Jonel Abellanosa: “Anilius”

 

 

Anilius

And if some people and nonpeople
call us false coral snake? Nothing
untrue with the bright red and black
bands segmenting our bodies in your
fossorial wonder, ways you follow
imagination’s slither into quiet joy.

Evolution has left us the vestigial
pelvic girdle, which makes me picture
human swaying hips – to and fro
geometry to hunger’s kiss, zig and zag
into beetle delicacies, fish and frogs
of lunar gourmandizing.

We bear the oldest ancestral traces,
skulled, like lizards, with God’s
original blueprint for our biology,
most resembling our kin that bit heels
of dinosaurs – finding the broken
fangs way it isn’t edible.

 

 

About the Author: Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, The Philippines. His poetry and fiction are forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review, Chiron Review and Eunoia Review; and appeared in hundreds of magazines, including As It Ought to Be, The Lyric, Thin Air, Rigorous, Loch Raven Review and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include, “Songs from My Mind’s Tree” and “Multiverse” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York), “50 Acrostic Poems,” (Cyberwit, India), “In the Donald’s Time” (Poetic Justice Books and Art, Florida), and his speculative poetry collection, “Pan’s Saxophone” (Weasel Press, Texas). His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Dwarf Stars and Best of the Net Awards.

 

More by Jonel Abellanosa:

Jaguar

 

Image Credit: Image from: The naturalists’ miscellany: London: Printed for Nodder co,1789. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

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.

R.T. Castleberry: “Stopping to Leave”

 

 

 

Stopping to Leave

Dire drift, the afternoon lurks—
flood forecast, prayers rising
from upraised hands, open text.
Rain passes over,
seedlings, oak and elm stirred
by South Coast wind.
Cell phone walkers stretch a crosswalk light.
Food trucks pack for dinner destination.
Pocket park slowly closes—
cigarettes smoked, office lunches done.
Coming off the bridge,
an Audi slips left lane to right,
driver dreaming at the wheel.
Yellow vest workmen scuff
to Ram and Silverado,
helmets and coolers thumping at hips.
Parking lots empty to open arid space,
to painted white lines and chain link.
Captured bags flutter like half-mast flags.
Metal doors and lights lowered,
we are locking down to leave.

 

 

About the Author: R.T. Castleberry is a widely published poet and critic. His work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Trajectory, Blue Collar Review, White Wall Review, The Alembic and Visitant. Internationally, Castleberry’s work has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. Mr. Castleberry’s work has been featured in the anthologies, Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and You Can Hear the Ocean: An Anthology of Classic and Current Poetry.

 

More By R.T. Castleberry:

Down Cold Lanes

July, Roadhouse Dinner

 

Image Credit: “Detail of east side of overpass, showing spandrel beam, piers, roadway and guardrails. View to southwest. – 86th Street Overpass, Spanning Interstate 35 & 80 at Northwest Eighty-sixth Street, Urbandale, Polk County, IA ” The Library of Congress

Tim Heerdink: ’70 Chevelle

 

 

’70 Chevelle

A dream I once held in the past passed away today
with the final sell of my father’s ’70 Chevelle.

See, the dusty shell was not just an old car
but a hope to rebuild and journey through memory.

My parents went on their honeymoon to French Lick
with bold black stripes across the stark red hood.

I recently came across a photograph of these moments
snapped thirty-six years ago as of last month
in my search for my mother’s youth
as she slowly slips with the cancer in her head.

February of ’84 saw several feet of snow
mixed with influenza that failed to ruin romance.

Perhaps I’ve never seen the kind of money in cash
it takes to purchase a dream like the hotrod I never got
the chance to take a ride in on a warm sunny day,
but there still is family and a little time for us to spend.

 

 

About the Author: Tim Heerdink is the author of The Human Remains, Red Flag and Other Poems, Razed Monuments, and short stories, The Tithing of Man and HEA-VEN2. His poems appear in Poetry Quarterly, Fish Hook, Flying Island, Auroras and Blossoms, Kissing Dynamite, Tanka Journal, and various anthologies. He is President of Midwest Writers Guild of Evansville, Indiana.

 

Image Credit: John Margolies “Uniroyal Tire, I-94, Dearborn, Michigan” (1986) The Library of Congress

Tim Peeler: “Drive-in 21”

 

 

Drive-in 21

Through the pounding thunderstorm,
They endured blue lightning flashes,
Great drops of steaming rain,
And on the screen, the first of
A double feature, Invasion
Of the Blood Farmers,
A film shot so poorly
That day and night shots
Were jumbled together;
So cheap, the actors were paid
With six packs of beer
To play blood-seeking druids
On a mission to save their queen.
They gritted their teeth
As their wipers slashed,
The speaker crackled, and
The parking lot emptied
Of all but the stoners
And the crazies awaiting
The second feature,
Shriek of the Mutilated,
Wherein grad students
Undertake a field trip
To Boot Island in search of Yeti,
And the hardcores were rewarded
When the summer skies cleared
And fell silent as the hairy
Beast began his carnage.

 

 

 

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: John Margolies “Augusta Drive-in Theater, Route 11, Augusta, Maine” (1984) The Library of Congress

Nathanael Stolte: “New, but Borrowed”

 

 

New, but Borrowed

Though I’m in a new, but borrowed, bed
in a strange land
you’ve never been to
I still sleep on only half
the old habitual repetition

I know you’re not coming

and I’m certainly not
saving it for you
or anyone

not saving it at all
not holding intimate space
for anyone in this dating economy

I leave books of poems
and novels there
that I read before dreaming

all the companionship I require

I don’t fix the covers in the morning
never cared much for that

I dream I’m covered in ticks
and they’re hungry
growing fat
and round
and gray and smooth as old river stones
it doesn’t itch
but I can’t scream
because my teeth are old river stones
round
gray and
smooth
as fattened ticks
and my mouth is full of butterflies
and secrets
too subtle to recall
when the sun rises
like bubblegum over
the far pasture
out the spotted plate glass
picture window
creeping at first
then all at once

I’m not covered in parasites
and my teeth are just fillings

 

 

About the Author: Nathanael Stolte is an artist and poet from Buffalo, NY. His poems have turned up all over the place. He is the author of several chapbooks and Shoot the Alligators Closest to the Boat (Stubborn Mule, 2019) & Beggar’s Songbook (Spartan Press, 2020). He was an artist in residence at Osage Arts Community in Belle, MO this year where he was making visual art until his plans were interrupted by a mild heart attack. Now he’s staring down the barrel of 40 and living in his mother’s basement.

 

Image Credit: Russell Lee “Piercing a mattress in tufting. Mattress factory. San Angelo, Texas” (1939) The Library of Congress

Chase Dimock: “Imitation Unicorns”

 

 

 

Imitation Unicorns
– For Nellie

When I first held you
I watched Unicorns prance
in soft fleecy pink across
your onesie as your dreaming
breathing belly rose in and out
lifting them off into the infinite
pastel possibilities of infancy.

I wondered when you’ll start
sorting your fairy tale menagerie
into fact and fiction, when Z
will still be for Zebra, but U
will have to settle for Urchin
or the Unspotted Saw-whet Owl
the Unlined Giant Chafer Beetle
the Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant
or any number of animals
defined by what they lack.

Will you still marvel at
the Unadorned Rock Wallaby
despite his lack of adornment?

Will you still respect
the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback
despite her vulnerability?

Will you accept substitutes?

The fencing Narwhal
swashbuckling the Baltic
more weaponized than majestic

The Hornbill who flies like pegasus
but shrieks, fighting for figs in the trees

When Marco Polo first laid eyes
on a Rhinoceros in the land of Basma
he wrote, Unicorns are
           altogether different from what we fancied.

He bemoaned, Unicorns are
……..not in the least like that which our stories tell of.
           They delight much to abide in mire and mud.
           Tis a passing ugly beast to look upon.
I hope you never use myth as your measure.

When you gaze at the Unicorn trotting through
the frosted cupcake mountains on your Lisa Frank
Trapper Keeper, know that fantasy is a projection
of our inner colors, on a world both grey, and yet
so brilliant, we can’t see all the light in the spectrum.

And most of all, humor your uncle
when he pulls a mule to your birthday party,
straps a rainbow painted corn cob to its head.
When you ride old Wilbur into a sunset that stops
at the fence in your backyard, know he did the best
Unicorn impersonation his old bones could carry.

 

Imitation Unicorns appears in Sentinel Species, now available from Stubborn Mule Press on most online bookstores.

 

 

About the Author: Chase Dimock lives among mountain lions and coyotes in an undisclosed location between Laurel Canyon and the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. He serves as the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be Magazine and makes his living teaching literature and writing at College of the Canyons. His poetry has been published in Waccamaw, Hot Metal Bridge, Faultline, Roanoke Review, New Mexico Review, and Flyway among others. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and his scholarship in World Literature and LGBT Studies has appeared in College Literature, Western American Literature, Modern American Poetry, The Lambda Literary Review, and several edited anthologies. For more, visit chasedimock.com

 

Image Credit: from “Historiae naturalis de quadrupedibus libri” (1657) Image Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Z.D. Dicks “Altered State”

 

 

 

Screenshot 2020-08-04 at 11.26.11 PM

 

 

 

About the Author: Z. D. Dicks is the author of Malcontent (Black Eye Publishing) described as ‘Uncompromising, sometimes controversial, but always entertaining’ by Clive Oseman and ‘Evocative, atmospheric, breathing new life into the everyday’ by Nicola Harrison. Z. Dicks is the CEO of Gloucestershire Poetry Society and Gloucester Poetry Festival. His work has been accepted by Ink, Sweat and Tears, Three Drops from a Cauldron and Fresh Air Poetry. He frequently reads at poetry events throughout the UK.

 

More By Z.D. Dicks:

Downpour

Sleepless

 

Image Credit: Giorgio de Chirico “The Song of Love” (1914) Public Domain

 

Jason Baldinger: “Beauty is a Rare Thing”

 

 

 

Beauty is a Rare Thing

on the back deck
of a civil war farmhouse
that survived gated in Pimlico
you pulled out these perfectly
rolled joints, the Reverend ran
into the woods to make water
on abandoned washer dryer combos

we watch the ghosts of owls
in an ancient walnut tree, you tell
me of your wife’s affair, your daughter
and the relationship you struggle
to keep together. Fritz the cat
sprays the basement floor
all your art piled up/ forgotten
age and time passing
depression its own hair trigger

I’ve heard it said
beauty is a rare thing
it seems my artist friends
know this and fear this equally
we scatter to document it
we post it where we can
proof this whole fucking human
experiment isn’t completely
futile

that night we read in your shop
to six people, we ate in some
shitty bar in the Inner Harbor
you felt you had outlived yourself
depression pulled you in
I’m never sure you got back out

that night I couldn’t sleep
I got lost in the painting
in the dining room
flipped through myriad
books of photography
thinking on all our
faulty human prayers
after a couple years
I saw you again
friends heard
you were struggling
we came to watch
baseball, talk records

I spent the evening djing
while friends raided every room
trying to get you to sell
impossibly rare lps

after all these years
working around music
I see it like paintings
like poems, like sculpture
as something you can’t truly
own, we pass it, accept it
it feeds us as then we abandon
it to memory

I saw with each record
a look, painful
wash your face
you didn’t understand
couldn’t accept these things
were the sum of your legacy

after that the depression
pulled you back I didn’t
see you again, social media
tells me this mortal coil
finally shook you, I hope
somehow as you found
the end to this life
that life finally
gave you some peace

 

 

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.

 

More by Jason Baldinger:

“I forgot the earth and heaven”

“When Cancer Come to Evansville, Indiana”

“blind into leaving”

 

Image Credit: Lee Russell “Bartender and owner of tavern on the southside of Chicago, Illinois ” (1941) The Library of Congress

Brian Connor: “Baseball Bastardized”

 

Baseball Bastardized:

How the Bungled Response to Covid-19 Reveals Baseball’s Inability to Evolve in a Changing Culture

By Brian Connor

 

Nothing could be done with the timing. Baseball happened to be the most heavily affected domino that fell among the cancelled major sports, unable to cancel a postseason or come up with a video game-esque return to play tournament format. The NBA, NHL, and Premier League soccer all shifted towards finishing up what little of the season remained or moving right to postseason play- in other words, the best part of the year for all of them. The MLB, meanwhile, had to get everyone out of Arizona and Florida and figure out how to come close to salvaging the 2,430 games they would have otherwise played.

Baseball was never a sport designed to make everyone happy. If you do your job right 3 out of 10 times, you likely get put on a performance review; if you’re a major leaguer who gets a hit 3 out of 10 at-bats, you likely get put on the All-Star team. If you go to bed with your favorite team having lost that day 62 times a year, you probably root for one of the best teams in the league and went to sleep happy the other 100 times. Whether a casual fan or an absolute fanatic, your favorite type of games are likely fast games (i.e. under 3 hours) featuring a lot of homers and runs scored- in other words, games that almost never happen. 

So it was likely wrong for us to assume that we were going to be happy with whatever makeshift version of a Major League Baseball season was going to be proposed, especially as it became reality that our usual summer of a hot dog and a cold beer in the bleachers, a walk by a sports bar with the game feed audible, and a game on the TV as background noise to a family party was less and less likely to happen. And as the transition of winter to spring and, now, spring to summer came without the glistening feel of Opening Day, the rawness of the world suspended the joy of the turn of the seasons as all came to a halt. There was no joy in Mudville, for they were all indoors.

Baseball then tried, in earnest I suppose, to try to come up with a plan to return, because America’s pastime, damnit. Forget that boring old soccer or that ice hockey thing I could never really understand, we need baseball back to heal this nation, for Christ! And yes, there are much bigger things for everyone both on a societal and personal level and many lives to be saved in the time of a pandemic. But I get it, though baseball junkie I am: emblematic of both the daily grind of the American worker and the daydream summer’s day that gets over half the country through its brutal winter, the sport hits differently than others. World wars couldn’t stop it; 9/11 merely delayed it; there’s an invincibility surrounding it, as sure as summer comes, so does baseball.

So where are we, then, as we approach almost three months since the originally scheduled Opening Day? Mainly, prorated salaries for players were proposed by team owners, agreed to by those players, then taken back for further pay cuts by those owners. This is likely because it simply won’t be feasible to play in front of fans this year, and ticket sales, concessions, etc. are the money makers for teams.  The losses expected are, exact words from Cubs owners Tom Ricketts, “biblical” for this year for MLB. No crosstown rivalry here: he and Jerry Reinsdorf mark the Chicago owners worth $1.8 billion who likely won’t see a dime of ticket sales between their two baseball teams this year. At least they have a better fate than the five poor bastards in the group of owners worth less than a billion- how else would they sleep at night? (Bringing up the rear is supposedly Reds owner Bob Castellini, with a net worth of a chump change $400 million)

But who wants that pressure of owning a team and striking a deal, anyway? I just want to take my family of four to a baseball game, just like when I was a kid. In 2019 this came out to an average of $32.99 a person just for the privilege of being in the park (damn Yankees driving those price up). Pops need a cold beer, of course, and a dollar saved is a dollar earned, kids, so I’m getting this light beer for $10 instead of a craft beer for $12. You kids need a hot dog, too, and thank goodness for that family deal for a hot dog and a drink- cheaper than sold separately! This Bud’s for me, so honey, you can have my fountain drink and we all come out ahead at $11.75 apiece! You look like you could use a $20 hat, Junior- my dad got me one when I was your age- and your brother needs a souvenir bat for another $25. We’ve got all that, so let’s strap in for at least 3 hours and watch .006% of the regular season!

Unrelated, baseball’s popularity is decreasing nationwide but had a revenue of $10.37 billion dollars last year. If only owners had made their coffee and avocado toast at home, maybe they would’ve saved some money for the players this year.

Two things are true for me at once, as things often are now: baseball is my favorite sport, and I can no longer justify why anyone would take a rooting interest in it. I called it America’s pastime earlier, but it isn’t anymore: five NFL regular season games drew higher TV ratings than Game 7 of the World Series last year, and never mind trying to follow a team for 162 days of the year as opposed to 16 Sundays. Soccer’s boring and low scoring? Check the fans in the 80th minute of a 1-0 Premier League game compared to the 8th of a 1-0 baseball game. Best live experience? Be there in person for a 2-1 hockey game. Most exciting sport? Same hockey game, only playoffs. How often have you seen a Steph Curry 3 or a LeBron dunk on Twitter? Every other winter day for about five years, right? What about a Mike Trout highlight of any kind? Whenever the official MLB account decides to tweet about it, I’m guessing? And don’t even think about giving baseball or the modern day Babe Ruth that free publicity on YOUR account, that’s against the rules! If James Harden does anything funny, go viral, you millennial hippie, but don’t ruin the sanctity of baseball with that vine of a home run!

These were my gripes before coronavirus, usually countered with “can’t beat being there on a nice day” and “you never really see the same thing twice”. Now we likely won’t be able to watch it in person at all this year, again destined for a boring summer due to a labor dispute, again making the same mistake that doomed the sport back in 1994.  The owners who supposedly cannot cope with the idea of lost revenue have nixed the player’s proposal of a 114 game season with a final offer of 50 games, as if the increased per game importance will salvage the sport. 

This is where we stand, then, summer nearly in full. We are days away from a no contact sport with bases 90 feet apart not being able to figure out how to handle coronavirus, with variations of it currently being played elsewhere in the world and all other major sports leagues either starting or finalizing plans to start.  In a country with millions out of work, 30 owners have its most traditional sport at a standstill out of caution of paying their players risking exposure to a virus in a worldwide pandemic a little bit more than they’d like. As places gradually start to return to normal, the best case scenario for a Major League Baseball season is a bastardized, bite-sized, 50 game sprint despite the wishes of fans and players alike.  Baseball is, and should be, taking a backseat to the much more important things that affect our day to day lives more than any game ever could (unless you want to add it to the list of things that need racial reform: only 7% of MLB players are Black). But in a time when we just need it to be a three hour distraction in any iteration, it can’t even be that. 

Nothing could be done with the timing. So much more could have been done with the time that immediately followed.

 

About the Author: Brian Connor writes on a number of topics, though most consistently about baseball on a fan site covering the White Sox during the season. Some further readings can be found at discodemolished.blogspot.com, which lately has been a similar screaming in the void nature of MLB coverage.

 

Image Credit: “Detroit ball player slides safely into third base as fielder reaches to the left for ball on the ground during baseball game” The Library of Congress