Tim Peeler: “Last Poem Before Zoloft”

 

 

Last Poem Before Zoloft

Is that an ink pen or a bullet?
I can’t tell, you know how long
Are some of those shells.
I see a teenaged boy child
Listening to “Any Major Dude”
Thinking of when to come out.
Outside the rain drums
The triple pane basement window.
Inside a half-crippled black lab
Watches a baseball game.
I ran through what seemed like
An ocean of time to get here
To find myself invisible.
The ages will be the ages
As the rat snake snugs himself
Around the water pipe in the crawlspace.
What do you mean, how will we go on?
We will wear goggles.
We will carry spears.

 

 

About the Author: A past winner of the Jim Harrison Award for contributions to baseball literature, Tim Peeler has also twice been a Casey Award Finalist (baseball book of the year) and a finalist for the SIBA Award. He lives with his wife, Penny in Hickory, North Carolina, where he directs the academic assistance programs at Catawba Valley Community College. He has published close to a thousand poems, stories, essays, and reviews in magazines, journals, and anthologies and has written sixteen books and three chapbooks. He has five books in the permanent collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, NY. His recent books include Rough Beast, an Appalachian verse novel about a southern gangster named Larry Ledbetter, Henry River: An American Ruin, poems about an abandoned mill town and film site for The Hunger Games, and Wild in the Strike Zone: Baseball Poems, his third volume of baseball-related poems.

 

More By Tim Peeler:

Modernist Hay Making

Paramnesia 2

Ballers 2, the Star’s Monologue 3

 

Image Credit: Robert Shymanski: “Attic, crawl space, view east and southeast from north center (part 1 of triptych view) – Hegeler Carus Mansion, 1307 Seventh Street, La Salle, La Salle County, IL”(2008) The Library of Congress

Michael Masarof: “Holy Girl”

 

Holy Girl

She parked other people’s cars
We walked on the Long Island Sound
The boats crushing the shore
She fixed teeth
She was in the mouth all day
Open
Close
Turn
She crushed the clutch
Turned the wheel all the way
Motor off
Shoving that steel pick deep into the gums
I howled
With delight
When we walked the night righteous
The limbs cautious
Air ripe I fell

 

 

About the Author: Michael Masarof is a writer and director born in New York and residing in Los Angeles. Michael received his MFA in Film Directing from New York University’s Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television’s Graduate film program at the Tisch School of The Arts, where he was the recipient of the Jane Rosenthal Scholarship and the Warner Bros. Production Grant. Michael’s short film You Should Have The Body won the first place prize at the International Munich Festival of Film Schools. It also screened as a special presentation at the Berlinale, as well as on Channel 3SAT in Germany. First Love, Michael’s debut feature film that the LA Times called intimate, is currently streaming on Amazon.

 

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Looking out over the marshes in Long Island Sound near Westport, Connecticut” (2011) The Library of Congress

Jay Sizemore: “Fiesta corrida”

 

 

Fiesta corrida
~after Hemingway

Every day it’s the running of the bulls
and every day it’s a fiesta,
alternating sips of absinthe,
brandy, and beer,
tastes of licorice, caramel, and malt,
our bodies just gaseous
place holders for want
for something else,
something beyond these moments.

Let’s go to Paris,
let’s go to Madrid, to every land
in between, where the world
trundles forward
like a train on a track without end
and the people act unaware
of even being onboard,

where the sky opens itself
like the bare back of a bather,
where the mountains and the clouds
rest beyond the horizon
like crumpled butcher’s paper,
and everything just lives
for the sake of living,

never minding the hearts
nor their desires unrequited
their ventricles filled
with cherry-scented smoke,
the mornings will be cold
as the afternoons will be hot,
the beaches bright and reflective
beneath an unforgiving sun,
which only makes the water
more appealing to the flesh.

 

 

About the Author: Jay Sizemore is a poet and author of 15 collections of poetry. He currently works and lives near Portland, Oregon.

 

Image Credit: Joaquim Mir, Terraced Village (1909) Public Domain

Joseph Mills: When the Dance Instructor Says “Follow Your Partner’s Lead”

 

 

When the Dance Instructor Says “Follow Your Partner’s Lead”

Ignore the imperative,
the possessive “your,”
the complicated questions
of trust and simply ask,
how you can both
“follow your partner’s lead.”

Wouldn’t that be
an Escher painting,
a Moebius strip?

I’m following you
following me
following you
following…

and perhaps that’s the point.
Most in relationships
understand the ebb and flow
that occurs, the changing
of places and leads
over the day and days and years.
Of what good is it
to assign positions
to the wave and the water?
Which hand is responsible
for what happens
when hand meets hand?

 

 

About the Author, Joseph Mills: A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, I have published six collections of poetry, most recently “Exit, pursued by a bear” which consists of poems triggered by stage directions in Shakespeare. My book “This Miraculous Turning” was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family. Last year I published my debut work of fiction, “Bleachers: 54 linked fictions” which takes place at a youth soccer game.

 

Image Credit: Russell Lee “Round dance. Pie Town, New Mexico. Among people where square dancing is the usual form of dancing, regular ball room dancing is called “round dancing” (1940) The Library of Congress

Nadia Arioli: “On “I Walk Without Echo” by Kay Sage”

 

(You can view Sage’s painting “I Walk Without Echo” here)

 

 

On “I Walk Without Echo” by Kay Sage

To be a woman is to be caustic
with no power. To instigate

but not to burn. A bellyless earthquake,
a doctor’s bill that goes on and on.

They say we were made second.
Helpmate, companion, never the main

story. A plot point in a chapter
about blood. We go back,

the feminine parts of ourselves,
fetus Matryoshka dolls.

My mother said I looked like one
as a baby. I thought she meant I was

one. I learned in an encyclopedia
I was right. My mother was in utero

with ova. An ovum became half
of me. I’ve still got most my eggs.

To be second but half already there
and while carrying half of the next feels

like a mathematical anomaly,
the kind that would fill a volume.

I sat holding up my dress, bent into three
points: head, knees, one between. Lips

out like shellfish. I want to walk
without echo. I wait on a porcelain ear.

I picture it—perfectly round O’s
of red. Such a bright color in the dark.

I will it: I walk without echo.
Bleed, damn you.

 

 

About the Author: Nadia Arioli (nee Wolnisty) is the founder and editor in chief of Thimble Literary Magazine. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spry, SWWIM, Apogee, Penn Review, McNeese Review, Kissing Dynamite, Bateau, Heavy Feather Review, Whale Road Review, SOFTBLOW, and others. They have chapbooks from Cringe-Worthy Poetry Collective, Dancing Girl Press, and a full-length from Spartan.

 

 

Mj Taylor: “my drunken alibi”

 

my drunken alibi
cd not pass

erased from her life
like chalk

a best friend
a spirit intertwined

gone like
the setting sun

it’s been two years
& the words hang

heavy on my lips
the would-have-been’s

the old man’s regret
like a halo

the snow falls in
nebraska & i cant help

but think of
you in this cold

in mill
valley

 

About the Author: Mj Taylor is a poet living in NE. He has been nominated for the Pushcart prize as well as Best of the Net. He has two chapbooks, “Rattled” (kleft Jaw Press) & Skee-Ball at the Holy Arcade (River Dog). He can be reached at mktaylorjr93@gmail.com

 

Image Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Melting snow. Hayes County, Nebraska” (1940) The Library of Congress

Omobolanle Alashe: “Posterity’s Grave”

 

 

Posterity’s Grave

The early hours of Tuesday morning
saw Providence donning a dark cloak
with stars across the somber fabric
and blood running through its weft
She was majestic in all her gore-ish regalia,
off to till the earth for premature graves
This was neither intended nor planned
then again, nothing ever is
and Providence knew this as she gathered wood for early coffins
and sowed seeds for our chrysanthemums
Her tears would water the soil
that covers our graves in black roses.

Burial shrouds make for subtle foreshadows in times like these.

 

 

About the Author: Omobolanle Alashe is an emerging African writer who sees the power in words and the beauty in their expression (as dark as they may come). She juggles life as an undergraduate law student, poet and language enthusiast. Some of her work may be seen in Clumsy Spider Publishing, Tell! Africa Publishing, As It Ought To Be Magazine, OyeDrum Magazine among others. She has an anthology in the works and hopes to publish it soon.

You may contact her at bolanlealashe@gmail.com and @bo.la.nle_a (Instagram).

 

More by Omobolanle Alashe:

Cherish

 

Image Credit: Still Life by Egon Scheile (1908) Public Domain

Paul Koniecki: “1976”

 

 

1976

the Bicentennial Minute
is playing on the cathode
ray tube in the corner

in the yard around
the house you’ll own
for fifty years

half-full November
is an annual feast
eleven twelfths gone

and i am ten
someone said an old score
i am the skin of broken grapes

in the house alone
to hide or burn it down
your drinking makes me drunk

fire requires an accelerant
hiding is another kind
heart racing faster

holding one’s breath
takes oxygen
away

the harder you try
to be an empty room
each year i blow one more candle

wishing beyond invisibility
to disinvent
myself

 

About the Author: Paul Koniecki lives and writes in Dallas, Texas. He was once chosen for the John Ashbery Home School Residency. He is the Associate Editor of Thimble Literary Journal.

 

More by Paul Koniecki :

today the sky is
a flag that helps everyone

 

Image Credit: Benjamin Franklin Upton “Portrait of a little boy named, Frank” 1851–1856 Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Christopher Carrico: “Skepticism, Fantasy, and the QAnon Shaman”

Embed from Getty Images

Skepticism, Fantasy,

and the QAnon Shaman

By Christopher Carrico

 

 

“It looks like Floki has taken Congress!” my Mom texted me as the horned, painted, spear-wielding “QAnon Shaman” with neo-Norse tatts took the Senate floor.

“Where was the security?!” people asked. Well… they were right there aiding and abetting. The Capitol Police opened the gates and let everyone in.

 

We’ve been social distancing for 10 months, and the radical skepticism which has been eating away at us for years seems to have taken on even more malignant forms. Young earth creationists and climate change deniers helped pave the way for anti-vaxxers, “fake news”, “pizza gate”, “Plandemic”, and Trump claiming that he won the election in a “massive landslide victory”.

I find myself slipping into quarantine solipsism sometimes myself. A neurotic patient, turning away from reality because it seems unbearable. None of the social tools of reality testing readily at hand.

Who will talk back to the fantasy world that both the Viking LARP-er and the American President are living in? The postmodern constructivists who suddenly plant signs in their yards claiming that “Science is Real”?

Oddly, perplexingly, Empiricists have been enablers for Mysticism.

Usually thought to be among the Mystics himself, I have no idea who Yeats was thinking of when he said, over 100 years ago, that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” But I can’t count the times I’ve thought of that quote over the course of the last three decades.

For the left, for decades we’ve seen defeat after defeat, causing us to question everything that we thought we knew. Even ideas of a minimum of social democracy are ruled out of line and targeted for elimination. In just the few months leading up to lockdown, we’d seen a wave of new assaults against Latin America’s Pink Tide, including a coup in Bolivia, and we saw liberals close ranks and portray moderates like Corbyn and Sanders as dangerous radicals.

Meanwhile the far right exploits these moments of skepticism and doubt: adding a dispute with the germ theory of disease to its ones with climate change and evolution. Unafraid to directly assault reality. Each morning our days start with news briefings of neo-fascist surrealism being taken to new heights.

We have no reason whatsoever to think that lukewarm liberals will clap back when and if they are at the helm. “Return to Normal” and “Nothing would fundamentally change” are their slogans. And they will use our Trump and COVID-era fears as pretenses for reinforcing the workings of the National Security State. They will refuse to directly confront the radical right – in the name of “unity and healing” for the “whole nation”. Imagine a scenario in a few years when a leader a lot like Trump emerges, but who is not a completely incompetent ass. Will the strength of American “democratic” institutions protect us then? There is no telling where it will all end.

Continue reading “Christopher Carrico: “Skepticism, Fantasy, and the QAnon Shaman””

Sonya Wohletz: “Piñon Tree”

 

Piñon Tree

In the old schoolyard there is a piñon tree,
Stooped and curled in the palm of a gentle slope,

A shelter where we drew alliance from a shadow.
We prognose her promises in fine-twigged fingers

viscid and clear issuing forth from the strips
Of bark that flays itself in offering to the sun.

A flame incandescent with the need for rain
Cries hoarse in the blue cradle of a desert noon.

I throw pumice stones in ellipse, one by one, then air—
powdered cast-offs patterning an elegant script

Across skins, telling of a heart, the vixen vein, or dog dream.
I didn’t aim for anyone there among the rabbit

Brush, amidst the smell of Easter and all the shells
Of the first story cracking open. A fragile yolk

that cannot be responsible for what I see entrailed.
This, the shrine that carves itself into a waking earth

With its slicing axis of damp and salt. The maternal blood
Swallowing speech into its quiet palace. I wonder how

Sorrow and pain have shaped the throat of grace. The
Blood council warns: “Do not invite anger here,
deceit, nor regrets. do not dissolve the home we are
Making for you here in thought.” I’ve

Lost the thread now of a poem where I stand beside
A boy or a tree and confront all of the deaths

I could not watch, the mother of each that places
Doubt on the cool ground beneath that tree,

Who places the rocks in my hand, who speaks
The word for throw in the language of forgiveness.

 

 

About the Author: Sonya Wohletz is a writer and researcher whose interests include colonial Latin American art, the motions of the planets, bats, the weather. Her work has appeared in Latin American Literary Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Unlimited Literature, and others.

 

Image Credit: William Bell “Piñon tree, Kanab Cañon, Utah” (1872) The Library of Congress