Fay L. Loomis: “Bathtub Prayers”

BAthTub Prayers

By Fay L. Loomis

Mom had to sell eggs on the sly to get the money for tickets the day we took the bus from Coldwater to Battle Creek, Michigan. Dad would never have approved of us traveling. If he had caught wind of our secret trip, he would have said, “Hell, no, you can’t go. Praying is for crazy people. Stay home where you belong.”

When we got off the bus, Mom pointed toward a tower in the distance. “That’s Dr. Kellogg’s famous Battle Creek Sanitarium. The tower, high above soaring trees, seemed to nod in our direction, the flags atop wave at us.

We turned and walked at a fast clip in the opposite direction, until we came to a white mansion with fish scales in the pointed gable. “Mrs. Reynolds lives here,” Mom said. “Her husband is a doctor. He works at the sanitarium.”   

Mom softly tapped on the door, and Mrs. Reynolds said, “Come in Mrs. Miller. Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord brought us together at Reverend Safford’s prayer meeting when I visited my sister in Coldwater?  Let’s have tea in the parlor, and then we’ll pray.”   

Mrs. Reynolds looked over the top of her glasses at me and said, “I’m glad you are traveling with your mother. It’s never too early to learn about the Lord’s work.”  She paused for a moment to let her words sink in, before asking, “How old are you, young lady? Would you like a glass of milk?” Continue reading “Fay L. Loomis: “Bathtub Prayers””

Gale Acuff: “Nobody wants to die but I don’t mind”

Nobody wants to die but I don't mind
 
trying it if I can come back should I
not like it but it can't be all bad says
my Sunday School teacher, after all if
I don't die then I can't go to Heaven
to live forever, which doesn't make sense
but that's why it's religion and of course
I could go to Hell as well and dwell for
-ever there though it's not nearly as nice
as Heaven. Then there's the Resurrection
--Jesus was on His feet again three days
after we nailed Him, I think that's what I'd
like, to live forever that way though on 
Earth is best, I'll take Earth over Heaven,
forget that I'll live less here but longer.  

  

About the Author: Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Image Credit: George Inness Landscape (Evening Landscape) (1889) Public Domain image courtesy of Artvee

Diana Rosen: “Traveling on Our Stomachs”

Traveling on Our Stomachs

Leaving the excess of old-world Utrecht, 
all gargoyles, staggeringly high churches 
with their proverbial lesson in perspective, 
arched doorways folding into arched hallways 
like bellows on a monochromatic accordion, 
I enter the gray-gray of its New Town: Massive, 
hard-edged concrete slabs of cold contemporary 
Dutch architecture dedicated to function over form, 
utility over any hint of Rococo. I’m drawn to an 
Edward Hopper-lit café, empty save the silent 
server who presents a slab of creamy yellow cheese, 
flaky golden-dusted brioche its tenderness cradling 
the bright orange yolk of the freshest egg, satiny hot 
coffee in a white-white cup, the perfect American 
travel memory on a gray-gray day in Utrecht.

About the Author: Diana Rosen is a poet, flash writer, and essayist with work in online and print journals in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, and India. Her first book of flash and poetry, “High Stakes & Expectations,” was released in spring 2022 from thetinypublisher.com Diana lives in Los Angeles where she writes website content on food and beverage. To read more of her work, please visit www.authory.com/dianarosen

Image Credit: Édouard Manet “The Brioche” (1870) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

John Grey: “DADDY, WE’RE ENGAGED”

DADDY, WE’RE ENGAGED

His expression is like a crab
moving sideways and backwards
and forwards at will.
The eyes, the nose,
the mouth, are as restless as small dogs.
They can’t settle on a frown.
And a smile is seemingly beyond them.
We stand before him,
our fingers clutching and unclutching,
together elsewhere, 
but insecurely tethered here.
We came to tell him
but it feels as if we’re asking his permission.
I know my own mind.
You know yours.
But that’s still one mind short.

About the Author: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

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Image Credit: Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse: Berlin ;Bei Gottlieb August Lange,1782-1804. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

5 Erasure Poems By John Dorsey

Author’s Note: These poems, along with several hundred others, are part of a larger erasure collection entitled Pocatello Wildflower, which examines the words of a group of Idaho writers who worked primarily from the 1970’s to the 1990’s, including the late Bruce Embree, who really got the ball rolling in my head and heart, with a few still working today. It is my great hope that folks will be interested in the original writers work, in addition to my own. Pocatello Wildflower will be available in 2023 from Crisis Chronicles Press. Thanks for reading.

My Parents

strangers raised us
in ditchbank weeds
on combat rations

it was love
& bruises
no pity
in the blowing dust.



Moving Past the Fetish

last year’s growing storm
a lost friend

famous people
not humping boulders 
like me
in the foolish
september moon.



The River of Lovers

could burn enough nostalgia
to find comfort
in our past

a whirl of wind.



Rosie Died

goats
river rock

his father never blinked
feet first

alley shadows
lilacs

a bad dream
catches in his throat.



Pocatello Tattoo

i lost my horse

my body
a boxcar
of coaldust

pocatello
pocatello
pocatello

this country of shame
died in the trees

rolled west
in shoshone
in boise

in pocatello
pocatello
pocatello

april whiskey
on the spot

where the sun goes down
like a red-hot needle.

About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2021) and Sundown at the Redneck Carnival, (Spartan Press, 2022).. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Cholla Bone” (2021)

Agnes Vojta: “After surgery”

After surgery 

he surfaces drowsy 
from anesthesia
sees his wife 
by his bedside
reaches out 
his hand feels 
her shoulder blade
relieved he sighs
“No wings! 
I am alive!”

About the Author: Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T and hikes the Ozarks. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019) and The Eden of Perhaps (Spartan Press, 2020), and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines.

Image Credit: Karl Wiener “Komposition aus ‘Pflaster und Wiese’ X (1924) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Hannah Bagley: “Stay A Spell”

Stay a Spell

The cicadas kissed the curves of my ears,
pale fingers fighting nothing but air and the thinness of wings.
Chop, shift, I split the wood again
chop, shift, the butterscotch chips catching in the frays
of an old knitted coat.

Skillet fried dinner blends to skillet fried dessert—
What was that?
A rustle of leaves yields sunny-sides filled with shell
and the squirrel chuckles up his chestnuts.
He picks his shells with ease.

The warm fire deepens the orange of my hair
and blushes the apples of my cheeks.
Oxygen and black smoke trickle through my lungs—
carbon dioxide bleaching the fumes clear.
We need more tinder.

My eyes meet a doe dancing behind the flame.
Thin ankles locked straight to the left and chin whiskers 
quirked to the right; she stood firm.
Who was I to stay a spell in her living room?
I didn’t even take off my shoes.

About the Author: Hannah Bagley lives and attends the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia. An English literature major and German minor, she has also been published in The Chestatee Review. Hannah draws inspiration from her upbringing in Southern Appalachia and its rich history. She plans to continue poetry in the pursuit of nature, life, and expression of the human experience. 

Image Credit: Winslow Homer “Campfire” (1880) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Samuel Prestridge: “New Highway Promises Development for Local Communities”

“New Highway Promises Development for Local Communities”
                                     The Starkville Daily News
 
The new highway skirts struggling towns obscured 
by second-growth—black jack saplings, pin oak, 
scrub pine decked with hand-struck signs for still-born 
cafes, yard sales, deer skinners, promises 
of God’s wrath, purchases non-refundable.
 
I wonder who could live in these small towns. 
I tell the trees, Not me.  I still look, though,  
still try to see how, within their limits, 
mysteries keep them seething.  Having failed 
with farming, having wheeled to fail at retail, 
 
their faith’s in resurrection.  New highways.  
In buyers who’ll slab jack foundations, 
true frames, gingerbread all the worn storefronts.  
Paint the whole into a groggy, pastel wet dream 
with awnings, stratocumulus, lighting subdued
 
to shade by day, illuminate by night.  
The latest iterations in gutter 
technology, sewers gussied up.  
Rains falling like money will hurry away, 
down to the channelized river. Its banks 
 
will blossom with summer homes.  Angelic 
water skiers’ wash will lap the cut bank, 
will rinse mulish roots, will swamp the hand-struck 
signs I’d have placed there:  “No trespassing.”  
“Free rooster.”  “Chickens, fresh brown eggs for sale.” 


About the Author: Samuel Prestridge, a post-aspirational man, lives and works in Athens, Georgia. He sometimes plays acoustic blues and jazz in local bars under an assumed name. He has been published in Literary ImaginationThe Arkansas ReviewSouthern Humanities ReviewAs It Ought to Be, Better Than Starbucks, Autumn Skies, among others.

Image Credit: Marion Post Walcott “Signs advertising liquor stores are seen frequently along all Kentucky highways. South of Bardstown” (1940) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Meg Pokrass: “Housesitter”

Housesitter

When I talk about this housesitting gig, which I don’t often, people smile and stare at their shoelaces. They wrap things up, label me “once spunky, now sad”. His cats are throwing up everywhere. It is raining. The problem is that I am standing in his kitchen; in an apartment on a sinister street on a landfill-ridden plot covered in drab apartment complexes. The town is called Baggageport. Not worse than Intercourse, Pennsylvania or Hell, Michigan. Sighing and smoking and huddling there next to the cats… peeking out at the neat world.

About the Author: Meg Pokrass is the author of 8 collections of flash fiction.

Image Credit: Harris & Ewing “Cats” (1923) Public domain photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

John Grochalski: “collection days”

collection days

it seems as archaic
as kids carrying newspapers now

but they used to give us
a thick ring full of cardboard paper
cut into perforated tabs

they acted as receipts 
when people paid you for their papers

once a week
in summer or after school

i had to walk my paper route
with the ring of cardboard tabs
knocking on people’s doors
to get the post-gazette’s money

in winter
i saw the dark on both ends of the day

i was the great interrupter of dinners
sexy time after long days at work
of infants falling asleep after hours of struggle

the great ruiner of
children’s birthdays and underage parties

i stood at closed doors
listening to hushed voices 
hoping that i’d just go away

while the same dogs that barked at me in the morning
got a second chance to go at me in the evening

the people who condescended 
to open their doors
looked at me as if they didn’t understand

like their newspaper just arrived 
by some voodoo or magic

and not by some fat kid
trudging along in the rain or snow
or the humid damp of summer heat

i delivered to rich people with big houses
but no one ever had the money to pay me

next week, they’d say
and i’d walk away from their homes
my labor given away free for another week

left to explain to my angry dispatcher
why i didn’t have his cash some saturday

promising him
i’d have his money come next monday

like i was some errant tenant
or a goddamned junky begging to a dealer

a feeble man with empty pockets
and a huge-ass gambling debt

who’d let his life fall off the rails
yet again.

About the Author: John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In the Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), and Eating a Cheeseburger During End Times (Kung Fu Treachery, 2021). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016), and P-Town: Forever (Alien Buddha Press, 2021). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can read his baseball card ramblings at his Junk Wax Jay blog https://junkwaxjay.blogspot.com/

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Image Credit: Harris& Ewing “Newspapers Coming Off Press” (1936) Public domain photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress