“A Good Bad Day” By Tony Gloeggler

 

A GOOD BAD DAY

John walks slowly up the stairs
to my office every day. Between
four and four-thirty, after the bus
brings him home from day program
and after he uses the bathroom,
he says, “Oh, hello, Tony,” as if
he’s surprised to find me
sitting at my desk. He says
he had a good day, stands
by a chair, and after six years
of living at the residence,
his home, he still hesitates,
wonders if he needs permission
to sit down. I don’t give it,
wait until he sits on his own.
He tells me if he read or painted,
exercised or sang today and I ask
questions as if I was his mother.
Maybe he went to a park, a store,
the library. All along he wears
this pleasant, half smiling,
perfectly balanced, zen-like gaze
across his Fred Flintstone face
and I don’t know if I’m stressed
or bored, mean, or just a smart-ass
acting like we are friends;
but when he asks me about my day
sometimes I tell him the truth.

Uselessly endless meetings, piles
of paper work, asshole administrators.
Not enough sleep. Girlfriend trouble.
Yesterday, I told him that a woman
I loved is getting married on a boat
in September and I wished
I owned a torpedo. He didn’t say
anything, just sat there smiling
and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it
I had to ask him if he ever
had a bad day. When he said no,
none that he could remember,
I said are you sure. He said
I don’t think so and looked like
he was thinking hard. I leaned
forward, said that I felt very sad
when my father died and I wondered
how he felt when his mom and dad
passed away. John jutted out his chin,
looked beyond me and said yeah
that was a bad day. When I asked
if he missed them, he chewed
on his lips, said sometimes,
and I said I know what you mean.

 

(This poem first appeared in Rattle)

 

About Tony Gloeggler: I am a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. My work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, The Examined Life Journal, Raleigh Review, New Ohio Review, Stirring and The NY Times. My full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) which focused on my job and the autistic son of a former girlfriend. My next book, What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.

 

More By Tony Gloeggler

“Crossing”

“Visitor’s Day at the Group Home”

“In the Building”

 

Image Credit: Paul Klee “Senecio” (1922) Public Domain

“Melancholy & The Afterglow” By Damian Rucci

 

 

Melancholy & The Afterglow

You can throw all the rocks
from here to Norwood Avenue
up to heaven but they’ll find
home again in the earth

maybe in different places, maybe
find new homes down the road
in the silk grasses of privilege
but they’ll always be covered in dirt

then why do we mourn dawn
hold on to the black skies
of transcendence as light rays
remind us we’re still ourselves?

They remind us that any
enlightenment that comes in a baggy
is another layer we hide truth behind

after all the higher you climb
the worse it hurts falling back down

.

About the Author: Damian Rucci’s work has recently appeared in Cultural Weekly, Beatdom, Big Hammer, and coffee shops and basements across the country. He is an author of three chapbooks and a split Former Lives of Saints with Ezhno Martin. Damian hosted the Poetry in the Port reading series, currently hosts the Belle Ringer Open Mic and is a poet in residence at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. He can be reached at damian.rucci@gmail.com

Image Credit: Walker Evans “Houses and Cemetery, Birmingham, Alabama” (1936) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“Impressions from the Land of Vanished Beautiful Things” By Stephen Mead

 

 

Impressions from the Land of Vanished Beautiful Things

By Stephen Mead

 

As I type the words Living Room that occasionally perverse, peculiar voice from a darkly comic, mad quadrant of my brain asks: “Yes, well what about other rooms?  Aren’t they for living too, and what would be the opposite?” Come into the Dying Room, dear, you’re looking a bit a peaked.  See these nice shiny vials of embalming fluid? Just relax and we’ll fix you right up in a jiff.  

There were several entrances to the living room of the farmhouse I grew up in, all but one being offshoots from other living quarters, and one in particular which had the capacity for a allowing a person the semblance of a grand entrance.  This was the large space from the dining room which had two recessed sliding wood doors that I never saw opened the entire time I lived on the farm. These were kept hidden by a horizontal pole running along the top, used mainly for clothes on hangers (either hung there for drying or waiting to be put on for “dress-up” occasions), the pole itself bolting the doors in place with tarnished black screwed in metal clasps.  During the times we asked my mom if we could take out said clasps to at least see these intriguing doors she would respond, “Hell, no. They are dirty and full of dust. You’d have an allergic reaction. Don’t even think about it.” Thus these doors, that had the imagined potential of sliding back with dramatic gossamer magic, as if for the Loretta Young show, remained mysterious with their central gold plated slots where you could push a button and, presto, pewter handles would pop out.  “Quit playing with that!”, was the accompanying admonishment mom’s preyed-on-nerves would spout as if by rote whenever we did this.  Actually, even without access to the doors, there were a few times I can recall when my siblings and I put up sheets on this dining entrance pole and thus had makeshift stage curtains for brief plays and musicals we’d improvise.  (What can I say? We didn’t live in the suburbs and had to come up with some means of fending off the delirium borne of boredom during shut-in days of inclement weather.)

Now that I’ve started to write about it I see that trying to describe the living room is like trying to describe a water color painting in process.  Memories and emotions overlap transparently while nevertheless creating layers, this way, that, which shifts the substance of the views welling and disappearing first over here, then, over there.  In order to frame the canvas so-to-speak, a person has to find a way to ground the surface plane, center it, and then see what details are strummed forth. Continue reading

“Forget Math and Science” By Larry Smith

 

 

Forget Math and Science

Birds live inside of birds
tucked away for spring release
their naked bodies embraced
in sleep’s sweetness.
Their wings are tongues licking
each other’s face.
Don’t try to count them all
they’re an infinite multiple of six.

To love a single bird
you must become one
inside and out, top to bottom.
Then rise wings up and fly
sing through beak and body
the song of I Am.

 

About the Author: Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer, and editor-publisher of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio where they feature a Working Lives and an Appalachian Writing Series. He is also the biographer of Kenneth Patchen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He lives in Huron, Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie.

 

More By Larry Smith:

Wages

No Walls

 

Image Credit: Frans Snyders “Perroquets et autres oiseaux” (17th Century) Public Domain

“Explaining Depression to My Cousin” by Nathan Graziano

 

 

Explaining Depression to My Cousin

 

It’s melodrama shot execution-style on a sidewalk.

It’s a pit in your stomach stuffed with fluff.

It’s two a.m. with morning’s foot pressed to its throat.

It’s me grabbing your hand and crying on your shoulder.

It’s words desperate to find a sentence that loves them.

It’s an airless dream then waking, suddenly, suffocated.

It’s not losing a job, a loveless marriage or the desertion

of a childhood dream that once made you smile.

It’s the pill you have to take twice a day, knowing

it’s not resolved with exercise or diet or thinking

the positive thoughts that positive people think.

It’s mustering the courage to wake up tomorrow and dress,

one stupid leg after the next laborious leg, and press on.

 

About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014), Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.

 

More By Nathan Graziano:

“My Bipolar Ex-Love”

“The Misery of Fun”

 

Image Credit: “Nos” by Ismael Nery Public Domain

“Why Did You Try to Sober Up?” by Ace Boggess

 

“Why Did You Try to Sober Up?”
                           [rehab workbook]

Couldn’t afford the cost of words.
I snorted sentences, gambled paragraphs
on Texas Hold’em—no limit.
My wallet left me in stanzas of regret.
Someone would’ve placed a lien on my house.
Someone would’ve called the cops
if I hadn’t invited them first.

I wrote, wept, raved, & spent,
chewed bad checks like after-dinner mints.

Was it the drugs that broke me, or the prose?
We never know what value to place
on what we want. I wanted
to etch my unconscious thoughts on rocks.

Did I love the pills? I loved them: little songs
I could sing to me, pay-to-play,
the tab so great I’d be muzzled
if I wasted coins on anything but wishes.

 

About the Author: Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018). His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, Rattle, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

 

Image Credit: Jacob Byerly “Portrait of a Man” (1855) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“Listening to Blue Monday on a Friday” By Ryan Quinn Flanagan

 

Listening to Blue Monday on a Friday

Listening to Blue Monday on a Friday
it seems the specifics have crawled off some time
during the night, snuck out past the perimeter,
back down into the sewers perhaps with all the other mutants,
those walls of industrial sludge caked on so thick
the city superintendent starts to speak about layers,
like removing the paint from some famous rendering
looking for hidden secrets and finding nothing but canvas,
it’s Al Capone’s vault all over again, this is why the television people
don’t like to go live anymore which is understandable,
a pie eating contest is the only socially acceptable way
to explain pie on your face, the rest looks like straight fetishism
in the badlands, someone collecting trophies that came  
from other human beings instead of sporting events,
those bad boys and girls that get locked away all by themselves,
the sound of the manacles rubbing together as they walk,
but this poem was never for them; my cassette tape threatening
to unwind at any moment, the pink eraser end of a no. 2 pencil
at the ready to turn the spools, over Chamomile tea and
droopy socks I still listen for Ian Curtis’ voice even though I know
it can’t be there.

 

 

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, The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

 

More By Ryan Quinn Flanagan:

“Robbie the Owl”

“He Brought His Canvases Over”

“Before Evening Med Pass”

“It’s a girl I can tell, we’ve had nothing but trouble”

“Why Answers are Never the Answer”

 

Image Credit: “Katedrala” František Kupka (1912) Public Domain