“Hit and Run” By Steve Cushman

 

Hit and Run

My father had left us two days earlier
and my mother was driving the rusting
Torino to my sister’s softball practice.
Kim was in the front, and I was in the back.
Mom stopped at a red light when a man 
read-ended us. Shit, Mom said, enough already,
but we weren’t yet done with heartbreak because
five minutes later the hit and run driver, a tall
skinny drunk guy seemed to realize what sort
of trouble he was in, so he took off.  When the
police officer arrived and walked over, my mother
punched his chest, and my sister shook her head,
said Men.  The cop opened his arms when he could
have closed them.  Then he did what I couldn’t do,
held my mother, told her it was going to be alright
whether he believed this or not I’ll never know.

 

About the Author: Steve Cushman has published three novels, including the 2004 Novello-Award Winning Portisville.  His first poetry collection, How Birds Fly, is the winner of the 2018 Lena Shull Book Award.

 

More by Steve Cushman:

“Small Gifts”

 

Image Credit: “Manayunk, Pennsylvania. Part of an automobile junk yard on Ridge Avenue” by Paul Vanderbilt (1938) from The Library of Congress

“Cards” by Jonathan K. Rice

 

Cards
           circa 1965

It’s time for the monthly bridge club
my parents host with couples
from other neighborhoods
and it’s our turn. My role is minimal.

I’m told to stay in my room,
but to first greet everyone and say goodnight,
just not be seen and not play my records.
Preferably not make any noise at all.

I decide to read The Island of Dr. Moreau
I bought at the school book fair that morning,
maybe play around with the crystal radio I built from a kit.

Before long I can hear people laughing,
ice clinking. I can smell the vermouth, gin,
the occasional cigarette.

I open the window, take off the screen
and climb out behind the tall hibiscus,
dodging palmetto bugs and lizards,

steal away into the night down the block
where older kids hang by the street light.
The newspaper boy has a zip gun he made
with some pipe from a nearby construction site.

He says it will shoot .22 bullets
and he has a pocketful. I can see the cars
in the driveway and along the street
in front of my house.

The kid shoots his zip gun. It sounds like a
firecracker, and we hear broken glass. He loads
it again. More fireworks. More broken glass.
And it’s all in front of my house.

We run in different directions.
I run toward a neighbor’s backyard
around to my window.

I hear the needle scratch vinyl, screeching
through my dad’s bossa nova record
while men cuss. This is not what Bridge
usually sounds like.

I hear poker chips being thrown and stacked,
the hardness of bottles and glasses on the table,
doors opening and closing, people coming and going.
footsteps down the hallway.

The screen and window back in place,
I pick up my book. Mom comes in,
finds me reading H.G.Wells.

 

About the Author: Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is also a visual artist. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications, including Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Diaphanous, Empty Mirror, Gargoyle, Inflectionist Review, Levure Litteraire, The Main Street Rag, Wild Goose Poetry Review and the anthologies, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina.

 

More by Jonathan K. Rice

“Springmaid Pier”

 

Image Credit: “Detroit, Michigan. Poker hand and hands of girl players” (1941) Arthur S. Siegel. from The Library of Congress

“Ice Cream” By Bunkong Tuon

 

This is the first in a series of poems from a forthcoming poetry collection about raising a biracial daughter in Contemporary America, during this polarizing time of political and cultural upheavals where sexual harassment allegations abound, where a wall, literal and figurative, threatens to keep out immigrants like the narrator, a former refugee and child survivor of the Cambodian Genocide.

 

Ice Cream

I take Chanda
to the local mall,
where she flies
in the bounce house
with other kids,
screaming and laughing.
She climbs up
the slide and rolls
down the cushy steps.
She pirouettes
on the piano floor.
Then I take her
to the ice cream place
where we share
a cup of vanilla.
I watch her quietly
shove a spoonful
into her waiting mouth,
tasting the sweetness
on her pink tongue.
Memories of my father
flood, how he lost his wife.
When the Khmer Rouge regime
fell, Grandma was preparing to
take me with her to Thailand.
My father took me out
for ice cream one day.
He was telling me
something important.
That he would follow
Grandma and bring me home.
That he would wait
for me.
That he would always . . .
But I couldn’t hear a word
he said once the ice cream
flooded my tongue with
such sweetness.

 

About the Author: Bunkong Tuon is the author of Gruel (2015) and And So I Was Blessed (2017), both poetry collections published by NYQ Books, and a regular contributor to Cultural Weekly  He is also an associate professor of English and Asian Studies at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.

 

More poetry by Bunkong Tuon:

Fragments
Our Neighborhood in Revere, MA
Snow Day
An Elegy for a Fellow Cambodian
Halloween, 1985
Dancing Fu Manchu Master
Fishing for Trey Platoo
Lies I Told About Father

 

Image Credit: “Miss Lisa’s ice cream sign, old Rt. 31, Perrysburg, Michigan” By John Margolies, The Library of Congress

“My Joints Hurt And Other Fascinating Topics Of Conversation” By Margaret Crocker

 

MY JOINTS HURT
AND OTHER FASCINATING TOPICS OF CONVERSATION

So.

This is what it’s come to.
You
and me,
green tea
and a free association of maladies.

You cannot know how sick I am,
the pain I feel,
the woes I have.

But, hey,
here’s a dirty joke to make it better.

All laugh.
I cough.
You sweat.
We both sigh,
and limp
ever closer
to the finish line.

 

About the Author: Margaret Crocker is an artist, writer, wife, mother, daughter, sister and thief. She collects stray animals and has this weird fantasy of being on The Great British Baking Show, despite the fact she uses a bread machine. She knows little but proclaims much. There is much we don’t know about her.

 

More By Margaret Crocker

“The Art of Acquiescence”

“Earth, Air, and Lynda Carter”

“Mental Health Portraits”

 

Image Credit: “Dance of Death: The Doctor” Hans Holbein (The Cleveland Museum of Art)

 

Two Prose Poems By Mike James

 

Moving Again

Not everything fits on the back of my motorcycle. For instance, neither my pet cactus nor my roommate cat travel well. Both claw me considerably in different ways. And my bike is not large. It’s the small engine type I never grew out of.

Thomas De Quincey knew it was time to move when no more books would fit on shelves and when bill collectors came more often than meals. I know it’s time when someone tells me. My jokes worn thinner than the cheapest tissue paper, which won’t absorb more than a shot glass of tears.

 

Gutter Angels

Identify not by wings, which mostly stay jacket-hidden, but by sadness which serves as eyeliner. Also, by any buffalo penny worn as a pendant. If wings are seen, feathers are frequently oily. Often a few lost on alley bets and during sidewalk waltzes. Be warned: when they crack their knuckles dreams escape. Mice can hear it. And dogs who so often come and happily lick their hands.

 

About the Author: Mike James is the author of eleven poetry collections. His most recent books include: First-Hand Accounts From Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule Press) Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He has previously served as associate editor for both The Kentucky Review and Autumn House Press. After years spent in South Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, he now makes his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his large family and a large assortment of cats.

 

More By Mike James

“Grace”

“Two Ghazals”

“Two Prose Poems”

 

Image Credit: “Barrel Cactus” C.R. Savage. (1870s) Digital Image Courtesy of the Getty Digital Collection

“Betty Doesn’t Know Who She Loves More” By Daniel Crocker

 

Betty Doesn’t Know Who She Loves More

Bruce is the sensitive type
a little nervous but
It’s nice when someone
really listens

Honestly, most of the time
she probably prefers him
Hulk tries, but his thoughts get
muddled. They go from rage
to depression and back again

But Bruce can be a little boring
at times with his talk of
quantum physics, cures and
medication

Hulk has something
and it’s not just the ripped
abs and cantaloupe biceps

Hulk once
knocked a man through
a wall for her

The man died

That says something, doesn’t it
That he would end everything
a man could possibly be so easily
wipe out a billion timelines

and maybe she just couldn’t
love one without the other

Both Bruce and Hulk
know their place
Neither are very happy with it
but it is what it is

and she knows something
they don’t. She knows they are in
love with each other. She couldn’t
force them to part. No, she’ll have both.
Thanks.

.

This poem appears in Daniel Crocker’s book Gamma Rays. For more information, check out this interview between our Managing Editor Chase Dimock and Daniel Crocker about his collection of Hulk inspired poetry.

.

About the Author: Daniel Crocker’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, Big Muddy, New World Writing, Stirring, Juked, The Chiron Review, The Mas Tequila Review and over 100 others. His books include Like a Fish (full length) and The One Where I Ruin Your Childhood (e-chap with thousands of downloads) both from Sundress Publications. Green Bean Press published several of his books in the ’90s and early 2000s. These include People Everyday and Other Poems, Long Live the 2 of Spadesthe novel The Cornstalk Man and the short story collection Do Not Look Directly Into Me. He has also published several chapbooks through various presses. His newest full length collection of poetry, Shit House Rat, was published by Spartan Press in September of 2017. Stubborn Mule Press published Leadwood: New and Selected Poems—1998-2018 in October 2018. He was the first winner of the Gerald Locklin Prize in poetry. He is the editor of The Cape Rock (Southeast Missouri State University) and the co-editor of Trailer Park Quarterly. He’s also the host of the podcast, Sanesplaining, about poetry, mental illness and nerd stuff.

“Dolly Floats” By Stephen Roger Powers

 

Dolly Floats

              2012

Pigeon Forge raised Dolly
up on eagle’s wings, and she flew
on those wings of an eagle while
the eagle stared down its nest at the front of the float
and followed it like a donkey after a carrot.
When the parade was over,
Dolly took the stairs through the eagle’s tail
feathers, and popped out the back
like an Easter egg.

              2013

Rocks, an inflatable dinghy, and fresco rapids
rushed forth a lifeguard station
with baywatchful Dolly waving a floatation
board and singing along to her own songs.
She lifted the hem of her red swim
skirt and blew one of the cherry
whistles sewn around it. Policemen
blocked the end where she got off,
so I traffic-sulked to Ole Smoky
Distillery, where I drowned
in samples of every flavor.

             2014

Ole Smoky was the first stop this year.
The guy in overalls who gave me free
cherries sanitized his hands
with White Lightnin’. By the time
I got to the parade, I was corned
for engine-and-ladder Dolly with blazing
spangle-sparkles on her hat.
Her nieces sat with fake
fireworks at the front of the roller-coaster
float. Some of Dolly’s hair stuck
in her lipstick. She pulled it free
and blew a kiss in one motion.

             2015

Dreams came true when Dolly, garnished in red
with gold trim, jack-in-the-boxed from a cake,
her great big yellow wig a flaming candle.
Her beefcake bodyguard hollered at the drone following.
It hovered off backwards like a scared puppy
because she posed her arms at it spread wide
for a picture. Sometimes I wonder if she gets tired
of waggling her hands this way, then that,
this way again, that way again.

            2016

My Tennessee cousin, some unknown
number of removes, called my new
Dollywood Gold Pass a roller coaster license.
The woman working the photo
booth took my picture for it a half-smile,
wind-disheveled second before I was ready. Six o’clock,
out paraded laced-up Dollyized lumberjack boots,
icepick heels more honed than usual. Dolly’s fashion
assistant fastened a seatbelt around Dolly’s waist.
A gristmill float or a riverboat float?
Depends how you looked at the paddle wheels
turning on each side. Blue and white
streamers were fluttery water fill-ins. Either way,
Dolly sat high enough to mark twain.

            2017

Antibiotics pinholed my right hip.
“If I take it easy do you think I could
go to Pigeon Forge on Friday
for Dolly’s annual parade?”
“No.”
Steroids pricked my left hip.
“But you don’t understand—”
“Absolutely not.”
No Dolly Parton on account of doctor’s orders.

             2018

Four months in advance Dolly
announces after 32 years grand
marshaling she will step
down. Social media smells
a conspiracy, because Dolly is guilty
of having stood between Lily and Jane
at the Emmys. Cal Ripken Jr.
will ride a mountain-mural
guitar. A giant baseball will roll
behind him. Maybe next year
the resonant frequency of everyone in the
world singing a Dolly song
at once will parade Dolly
out once more.

.

About the Author: Stephen Roger Powers started writing poetry almost twenty years ago to pass time in the middle of the night when he was too energized to sleep after coming off the stage in comedy clubs around the Midwest. He is the author of The Followers Tale and Hello, Stephen, both published by Salmon Poetry. Other work has appeared in 32 PoemsShenandoahThe Southern Poetry Anthology Volume V: GeorgiaRabbit Ears: TV Poems, and Stone, River, Sky: An Anthology of Georgia PoemsHe hasnt done stand-up in a long time, but every once in a while he finds avenues for the performer he was born to be. He was an extra in Joyful Noise with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, and he can be seen if you know just where to look.