Susan Cossette: “The Bones Know”

The Bones Know

 
Mama orders beef shank for soup.
I shuffle small feet on the butcher’s sawdust floor,
wishing for that elusive marbled steak.

Gramma Erzebet and I chop carrots and celery
then quarter the parsnips and turnips.

Dolgozz tovább, Zsuzsu.
Keep working, Suzie.

We watch the flesh bubble from the bones
in her cast iron pot and know
we will have supper for days.

Later, the cats lick slick grey bones
tossed on the yellow and green linoleum.

Come May, Mama and I plant pink impatiens by the porch.
Knees pressed into the newly warm earth,
we discover discarded bones of slain birds and mice.

My bones remember every place I go.
Each taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound,
every memory buried in spongy marrow.

About the Author: Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, The New York Quarterly, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press) and Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press).

Image Credit: François Bonvin “Still Life” (1858) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

John Dorsey: “At 45”

At 45

i have no time for rebellion
so i’ll take what comes easily
the sun hanging
over brown grass
like a clenched fist
a broken wine glass
in the sink since february
selling a better story
than any of us
can afford
a wolf spider climbing
a broken down amazon box
like sir edmund hillary
atop some snow covered peak
of desolation & boredom
worn out vinyl
recorded as rain fell on seattle
like the blood of the roman dead
in another lifetime
of raised voices & passionate song
where for a few seconds
we all get to feel young again.


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), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2021) and Sundown at the Redneck Carnival, (Spartan Press, 2022).. 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.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Cactus Patch in Joshua Tree” (2021)

Mike James: “Questions and Answers”

About the Author: Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog.) In April, Red Hawk published his 20th collection, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Malibu Sunset” (2022)

Ruth Bavetta: “A Year Turned Upside Down”

A Year Turned Upside Down

Almost all of fall evaporated
in a flurry of sun. Mayweed’s stars 
immobilized by an embarrassment of heat. 

Come January, gardenias shot into scent,
clivia burst into a conflagration 
of orange. With winter annihilated,

spring spiraled into the disingenuous 
sugar of summer, sage withered, 
chaparral seethed in a flash of flame.

About the Author: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have appeared in North American Review, Nimrod, Rattle, Slant, American Journal of Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. She likes the light on November afternoons, the music of Stravinsky, the smell of the ocean. She hates pretense, fundamentalism and sauerkraut.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “California Mayweed” (2022)

Brian Boies “Cod Flashes”

Cod Flashes

Catch and release
but first, after
the flapping stops,
pull a paint-dripping brush
tight down both
sides of its body.
White to teach
a lesson about survival 
to it and
everyone who sees.

Highly visible
through the muck,
it will travel
far south, 
far north
hugging the river’s top ice
until the danger has passed.

I am painted white inside,
my muscles only know taught.
Different doctors say 
this shouldn’t be happening
to someone my age.
Why so wired
and meditation only makes it worse.
I am counting down.

Cod arrives
at its camouflage destination.
Maybe safe
but ghosts are also white.

Three sheets I layer
to cover the ice,
I too have found a home here.

A red fish fibrillates
inside me.
Seize,
unseize.
With a whimper,
arythma.

If the ghost is me,
if the ghost is which part of me,
fish can fellowship
and compare our woes of white.
Maybe the ghost will be only my mind
and haunting is a boast
of finally free.

But before,
we will sleep
me on these stacked sheets,
the cod, bobbing in the current,
exactly below
my meekly knocking heart.

About the Author: Brian Ed Boies lived by train tracks and transcribed train graffiti and used it as prompts.  This poem is from that process. He has been published by the National Endowment of the Arts and in Punk Planet and ZYZZYVA. A story of his was listed as Notable Nonrequired Reading in 2012. He lives in Sacramento with his wife and daughter.

Image Credit: Public Domain image originally from The history of esculent fish London: Printed for Edward Jeffrey [etc.],1794. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

LB Sedlacek: “Armor”

Armor

A dime
shiny silver
in the pocket
a gold fish
shiny orange
has no memory
a penny
dull brown
by the creek
a tub
shiny metal
full of water
the dime
for emergencies
making a call
the goldfish
for training
to motivate kids
the penny
unused unimportant
left to disappear
the tub
for drowning
whatever is unwanted.

About the Author: LB Sedlacek has had poems and stories appear in “Impspired,” “River Dog,” “Hill Rag,” “Inverse Journal,” and “Iconoclast.”  Her short stories “Sight Unseen”  and “Backwards Wink” were awarded 1st Place Prose prizes in “Branches Literary Magazine.” For 20 years, she published the free resource for poets, “The Poetry Market Ezine.” LB also likes to swim and read.

Image Credit: Public domain image originally from Goldfish breeds and other aquarium fishes, their care and propagation. Philadelphia :Innes & sons (1908) Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Jason Ryberg: “Passion Flowers and Puzzle Boxes”

Passion Flowers and Puzzle Boxes


Scientists and poets alike have yet to find 
whether certain experimental hybridizations 
of radio waves and silver go-go boots in any way
affects the erratic trajectories of UFOs.

Though, they now know that the geometry of fireflies 
may have some influence over the delicate symbiosis 
of communication satellites, train yards 
and Blue Turtle migrations.

However, despite recent controversial reports
there has been no independent confirmation
on whether the random arrangement
of orange blossoms on a city sidewalk, 
slick with rain, has any more relation 
to the performance of a North Korean 
featherweight in the 9th than 
a performance of Beethoven’s 9th
by the South Korean Philharmonic does
to the discovery of designs 
for a steam-driven engine 
written on papyrus.

But, one doesn’t need a steady diet
of coral calcium deposits or subterranean
cold-storage of arcane information
to see that a cracked engine block
is bound, cosmically, 
to a crack-baby found
behind a dumpster in an alley
(alive and doing well we’re told),

that beauty-parlor patter is richly infused
with important information regarding escape artistry,
living in the desert, the number “0” AND, 
stealing household appliances 
(specifically, toaster-ovens, it seems)

and, most importantly, 
that a strangely warm winter-breeze
witnessed stirring a light bulb
hanging on the end of a string
will eventually result in a brilliant idea
unfolding like a passionflower or 
Chinese puzzle box of infinite digression 
somewhere down the integer line 

of an, as yet, undetermined causal chain.

About the Author: Jason Ryberg is the author of eighteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both 
The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is The Great American Pyramid Scheme (co-authored with W.E. Leathem, Tim Tarkelly and Mack Thorn, OAC Books, 2022). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

Image Credit: The American flora. v.1 New York :Hull & Spencer,1855. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Carolyn Sperry: “Updates from Sour Lake”

Updates from Sour Lake


In Kansas there is still the prairie:
we saw sheep being trucked away
down the interstate, their baby faces white and moony
as they slipped and rattled in the steel.
At a rest stop, birds warbled ancient sets of sounds.
Then, at night, the grassland was so flat
a clear dome of stars went unbroken to the rim of land.

In California the mountains
were hard against the sky, with organic foothills—
rolls and tucks and crotches 
green and stretched out, an ongoing body.

In Arizona we picked through purple and green rocks,
wary of scorpions, looking for gemstones in the sandy soil.
On the way back to the motel with the kidney-shaped pool
we saw someone slam his Jeep into a solid wall of rock. 

We called 911. 
For a split second, I said, I thought there was another road he was going down.
The cop nodded. The man hadn’t made it.   

After a shitty fight in Texas, 
I left myself at a gas station, but we didn't go back.
He* and I stayed together long enough to see a massive sinkhole.
It ate away at the land – it felt like the whole town might disappear.

*He could make the sound of a mourning dove,
breathing through his hands
like they were a flute,
fingers lifting away from each other
for the high notes.

About the Author: Carolyn Sperry is a freelance writer based in Rochester, NY. She has published articles in news outlets across the United States and is a winner of the Gotham Writers Stories Everywhere competition. She lives with her husband and two sons.

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “The pumps have long been dry at this little truck stop east of the town of Sabinol, Texas” (2014) The Library of Congress (public domain)

Richard Levine: “Playing at Forever”

Playing at Forever

The ocean never stops its tug of war 
with beach sand.  Its great democratic voice 
consumes all the laughter and whispered vows 
vacationers make on blankets, spread out

under brightly striped umbrellas under 
the sun and our tans that end where our suits
begin.  We have come as far away from 
our careers as a tide of untimed time

could take us, yet we find there is something
naggingly familiar in the way native 
children smile at us.  They coax us to throw
coins they dive for, perhaps their only real

freedom.  Resurfacing, their faces glow 
brightly as their palms lined with silver.
Our minds float above us like jellyfish,
permeating our days with stinging

responsibilities.  But here we are 
untethered from time’s twins, and our bodies 
ache to be calmed, cooled and retuned to whim.
We swim under water, holding our breath, 

carefree as children playing at forever,
though we know we must come up for air.

About the Author: Richard Levine, a retired NYC teacher, is the author of Selected Poems, Contiguous States, and five chapbooks.  Now in Contest is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. An Advisory Editor of BigCityLit.com, he received the 2021 Connecticut Poetry Society Award, and co-edited “Invasion of Ukraine 2022: Poems.”  “The Spoils of War” is forthcoming in American Book Review. website: richardlevine107.com

Image Credit: Herman Hartwich “Cape Cod, Beach” (1894) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Jason Baldinger: “cold water glistens”

cold water glistens

we were raw souls
we didn't know it
sapling catalpas roam
subtropical summer sidewalks
desperate for a breath
inside the walls of swelter 

there would be this electric 
buzz rattling in the air
of our childhood bedrooms
our teeth would chatter simultaneous
then we would be in the streets
in our shorts, our underroos
 
the local fireman opened
the plugs, the water rushed 
torrents along neighborhood curbs
all the kids were there
between parked car rapids
some feet in, some ass in
some attempt to swim
some erode into
the debris of the city
 
these little catalpas
inebriated in perfect equation
cold water glistens 
meets summer afternoon
a still life in eternity

About the Author: Jason Baldinger was recently told he looks like a cross between a lumberjack and a genie. He’s also been told he’s not from Pittsburgh but is the physical manifestation of Pittsburgh. Although unsure of either, he does love wandering the country writing poems. He’s penned fifteen books of poetry the newest of which include: The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) and A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010-2020 (Kung Fu Treachery), and This Still Life with James Benger. His work has appeared across a wide variety of print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lps by The Gotobeds and Theremonster.

Image Credit: Angelo Rizzuto “Young boy leaning on fire hydrant” The Library of Congress (public domain)