To My Cousin

Punchline

 

Image Credit: Photo of Uranus from NASA. Public Domain

“One For Cory” By Damian Rucci

 

 

One For Cory

I heard your brother
is down in the boonies
living in chicken shacks

hooked on the same shit
that took the air from your lungs

and left another son
without a father

will it ever end?

will the damned
be forsaken?
will you call me
again at 3 am looking to score?

The other night at McDonough’s Pub
I saw the old crew
we talked about you
and we never talked about you
when you died
we just let it haunt us

the boys are looking for more
to green grasses in other places
that don’t stink of poverty and death

the garden state
has more poppies than orchids
all the roses I’ve known
have bled and broken
trying to make it out
of the concrete

sometimes I smile
hoping that somewhere in celestial solace
you are on a stage that isn’t in drug court
that you’re singing and free again

that you finally learned the guitar

Cory I pray that somewhere
you are eighteen forever
that, that beautiful smile
never leaves your face

and you never know pain again

 

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About the Author: Damian Rucci’s work has recently appeared in Cultural Weekly, Beatdom, Big Hammer, and coffee shops and basements across the country. He is an author of three chapbooks and a split Former Lives of Saints with Ezhno Martin. Damian hosted the Poetry in the Port reading series, currently hosts the Belle Ringer Open Mic and is a poet in residence at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. He can be reached at damian.rucci@gmail.com

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More by Damian Rucci: 

Melancholy & The Afterglow

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Image Credit: Thomas J Flagg “VIEW NORTHEAST- DETAIL OF BRIDGE TRUSSES, NEW TRACK SHOWN ADJACENT TO BRIDGE”  (1995) The Library of Congress

“Sunday Mourning” By Mike Acker

 

 

Sunday Mourning

Real butter for a change, melts on my toast
with apricot jam thickly spread like I like it.

Cold, caloried cream swirls in freshly brewed coffee
with a teaspoon of real sugar.

Habits die hard; having just cooked an omelette
for two now only one will eat.

Glasses slide low on the bridge of my nose;
Sunday paper ready to go.

The pool’s blue tiles glisten under
the early sunshine.

What a glorious morning
this could have been.

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About the Author:Mike Acker lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has lived in various parts of the world; his early education was in German and French. While living in California, he worked as a professional translator. Mike enjoys writing short poetry, especially with the intent of exploring the possibilities latent in a single image.

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More By Mike Acker:
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Image Credit: Esther Bubley “Washington, D.C. Hugh Massman, second class petty officer who is studying in Washington, must leave the house very early, so Lynn has breakfast alone while Joey sleeps on the table” (1943) The Library of Congress.
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“Stravinsky in the Shower” By Jonathan K. Rice

 

 

Stravinsky in the Shower
            after The Rite of Spring

I lather my hair
as an old woman 
prophesies
upon the equinox 
of spring. 

Hot water 
pours over me, 
while young 
women dance.

Soap foam
rinses from 
my beard 
and body
down the shower
drain.
Rival tribes divide 
and proceed. 

I turn off the water,
grab a towel.
An elder kisses
the earth.

Pagans dance
as I dry myself.
The sacrifice begins.
My clothes 
are on the bed.

Mystery unfolds
in games and circles.
I dress as a dancer 
is chosen 
and glorified,

entrusted to elders,
dances to death
before I can
put on my shoes.

 

About the Author: Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is also a visual artist. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications, including Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Diaphanous, Empty Mirror, Gargoyle, Inflectionist Review, Levure Litteraire, The Main Street Rag, Wild Goose Poetry Review and the anthologies, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina.

 

More by Jonathan K. Rice

“Springmaid Pier”

“Cards”

“The Delusion of Glass” By Anna Saunders

 

 

The Delusion of Glass

They write of the King who thought he was glass 
but what of the glass who thought it was king? 

We know of Charles V – gone insane
after weeks of combat in the forest, 
felling friends and allies like trees with a wild swing
of axe – afterwards running down the marbled corridors 
screaming then sitting silently, 
without moving, so he won’t shatter.

And other cases, people with 
The Glass Delusion – imagining themselves to be 
translucent forms, 
susceptible to breaking.

Like a piece of glass who imagines itself to be king
or queen.

At first imagine how beautiful –
your translucent glaze refracting light
and all your tempests sealed like storms
in a paperweight, and feeling the rain roll off you 
as if you were rock. 

Yet feeling fragile enough to split into 
at the lightest touch,  
wrapping yourself in blankets so you won’t smash
forbidding anyone to touch you or you will break to shards.

And being so glossy skinned
that a kiss leaves no sensation 
just a mouth mark,  a cloudy cherub bow
like a wax stamp on a sealed letter, that no one 
can ever open or read. 

 

About the Author: Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018). Anna has had poems published in journals and anthologies, which include Ambit, The North, New Walk Magazine, Amaryllis, Iota, Caduceus, Envoi, The Wenlock Anthology, Eyeflash, and The Museum of Light. Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.

 

Image Credit: “Roman glass. Copies of valuable Roman glass” from The Library of Congress

“The Oysters” By Brian Chander Wiora

 

 

The Oysters

The better oysters on this plate are smoked, 
then dried, the abundant bivalves brought
from dugout canoes. We sit by the only window
lessened by blue curtains, never loosened. 

The shadow of the cubicle, you say, 
was too always for you, as if the sun
pushed itself away. On your long walks home, 
you would step through people’s breaths

just to feel the heat. An occasional candle
decorates each table. A small vase contains
a smaller flower, its yellow wilting. 
If only the oysters could shell you inside,

shield you from horse drawn ice plow, 
Hudson Iron, anthracite coal. 
Watch hemlock brick tan into leather, 
quite accidentally, just as it happens. 

This restaurant is crowded, therefore endless. 
Each table is its own bottomless moment.
We speak as though the long ago 
occurred yesterday, as if it became

pregnant with every imagined memory
of us. In May, when the mollusks harvest, 
when we would have cut our own hair 
and revel in its distance. The waves roll over

soil erosion, raw sewage, the resistance
of living from being alive. 
“The ravages of the axe are daily increasing”
said Thomas Cole, but he forgot about how

we open each oyster with our tiny utensils, 
bringing forth a single bite. Hunger is so vigilant. 
Find a bowl that’s not filled up, 
as in this room of which a later room

might be formed, as in a catch of oysters
lost in their own banks, bartered
for trade, their shells carved for knives. 
If we look quickly, they will be moving.

 

About the Author: Brian Chander Wiora teaches poetry at Columbia University, where he is an MFA candidate. His poems have appeared in RattleGulf Stream MagazineThe New Mexico ReviewAlexandria Quarterly and other places. Besides poetry, he enjoys listening to classic rock music and performing stand up comedy.

 

Image Credit: Édouard Manet “Oysters” (1862)