Dan Raphael: “A thread of Winter”

A Thread of Winter


sun sends frost into the grass and soil
wind is waiting for the dog to drop the ball 

those late night moments when a stretch of freeway
is empty and resents the next vehicle that comes through
but the road can’t change fast enough to assert its will

other times the freeway is so full and heavy
nothing moves and the earth beneath it
dreams of being a river and swimming inside itself

as the river knows without dreaming that
for much of winter, several threads of frozen water
tangle through it, unable to cohere or slow anything

yes heat rises, but in winter cold starts at the top 
walking to and from high school in winter, i could
generate heat in the center of my chest and have it
flow outwards, never spent enough time in heat
to generate cold, or a wind that trickles out my pores
not breath, a snack I can walk through
legless walking, how this body could fly
and land safely

what if our solar system was too hot
and we needed the opposite of the sun
to make earth cool enough to live on

what if the only places to live on this planet
were at the equator, what new ways
would we divide time, how would we
vary our wardrobes, what would be
peak vacation times, our birthdays
would be our personal new years

what if the only places to live on this planet
were at the equator, would I get adventurous
or systematically imaginative

About the Author: dan raphael’s poetry collection In the Wordshed will published by Last Word Press this November. More recent poems appear in Fireweed, Trampoline, Rasputin, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal and Unlikely Stories. Most Wednesdays dan writes and records a current events poet for The KBOO Evening News.

Image Credit: Ferdynand Ruszczyc “Winter Tale” (1904) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Sterling Warner: “Anthropomorphic Junkyard”

Anthropomorphic Junkyard

Frigidaires, washers, dryers & sinks
lay side by side, on top, or beneath

water heaters, ovens, bar-b-cue pits
& microwaves—some of them

waste away, relenting a lifetime
without celebrity or a past beyond

energy efficiency—utility taken
for granted unless natural gas lines break,

electric coals burn out, or freon pipes
leak; gloved hands load imperfect devices

in truck beds, trailers & trunks— toss them
sans ceremony: brusquely, rudely, callously

smashed by buckets, crushed under backhoe
wheels, picked up and dropped in heaps

that creak as sunlight heats & expands metal
wail as wind passes through hanging glass doors

sheltering rats day & night, providing refuge
from feral dogs & cats always on the chase

untamed creatures appreciative of blazing sky shade,
predatory animal protection, a rain & snow sanctuary

before transfer stations load rubble & dispose it
in empty asbestos mines at the earth’s core.

About the Author: A Washington-based author, educator, and Pushcart nominee for poetry, Warner’s works have appeared in many international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as  Street Lit., The Ekphrastic ReviewAnti-Heroin Chic, The Fib Review,  and Sparks of Calliope. Warner also has written seven volumes of poetry, including Without Wheels, ShadowCat, Memento Mori: A Chapbook Redux, Edges, Rags & Feathers, Serpent’s Tooth, and Flytraps (2021)—as well as. Masques: Flash Fiction & Short StoriesCurrently, he writes, hosts virtual poetry readings, and enjoys retirement. 

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Desert Junk Art” (2021)

Renwick Berchild: “Newspaper on Rainy Day”

Newspaper On Rainy Day 

Woven. The news today is a patchwork of a human breath. 
Rivers swell with rain. The boughs of timber steadily clap. 

In the wetted dulcet, flumes break then wilt. A denouement 
occurs in the pulling on of seagreen socks. Toes push.
 
Flash! Animation to filament. Tungsten and argon converge 
dancing as spindly mayflies in rapid mating before death.
 
Following the taut yarn to each end; “Engineers say Boeing 
Managers pushed to limit safety tests”; “Shoreline man gets
 
55 years for exploiting girls online”; to another string, alas; 
“Man burned at White House”; “Lots of little bits of plastic
 
wind up inside us”; “Opioid crisis comes to school”. Regret. 
Doubt. Concentrate the emotion until the bulb pops black.
 
The window cascades a drumming, an imbroglio of sounds. 
Susurrous and murmurous. Tinkling. A howl rushes by inured
 
to the violence of people performing. The yowl expounds. 
Torrents, arid scapes. Waters lurching and trees aflame.
 
Paste the clippings along the wall and try to oust the ghosts. 
Veiled, bucolic odors of the immediate world start to return. 

Circling insects. Droplets begin short burps and gulps. 
The ink and paper seem to decompose, life is recontained
 
in the light seeping, in the bright outdoor backdrop rolling 
out a dewy virescent carpet—how cold was the island there?
 
That past, where I concluded nothing but rapacity and cloud? 
Soil in the bed, I make way to the hillside of things rising. 
              “Woman wakes after 27 years unconscious”.

About the Author: Renwick Berchild is half literary critic, half poet. She is lead editor of Green Lion Journal and writes at Nothing in Particular Book Review. Her poems have appeared in Porridge Mag, Headline Press, Whimperbang, Free Verse Revolution, Vita Brevis, Streetcake, and other e-zines, anthologies, and journals. She was born and raised on the angry shores of Lake Superior, and now lives in a micro-apartment in Seattle, WA. Find more of her work at www.renwickberchild.com

Image Credit: Harris & Ewing “Newspapers coming off press” (1936) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Michael Gushue: “Valley of the Dolls”

VALLEY OF THE DOLLS

The town I came from was in the middle 
of nowhere. It was a small farming 
community until the locusts showed up.
I suppose you’d call us a tight knit bunch—
we knew what hour it was by the colors we wore,
and we didn’t follow Daylight Savings Time
because it was the work of the devil.
In other words, we were a god-fearing people
but we only believed in the fear part, 
and we might have been patriotic but 
had no idea what country we lived in. 
We loved our children, though we knew
their picnics were really for the yellow jackets. 
Adult parties we saw as soap operas 
decaying from conviviality to terror.
We had our ups and downs, booms and busts. 
There was the time the birds decided 
to attack us like they did like in the movie—
we couldn’t have cared less. We were that
kind of town. Our library was a point
of civic pride but the head librarian 
kept our dirty fingers away from the books. 

In the town square we erected statues 
to the unknown soldier, the unknown 
conscientious objector, and the unknown
guy in a recliner who doesn’t give a fuck.
And, boy, did we like our drugs or what?
We had parades on holidays. You can
take a wild guess how we handled that.
When you moved away the whole town
gathered at the train station to say good-bye
and warn you to never come back. 
There was a rumor that’s where Thomas Wolfe
got the idea for the title of his book.
Fact is, Thomas Wolfe never heard of us.
Of course, people are the same everywhere: 
badly carved marionettes jerked about
by a drunken, spastic puppeteer.
I guess looking back it seems kind of idyllic
compared to what I woke up to today.

About the Author: Michael Gushue is co-founder of the DC-based nanopress Poetry Mutual Press. He curates the BAWA poetry reading series in the Brookland and Capitol Hill neighborhoods of DC, and writes the Vrzhu Press poetry & arts blog, Bullets of Love. His books are Pachinko Mouth (Plan B Press), Conrad (Silver Spoon Press), Gathering Down Women (Pudding House Press), and—in collaboration with CL Bledsoe—I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey (Pretzelcoatl Press). He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Image Credit: Untitled (Amish Doll) Public domain image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia Sue Smith

Leslie M. Rupracht: “Slow Denial”

Slow Denial

Years passed since I witnessed 
MS fracture Mom’s neurology, stealing 
her calligraphic hand, stilling her walk 
and independence, robbing all recollection. 

Unhurried decline gave rise to stroke that denied 
her swallow, silenced her song and motherly words, 
her last breath at age 74. Today, with each successive 
phone call from seven hundred miles away, 

I learn how my father’s eyes betray his art. Potter’s 
wheel not recently turned, blank canvases on the easel 
sit untouched, despite Dad’s nagging urge to paint, 
to create, before his waning vision decides 

it’s too late. Now 83, he also fights COPD. Worries 
over his final arrangements, forgets again and again 
to follow through. I gently remind. I politely nag— 
it’s a father-daughter round dance. Correspondence 

penned by an unsure hand and our déjà vu discussions 
underscore his blurred attention to details, numbers, 
and words—macular degeneration in cahoots with his 
mind’s random disposal of clear thought and memory.

Tonight, I call Dad. I wrote a poem about a ball game 
we went to when I was nine. This holds his attention. 
He says he looks forward to hearing it. Calls me a true 
artist for my writing craft. Mostly, I want to reminisce 

for fun and distraction from our legal to-do list. Tough 
topics simmer on the back burner as Dad cites the same 
Major League players I named in my poem—
Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Willie Randolph, 

among them—our famous sports heroes who 
stood at the fence between first base and bleachers, 
signed autographs as we lingered in joyful awe, 
drenched in the summer rain.

Check out the previous poem referenced in stanza 6 “The Night I Lost My Souvenir Bucket Hat”

About the Author: Leslie M. Rupracht has poems appearing or forthcoming in Aeolian Harp, Asheville Poetry Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Chiron Review, K’in, The Ekphrastic Review, Gargoyle, Anti-Heroin Chic, Kakalak, a chapbook, Splintered Memories (Main Street Rag), and elsewhere. Editor, poet, writer, visual artist, and rescued pit bull mama, Leslie cofounded and hosts the monthly reading series, Waterbean Poetry Night at the Mic, in Huntersville, NC (on Facebook/Instagram @WaterbeanPoetryNightattheMic).

Image Credit: “Baseball game at Griffith Stadium, Washington, DC. The Washington Nationals are playing the Philadelphia Athletics” (1925) Image courtesy of The Library of Congress

Christian Paulisich: “Whale Watching”

About the Author: Christian Paulisich is an undergraduate poet at Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, but is originally from the Bay Area, California. His poems have appeared in Neologism Poetry Journal, Orchards Poetry Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Monterey Poetry Review. He enjoys nature walks, drinking Yerba mate, and spending time with loved ones. 

Image Credit: Original image from Icones rerum naturalium. Copenhague,Chez E.A.H. Möller, etc.,1805-1806. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Howie Good: “Mood Piece”

Mood Piece

Nights back then somehow seemed darker than they do now. I resigned myself to long empty hours of insomnia. Someone said, “Have you been checked out by a psychiatrist recently?” The house across the street from ours was strung with Christmas lights way into the spring. Police treated any outdoor gathering of three or more people as a riot. The latest idea in art was that only when a painter destroyed a painting, scratched it out, was it ready to be seen. A life’s work could just about fit inside a shoebox.

About the Author: Howie Good is a poet and collage artist on Cape Cod. His latest poetry books are Famous Long Ago (Laughing Ronin Press) and The Bad News First (Kung Fu Treachery Press)

Image Credit: Herbert Crowley “A Dark Landscape” Public Domain image courtesy of Artvee

Cameron Morse: “Memorial Day”

Memorial Day

A cousin tags me in the photo 
of the tombstone. It’s my name 
in liquid granite, not his, 
though neither of us are expected 
to live long, I expect I will
outlive him. Is that why I hide 
the photo from my profile? Do I 
see my face reflected in glass?
Am I afraid to go the way of my 
grandparents? That they might be 
lying in wait, robbers ready to 
spring out and seize me 
by the shoulders? Morning after 
Memorial Day I hide the photo 
I’m tagged in, tuck away the reminder 
to die in a loose digital sheaf 
and go on gassing up my lungs
with oxygen. Rain deafens the house 
I sit in. Great swells of white noise 
ocean waves gather and disperse. 
My wife and children are sound asleep
sleep the sounder for this. 
I examine the stone. Close my eyes 
and listen to the rain. 

About the Author: Cameron Morse (he, him) is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City-Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and three children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.    

Image Credit: Unknown Photographer “Clouds” (1871) Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program.

Leslie M. Rupracht: “The Night I Lost My Souvenir Bucket Hat”

The Night I Lost My Souvenir Bucket Hat 
	
  —Exhibition Game, August 8, 1977 
      MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse, New York
 
We three—
Dad, little brother, and nine-year-old me—
watched from the low-rise, general admission bleachers 
beside right field, a long walk to the concession stand 
and nowhere convenient to shelter from the rain, and 
it did rain that night we visited the ball park to see 
the New York Yankees rival their Triple-A farm club 
Syracuse Chiefs, who, after three innings, were ahead 
on the scoreboard before the rain delay, when Dad said 

the Yanks were letting the Chiefs win, rotating 
bench players while big name starters schmoozed 
at the fence-line, and luckily, that fence was close to 
us fans who sat in nowhere-land just to see our sports 
heroes because, let’s face it, we were there for 
the Major Leaguers anyway, our pounding pulses, 
giddy chatter, and broad grins underscoring delight in 
sort of meeting our favorite soon-to-be 
World Series Champs—

star hitter and right fielder Reggie Jackson, shortstop 
Bucky Dent, second baseman Willie Randolph, pitcher 
Ron Guidry, catcher Thurman Munson, among them—
signing autographs for more seasoned fans with 
the foresight to bring baseballs and ballpoints as 
we stood a mere Louisville Slugger’s length behind 
them, our eyes wide and jaws on the gravel, until 
the rain finally tapered off, antsy fans grew louder, 
and the umpire again declared,

Play ball! and when the ninth inning had barely ended—
the Chiefs having proudly trounced the Yanks 14-5—
our soggy trio mad-dashed through the crowd, Dad’s firm
hands guiding us kids by our shoulders to the restrooms 
for a pit stop, then onward to our trusty royal blue Ford 
van in the crowded parking lot, where I realized I’d lost 
my oft-worn, multi-colored Long Island Game Farm hat, 
too late to buy a Yankees ball cap and keepsake pen,
ask Mr. October to sign the not-yet-broken-in rim. 

About the Author: Leslie M. Rupracht has poems appearing or forthcoming in Aeolian Harp, Asheville Poetry Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Chiron Review, K’in, The Ekphrastic Review, Gargoyle, Anti-Heroin Chic, Kakalak, a chapbook, Splintered Memories (Main Street Rag), and elsewhere. Editor, poet, writer, visual artist, and rescued pit bull mama, Leslie cofounded and hosts the monthly reading series, Waterbean Poetry Night at the Mic, in Huntersville, NC (on Facebook/Instagram @WaterbeanPoetryNightattheMic).

Image Credit: Russell Lee “Night baseball, Marshall, Texas” (1939) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Cord Moreski: “Casual Friday”

Casual Friday


When the evening arrives
John next door goes by 
the name Lady Flamingo 

and puts away the expensive suit 
for a dress with sequins and feathers

hides his neatly combed hair 
beneath curls of a pink wig 

and trades in the quietness of his dress shoes 
for the authority of eight-inch heels

he works business in the city by day 
until business becomes hers by night.

This morning I hold the entrance door 
for him while we both leave for work 

sporting another Brooks Brothers suit 
he tells me it’s Casual Friday 
as he points to the pink flamingo on his tie.

About the Author: Cord Moreski is a poet from the Jersey Shore. Moreski is the author of Confined Spaces (Two Key Customs, 2022), The News Around Town (Maverick Duck Press, 2020), and Shaking Hands with Time (Indigent Press, 2018). When he is not writing, Cord waits tables for a living and teaches middle school children that poetry is awesome. His next chapbook Apartment Poems will be released by Between Shadows Press in late 2022. You can follow Cord here: www.cordmoreski.com

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “LA Flamingo” (2021)