Troy Schoultz: “Abbotsford Cemetery”

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About the Author: Troy Schoultz is a lifelong Wisconsin resident. His poems, stories, and reviews have appeared in Seattle Review, Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Fish Drum, Santa Monica Review, Steel Toe Review, Midwestern Gothic, Palooka and many others in the U.S. and U.K. since 1997. He is the author of two chapbooks and three full-length collections.  His interests and influences include rock and roll, vinyl LPs, found objects, the paranormal, abandoned places, folklore, old cemeteries, and the number five. He hosts and produces S’kosh: The Oshkosh Podcast. For more information check out https://troyschoultz.wixsite.com/website

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Crow on a Fence” (2021)

Melody Wang: “She is the legend, I am the storyteller”

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She is the legend, I am the storyteller

Yet at this moment she is
but a faint flutter in my belly —

soft/sturdy plastic pouch housing
this feisty fish all glimmer & gold

hurling her tiny body against the confines
of a motherland — its sharp, swelling waves

a symphony of loss. She cannot be swept
away by the same tsunami that pinned me

in cold embrace, whispering of the slow
delicious dark depths eager to claim me

as their own. She will be born with no trace
of apology, defying odds, yet never at odds

with the wind-wild essence of the women
who came before, flowers strewn through

raven and chestnut hair, feet sturdy upon
sun-warmed earth — women with no fear

who inherited herbal wisdom, a warm healing
touch that drew in people from miles away

who longed for a remedy or the gentle smile
of someone who had traversed vast worlds

beyond them. In this familiar foretelling,
I arrive at the doorstep of my ancestors,

renewal of her-story cloaked in the crinkly
eyes of a mother reclaiming land. I’m a child

holding out my basket with trembling hands,
eager to collect all that was meant for me.

I feel her tiny, insistent kicks catapulting me
into the present moment and cannot hold back

my smile: tremulous as a shy burst of sunlight
finally fortified and flourishing after the storm

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About the Author: Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband and wishes it were autumn all year ‘round. Her debut collection of poetry “Night-blooming Cereus” was released in December 2021 with Alien Buddha Press. She can be found on Twitter @MelodyOfMusings or at her website https://linktr.ee/MelodyOfMusings

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Fern Fronds” (2022)

Lynn White: “Eggshells”

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Eggshells

Make a hole in the eggshell
so the witches won’t steal them.
They’ll sail them away like a boat
and take you with them.

That’s what her granny said
when she was growing up.
So that’s what she did
as an obedient child.

But now she leaves the shells whole,
unpunctured
splendidly ovoid
as she always thought they should be.
She was not afraid of witches.
She was not afraid

and she would never walk on eggshells.

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About the Author: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal and So It Goes. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

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Image Credit: Einhundert Tafeln colorirter Abbildungen von Vogeleiern : Dresden :[Brockhaus],[1856] Image courtesy of The Biodiversity Library (Public Domain)

George Freek: “The Ear and the Eye”

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The Ear and the Eye (After Chu Hsi)

The sun appears
trapped like a fly
in a web of branches,
but it’s an illusion.
The sun will escape
from such confusion.
They say before he died,
Li Po tried to express
the sound of a sunset in words
or so I’ve heard.
I watch willow leaves 
fall into a black river.
I hear the river carry
them somewhere.
I only imagine where. 
I’ll never go there.
I watch clouds assemble
like an invading army. 
I hear far off thunder. 
It seems I know nothing.
I can only wonder.

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About the Author: George Freek’s poetry has appeared in numerous Journals and Reviews. His poem “Written At Blue Lake” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Sunset West” (2021)

Brian Connor “Baseball: Back”

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Baseball: Back

By Brian Connor

They started testing out the stadium lights last week, at least the top row. Most important and oldest of the things first. Next I came home from work to see the blue neon glow of the Wintrust sign atop the jumbotron visible again: I say jumbotron because to call it a scoreboard gives it the impression it could even compete with its iconic counterpart in center. Finally they turned that TV on in full, testing templates for what looked like starting pitchers before turning it off. This week all parts will be firing on all cylinders.

I live about as east as you can go in Chicago, in a northern enough disposition that allows Wrigley Field to be visible from my apartment. For reasons I’m not quite sure of, the team leaves the stadium lights on all night following any home games, day or night. It’s worth mentioning the irony of my particular rooting interest- I sing a song of good guys wear black, of winning ugly, na na hey hey, he gone, gaaaaaaaaaaasssss- but it’s something I caught onto quick having moved there the first full attendance allowed game at the stadium last year. 

I’d get used to coming home and looking out to see the stadium lights on in full. Some days it would be after a long work day with the pinkish summer sunset as the backdrop, some nights it would be about that witching hour time when that “one last bar” welcomed us for probably too long. And, frankly, Wrigley is the dame I recognize as beautiful but isn’t my type, and I’ve often thought someone who’s an actual fan of the team would appreciate that view and those endless stadium lights more than I who fell for the team who chose the faceless fireworks factory façade as a ballpark theme. But there’s something to coming home every time the team’s in town and seeing those stadium lights dwarf the apartments barely putting up a fight below in a summer night. 

It’s been a long six months of seeing nothing but the neon “Chicago CUBS” sign- designed, I would have to think, to beckon the attention of the bleacher creatures to let them know that, in their drunken stupor, they’d found it- on and forever and always on. We were, for a while, in danger of having that happen for an even longer time: the disputes over the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the player’s association over the winter came to a lockout, and grew uglier by the day for quite some time. I can’t recall the day that I thought of penning “Baseball Bastardized II” for this site, but I had definitely made my mind up on number vs. roman numerals and the list of talking points. Continue reading “Brian Connor “Baseball: Back””

Steve Brisendine: “The Gray King of Winter’s End”

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The Gray King of Winter’s End

We have lions in Kansas, of a sort, but
our sort skulks, yellow-eyed, and slinks
               from one shadow to the next.

Here, March comes in like an old badger,
surly and still possessed of claws
               with a few good scratches left.

It growls through whipping prairie grass, 
burrows down past-dusk suburban streets 
               daring you to try and stop it.

In its prime, it bit with teeth of jagged
ice, dug holes in houses, picked off and
               picked clean the unhoused.

Even in twilight it is nothing you want to 
fight for long; even dulled, its weapons
               still sting, still buffet and bruise.

It chases thunder east to Missouri, nips
at lightning’s heels, gnaws all night
               at chattering screen doors.

Whatever comes to take it to earth at last
will not wear wool, but feathers, and fly
               full speed into April, talons bared.

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About the Author: Steve Brisendine is a writer, poet, occasional artist and recovering journalist living and working in Mission, KS. He is the author of two collections from Spartan Press: The Words We Do Not Have (2021) and Salt Holds No Secret But This (2022). His work has appeared previously in As It Ought to Be Magazine, as well as in Connecticut River Review Journal, Flint Hills Review, Circle Show and other journals and anthologies. He was a finalist for the 2021 Derrick Burleson Poetry Prize.

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Image Credit: Russell Lee, “Weather vanes, Sheridan County, Kansas” (1939) The Library of Congress

Rose Mary Boehm: “Cumbrian Summer”

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Cumbrian Summer

The mudroom. Wildflowers on the kitchen table. 
Big eiderdowns in which I could disappear.
Mother and I played hide-and-seek
during that last summer,
before her hair fell out.

We ran through oak woodland
and pretended to fish in the tarns.

Father couldn’t come, she said.
Sometimes she’d sit by the window
looking out at nothing. 

Those were the afternoons
when I professed to read,
with deep interest, my book
on English wildflowers.
With illustrations.

In London, on a drip
of lifesaving poison,
she smiled at the memory.
And the silence
was too loud.

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About the Author: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fifth poetry collection, DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS, has just been snapped up by Kelsay Books for publication May/June 2022. Her website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Wild Daisies” (2022)

Caleb Bouchard: “Slippage”

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Slippage

A love letter tacked on a refrigerator slips from the grip of the magnet and lands inside the fridge, among the leftovers, uncooked meat, and vegetables. It grows cold over time, soaks in all the pungent smells of the tupperware food kept for too long. Grimy spinach. Sour soup. Chili caked in a layer of discolored fat. The letter’s edges curdle and the penned words blanch in solidarity with the forsaken dishes, until the words have completely faded and the page is empty, and somewhat crepey.

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About the Author: Caleb Bouchard’s writing has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from The Atlanta Review, MORIA, Saw Palm, and Thimble Literary Magazine. His translations of the French poet Jacques Prevel will soon appear in Black Sun Lit and Poet Lore.

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Image Credit: Russel Lee “Houses at Mineral King cooperative farm. Tulare County, California. They are equipped with electric refrigerators” (1940) The Library of Congress

Ryan Quinn Flanagan: “She Says Her Cat is in Love with Javier Bardem”

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She Says Her Cat is in Love with Javier Bardem 

She tells me she sat up late watching
Being the Ricardos.

That it is better than you would think 
which is what everyone says about everything
but the apocalypse.

Throwing one of those scrunchies up in her hair
like trying to contain the mess.

A trick of beauty that she still turns heads.
Says her cat is in love with Javier Bardem.

Woke up out of a dead sleep on the couch
to watch him most attentively.

When she sleeps, she’s out,
she says.
She doesn’t do that for anyone.

I’ve taken to calling her cat Mrs. Bardem
the last few days.

The cat seems to get embarrassed
if cat embarrassment away from the little box
is such a thing.

Throws litter all over the place.
She never did that before.

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About the Author: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

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Image Credit: “One of the “smart set” (1906) Courtesy of The Library of Congress (public domain)

Larry Smith: “March 31, 1852 in Thoreau’s Journal”

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March 31, 1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:
What would the days, what would our life, be worth, if some nights were not dark as pitch, – of darkness tangible or that you can cut with a knife? How else could the light in the mind shine? How should we be conscious of the light of reason? If it were not for physical cold, how should we have discovered the warmth of the affections? I sometimes feel that I need to sit in a far-away cave through a three weeks’ storm, cold and wet, to give a tone to my system. The spring has its windy March to usher it in, with many soaking rains reaching into April. Methinks I would share every creature’s suffering for the sake of its experience and joy.

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March 31, 1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:

What would the days, what would our life, be worth, 
if some nights were not dark as pitch, 
of darkness tangible or that you can cut with a knife? 
How else could the light in the mind shine? 
How should we be conscious of the light of reason? 
If it were not for physical cold, how should we 
have discovered the warmth of the affections? 

I sometimes feel that I need to sit in a far-away cave
through a three weeks’ storm, cold and wet, 
to give a tone to my system. 
The spring has its windy March to usher it in, 
with many soaking rains reaching into April. 
Methinks I would share every creature’s suffering 
for the sake of its experience and joy.

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About the Author: Larry Smith, director of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio. Smith is from the industrial Ohio Valley and a professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University with over a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and memoir.

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More By Larry Smith:

No Walls

Union Town

At The Country Store

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