Candice Kelsey: “We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden”

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We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden



at the Huntington Library
we trekked toward
the tussled little squares
of horehound
licorice lavender mignonette
and heliotrope
waiting impatiently
like overgrown graves
with bamboo souls
hovering mid-trellis dance
for people like us
who strolled on occasion
when the weather was just right
past the tearoom
into the Herb Garden sustenance
of thumb and forefinger
rubbing like grasshoppers’ legs
to release the scent
of garlic chive and lemongrass
even lovage borage
or sometimes marjoram
such funny words
that seem to rub together
now and release the memory
of a time when my children
had no interest
in the predictability of roses
preferring again and again
the chaotic clusters
of sweet alyssum
which I’ve come to learn means
worth beyond beauty

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About the Author: Candice Kelsey teaches writing in the South. Her poetry appears in Poets Reading the News and Poet Lore among other journals, and her first collection, Still I am Pushing, explores mother-daughter relationships as well as toxic body messages. She won the 2019 Two Sisters Writing’s Contest and was recently nominated for both a Best of the Net and a Pushcart. Find her at www.candicemkelseypoet.com

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Faded Rose” (2021)

Holly Day: “Scales and Cataracts”

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About the Author: Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been an instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her writing has recently appeared in , and Hubbub, GrainThird Wednesday, and her newest books are (Anaphora Literary Press)The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body, (Weasel Press), (Shanti Arts), and (Wiley). Book of Beasts Bound in Ice Music Composition for Dummies

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Image Credit: Angelika Hoerle “Female Bust” (1920) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

John Dorsey: “One Cool Customer”

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One Cool Customer

he comes in with dirt on his hands
asking about old doc savage novels
that nobody ever has

for a minute we can forget politics
or who had a baby
with whose husband
three generations back
before running barefoot
into the moonlight
with a sweaty paperback
in each hand.

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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), and Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020). 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.

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More By John Dorsey:

Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead

Punk Rock at 45

Perpetual Motion

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Lights Outside Ehrenberg, AZ”  (2021)

John Compton: “william Carlos Williams”

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About the Author: john compton (b. 1987) is gay poet who lives in kentucky. his poetry resides in his chest like many hearts & they bloom like vigorously infectious wild flowers. he lives in a tiny town, with his husband josh and their 3 dogs and 2 cats. he feels his head is an auditorium filled with the dead poets from the past. poems are written and edited constantly. his poetry is a personal journey. he reaches for things close and far, trying to give them life: growing up gay; having mental health issues; a journey into his childhood; the world that surrounds us. he writes to be alive, to learn and to grow. he loves imagery, metaphor, simile, abstract language, sounds, when one word can drift you into another direction. he loves playing with vocabulary, creating texture and emotions. he has published 1 book and 5 chapbooks published and forthcoming: trainride elsewhere (august 2016) from Pressed Wafer; that moan like a saxophone (december 2016) from kindle; ampersand (march 2018) from Plan B Press; a child growing wild inside the mothering womb (june 2020) from ghost city press; i saw god cooking children / paint their bones (oct 2020) from blood pudding press; to wash all the pretty things off my skin (sept 2021) from ethel zine & micro-press. he has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

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Image Credit: Detail from “The Pomological magazine” London; J. Ridgway. Public Domain image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Joseph Mills: “Framework”

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About the Author: A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills has published six collections of poetry, including “Exit, pursued by a bear” which consists of poems triggered by stage directions in Shakespeare. His book “This Miraculous Turning” was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family

Jo Angela Edwins: “Housewarming Party”

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Housewarming Party

The host asks about a tree
in his new yard,
and quickly I answer,
Saucer magnolia.

The pink blooms are just now
unfolding themselves,
shy hands giving up
on a prayer.

I tell my mother’s story,
how she called them tulip trees
until my sister bought a tulip tree
to plant in our yard,

its yellow blooms nothing
like these lush pinks and violets,
its leaves dancing, opened wide
as shaken kerchiefs.

My mother wasn’t thrilled
with being corrected.
It’s what we were taught,
was all she said.

But she wasn’t cruel, merely hurt,
like so many times in her life,
like the time we corrected her spelling
of forty, laughing at the unexpected “u.”

Then my teachers were wrong!
And we chuckled and agreed.
We were her children. We were tipsy
on our young wisdom.

I leave out the sadness
when I tell the story.
But it’s there. It tastes bitter,
like the black coffee

she made instant and drank
in chipped but dainty tea cups
as she stared out our kitchen windows
at the inscrutable forest.

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About the Author: Jo Angela Edwins has published poems in various venues, recently including Amethyst ReviewBreakwater ReviewFeral, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016. She has received awards from Winning Writers, Poetry Super Highway, and the SC Academy of Authors and is a Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize, and Bettering American Poetry nominee. She lives in Florence, SC, where she serves as the poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of the state.

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Image Credit: Image from Illustrations of Himalayan plants: London : L. Reeve,1855. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Steve BrisenDine: “Pickling”

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About the Author: Steve Brisendine is a poet, writer, occasional artist and recovering journalist who lives and works in Mission, KS. His work has appeared in As It Ought To Be, Flint Hills Review, Connecticut River Review and other publications. His first collection of Poetry, The Words We Do Not Have, was published in 2021 by Spartan Press.

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More By Steve Brisendine:

Working Out a Splinter at Three O’clock on Good Friday Afternoon

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Image Credit: John Colier Jr. “Steel-saving glass-top jars recommended by the War Production Board, Containers Division” (1943) The Library of Congress

Victor Clevenger: “Contemporary Tanka”

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fried chicken bones
resting in empty gravy bowl
on kitchen table
my grandmother baked biscuits
for nearly sixty-six years

 

                shark tooth lady
                diving into shallows
                of teenage boy’s blue jeans
                & we always remember where we were
                during tragedies

 

natalie doesn’t know why
the milkman prefers
sharks over swans
holding kentucky sand
she blows kisses to what could have been

 

             glorify death
             cartoons have more today
             than a mortician’s memoir
             still in draft format scribbled
             all pages lead to the end

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About the Author: Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing.  Selected pieces of his work have appeared in print magazines and journals around the world; it has also been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize.  He is the author of several collections of poetry including Sandpaper Lovin’ (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017), A Finger in the Hornets’ Nest (Red Flag Poetry, 2018), Corned Beef Hash By Candlelight (Luchador Press, 2019), A Wildflower In Blood (Roaring Junior Press, 2020), and Mourning Eyes (Between Shadows Press, 2021).  Together with American poet John Dorsey, they run River Dog. He can be reached at: crownofcrows@yahoo.com

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More by Victor Clevenger:

$5.00 Wok

Milkman’s Mustache

Thursday Evening in September

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Image Credit: Russell Lee “Dinner table of tenant farm family living near Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Food consists of beans, cornbread, lettuce, fried potatoes, fatback and gravy, cole slaw and sweet milk” (1939) The Library of Congress

Joe Milford: “After The Mermaids Are Gone”

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After The Mermaids Are Gone

The tin foil over the bowl holding
The cooling bacon grease
The child laughing at the TV
You checking your hair for split ends
On the couch with pillows everywhere
The moon and sun in the sky
At the same time
The whole apartment is just “breakfast”
The juniper tree in the backyard
Hanging and waiting for the night deer
The ivy on the windowsill—the books
Of poetry everywhere—the way
You keep obsessively checking your hair
The laughter again and my old tattered
Chair—the bottles you placed on the shelf
To separate each type of coin—
A barbecue sauce bottle for dimes, glass
Milk bottles for quarters and nickels, etc.
Everything in its place, but me still
Disheveled and so in love with
A home, a fragile thing, a thing that
Falls like rose buds if you look
At the flower wrong or try to pick
Or cut it for her while she
Plucks invisible roses from her hair

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About the Author: Joseph V. Milford has been a full-time teacher of English and Creative Writing for over two decades now (currently teaching at U of West GA and UC West Virginia). He published his first collection of poems, Cracked Altimeter, with BlazeVox Press in 2010 and has another collection of poems, Tattered Scrolls And Postulates, Vol. I, from Backlash Press (2017). He edits an online literary thread, called RASPUTIN (http://rasputinpoetry.blogspot.com/) which publishes poetry exclusively. He is also the former host of the Joe Milford Poetry Show where he hosted 100’s of interviews with American and Canadian poets.

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Blossoms in Arcadia” (2021)

Rose Mary Boehm: “Sustainable energy”

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Sustainable energy

A field covered in blue.
The flowers rise. Thousands
of butterflies lift off in a
drunken dither towards

a sky made of sugar icing.
Their wings brush my skin
enough for me to wake.
You are covering me with

insubstantial kisses.  I turn
and try to become real.
‘Kisses, petrol for your
engines. Wakey wakey.’
How I hate jolliness in
the mornings.

By now I dislike him intensely.
Besides, how can he possibly
love me in the mornings?

I’d clout him if I weren’t so
heavy. ‘Petrol? Fossil fuel.
Unsustainable.’
‘Want proof?’ he grins.

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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 “Canyon Butterfly” (2021)