Ace Boggess: “End of the Fence”

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Extremely old wooden fence in the town of San Elizario, near El Paso.

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End of the Fence

Strong winds. A pillar leans.
A beam descends on one side,
angling toward a motorcycle ramp
for squirrels launching themselves
toward flimsy branches.
Wire mesh, loosened, waves
like a nationless flag.

Here is the ruin, lapsing:
all that’s built crumbles,
no matter words spoken,
savior speed-dialed on the phone.

What seemed sturdy all those years
shares news of broken lumber
while the boastful, constant sky
promises other storms, graceless
as madcap dancers in the mud.

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About the Author: Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, River Styx, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.

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More by Ace Boggess:

Rock Garden

And Why Am I A Free Man?

Why Did You Try To Sober Up?

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Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Extremely old wooden fence in the town of San Elizario, near El Paso, Texas” (2014) The Library of Congress

Marissa Perez: “Shark Smile”

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Shark Smile 

Saturday night out and
I swallow an oyster⸺
adductor muscle, pericardial cavity, party-streamer gills⸺
I have no intention of
consuming the shell, so
I leave it empty and
winking with the sheen of departed
intestine.

How absence is also presence
with serrated teeth so
pretty they can be looped
around my summer-nipped
neck
in beachfront gift shops⸺
Shed
from their host
when they puncture prey and
cannot tear the meat off
clean.

If I had been born with
a body that ended at my collarbones
and with a mouth
less sophisticated than
a bivalve’s
I would have never
been desired
only respected

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About the Author: Marissa Perez is an undergraduate student from Massachusetts. She became the 97th recipient of the Glascock Poetry Prize in 2020 and has appeared in Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature.

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Image Credit: Image from: Iconografia della fauna italica Roma: Tip. Salviucci,1832-1841. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ruth Hoberman: “Planaria”

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Planaria 

Over pie, Len talks about worms. Dice them,
he says, and each regrows its missing parts!  

His eyes glow under tangled brows, entranced
by immortality. I picture eyeless

mouths groping for their eyes and mouthless eyes
their mouths. Hungry for their hunger, old

in need of new. We’re old, our gray hair wild
and worried as brambles clinging to a cliff.

The question is where to look. He looks for doors
from body into bliss or second chances—dicing

as self-renewal? recycling as lizard or crow?
Anything to start again. I fork a peach wedge

on my plate. Sweet in my mouth the slice,
the talk with friends.

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About the Author: Ruth Hoberman mainly lives in Chicago. She writes poetry and essays, which have been published in such places as RHINO, Calyx, Smartish Pace, Naugatuck River Review, and Ploughshares.

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Image Credit: Image from The Great Barrier Reef of Australia;. London :W.H. Allen,[1893]. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Gerald Friedman: “A Race of the Red-tailed Hawk”

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A Race of the Red-tailed Hawk 

Audubon shot a hawk,
mostly black-brown.  Painting it
while it still lived, he said,
he chocolate-covered its white marks,
tidied its tail pattern,
not thinking both were typical.
He wrote tall stories:
his specimen bred in Louisiana,
feared him only when he carried his gun.
He baptized it in Latin
after his friend Dr. Harlan;
in English, “Black Warrior”,
maybe something good to have
dying or dead
to be depicted as he saw fit.

Morning frost by the Rio Grande.
All summer Harlan’s, black or rare white,
glided down from Alaska
in my mind.  Now
a red-tail screams. At me?
I sneak, a commando,
to capture it with my camera,
barely disturbing
fragile cottonwood leaves.
By some occult sense
it feels me, flies, straight
as limbs slip by.  Out of view.
But I’ll call it a Harlan’s,
tail white constellated in black.
A stereotypical birdwatcher,
I’m already checking my pictures.
One shot caught that tail,
so I’ll get an accepted sighting.

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About the Author: Gerald Friedman grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, and now teaches physics in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  He has published poetry in various magazines, recently Rat’s Ass Review, Entropy, The Daily Drunk, and Better Than Starbucks.

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Image Credit: Plate 86 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting “Black Warrior Falco harlani” Public Domain

Lorraine Henrie Lins: “Pelican”

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Pelican  

I see it
just as he catches its scent.
He drops the tennis ball
and I know
by the distant shape it’s a bird,  a
large one left by this morning’s tide.

The dog
stills his body and tail
and I expect him to paw it,
test it
with his teeth as he does
with fish heads,
driftwood, crab shells—

instead,
he leans forward,
snuffles its parted, flat eyes
and hovers
whisker-close over the tangled
feathers and tide-kinked wings,
elongated in a mid-flight mien,

lingers
the length of its body
and breathes in the brine-cleaned
wound on its neck and sits.
I re-clip his leash,
give short leading tugs
but again he stills, pulls
against the command
and waits.

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About the Author: Lorraine Henrie Lins is a Pennsylvania county Poet Laureate and author of four books of poetry: All the Stars Blown to One Side of The Sky, I Called It Swimming, Delaying Balance and most recently, 100 Tipton.  She serves as the Director of New and Emerging Poets with Tekpoet and is a founding member of the “No River Twice” improvisational poetry troupe.  Lins’ work appears in wide variety of familiar publications and collections, as well as on a small graffiti poster in New Zealand. Born and raised in the suburbs of Central New Jersey, the self-professed Jersey Girl now resides along the coast of North Carolina.  www.LorraineHenrieLins.com

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More by Lorraine Henrie Lins:

OST DOG

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Sleeping Pelicans” (2020)

John Grey: “Bat In the Attic”

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Bat in the Attic

It was no bird trapped in the attic
but a bat.
And the bat knew exactly
what it was doing,
where it was going.
Why risk a chilly winter’s night in the wild
when it can somehow infiltrate
a warm human space.

To be honest,
I’d have preferred mice
though rats would be a different story.
But a mouse can be caught and released
with no guilt on either side.
But I’ve no dominion over flying mammals.
Waving a broom in its direction,
I felt like a man with a sword
up against another with a pistol.
Besides, I have an unnatural fear of bats
and it knew it.
And my armory was merely household implements.
It had folklore on its side.

Eventually, it left of its own accord.
I have no idea how it got in,
how it got out.
At least it didn’t bite me,
turn me into a vampire.
I wasn’t undead,
merely unsatisfied, unavailing
and a little unhinged.

It was no bird trapped in that attic.
For all my false bravado,
I was.

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About the Author: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and International Poetry Review.

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More By John Grey: 

Move On

Downsizing

Maud

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Image Credit: Image from Illustrations of the zoology of South Africa : London : Smith, Elder and Co.,1849. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Sterling Warner: “Ebb & Flow”

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Ebb & Flow

I.
Amber beer bottles
back floating on turbid tides
some corked carrying messages
most reduced to glass shards,
razor sharp edges rounded
by the selfsame sand thrust
over rocks, against cliff faces,
around feet wading shoals.

II.
Bull whip kelp wash ashore
after tempests, sunburned beach combers
pop bulb-like heads before gathering
long tentacles, cracking them
like riding crops or cat-o’-nine tails,
flagellating sandcastles & sunbathers
knowing pliable algae’d harmlessly flog
friends & objects of their joyful aggression.

III.
Children tip-toe through flotsam jetsam
scrawl their names in the wet shoreline
place star fish in piles surrounding them
with sea urchins & periwinkle shells
as waves roll in, their creations melt
into a watery fray & they scream
as salty ice hands clutch youthful ankles,
& horseshoe crabs pierce naked feet.

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About the Author: A Washington- based author, poet, educator, word-lover, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as  Ekphrastic ReviewA 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, The Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine, 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 (2022)—as well as. Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories. Currently, he writes, hosts virtual poetry readings, and enjoys retirement. 

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Image Credit:  Chase Dimock “Seagulls at Sunset” (2020)

John Macker: “Epilogue”

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Epilogue

A pair of Cooper’s hawks
dive and explode the air
cleave the sky into uncharted territories
a frenzied cincture
a momentary communion that

admits the ground to the heavens
this first fresh autumn day has dissent
written all over it ⸺
wildflowers retreat defeated colors
fade into the middle of the earth again.

Looking up, grace is just myth rewired
silence broken into a million feathers
the practical hours and tamed
rivers lay beyond us just over
the Jemez mountains, I’m sure.

As swiftly and immodestly as they arrive
they vanish, their rhythms survive them
standing here in endangered open space
lone unknown interlocutor
their aromatic wind still in my face.

The words we say to each other now
are spirits in freefall, they search my
mind for place a holding pattern
how can the human heart remain sedentary?
Abandoned fabric of the sky they once

nuanced unravels      they won’t share the secrets
of being in the mystery      lizard bivouacked near
my boot, blinks away the sun’s engorged sparks
harvest moon rises like oblivious burning desire
an insatiable eye     a mute witness.

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About the Author: John Macker grew up in Colorado and has lived in northern New Mexico for 25 years. He has published 13 full-length books and chapbooks of poetry, 2 audio recordings, an anthology of fiction and essays, and several broadsides over 30 years. His most recent are Atlas of Wolves, The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away, Selected Poems 1983-2018, (a 2019 Arizona/New Mexico Book Awards finalist), Desert Threnody, essays and short fiction (winner of the 2021 Arizona/New Mexico Book Awards fiction anthology prize), El Rialto, a short prose memoir and Chaco Sojourn, short stories, (both illustrated by Leon Loughridge and published in limited edition by Dry Creek Art Press.) In 2019, his poem “Happiness” won a Fischer Poetry Prize finalist citation, sponsored by the Telluride Institute.

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More by John Macker:

Last Riff for Chet

Abundance

Nostalgia Poem

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Sandia Peak, New Mexico” (2021)

Paul Jones: “Magnificent Frigatebirds”

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Magnificent Frigatebirds

Who loosed these bright red balloons,
these breeze drifting drops of blood,
ripe fruit of mangrove clusters,
regents of the rookeries?
They dive to tease the manatees,
to take aloft flying fish,
to torment both gulls and terns,
to tear apart jellyfish.
We paddle near to their nests.
We can see their fragile legs
counter their broad sail of wings.
Nature seen in such detail
has so much magnificence.
Their height-hidden mysteries
are brought down near earth’s surface,
to the tight bundles of brush
where a fledgling tests his wings.
We can see now that he is
sky hungry. Almost ready.
Hear his beak’s impatient clack?
He will soar but never sing.
To be this close to flying
is what it means to be young.

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About the Author:  Paul Jones has published poetry in many journals including Poetry, Adirondack Review, Red Fez, Broadkill Review and here in As It Ought To Be as well as in cookbooks, in travel anthologies, in collections about passion, love, and in The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 – Present (from Scribner). Recently, he was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Web Awards. His chapbook is What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common. A manuscript of his poems crashed on the moon’s surface in 2019. His book, Something Wonderful, is now available from RedHawk Publications (and your favorite bookstore). Also in November 2021, Jones will be inducted into the NC State Computer Science Hall of Fame. Jones is Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers Network and a member of the Carrboro Poets Council.

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More by Paul Jones:

Something Wonderful

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Image Credit: Image from La galerie des oiseaux Paris, Constant-Chantpie,1825-1826. Public domain image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Sarah Carleton: “Buzzards”

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Buzzards

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On the highest branch of the tallest tree
after the rain, they open their bent-umbrella
wings and claim breezes
till they’re dry enough to puff

and then loom, black-hole sentries
surveying the neighborhood,
consolidating all the world’s shadow
and leaving the light for us.

II
Three vultures grip the top of the fence,
peering at the yard behind ours,
shrunken heads

stuck to a bad smell,
charcoal coats tucked close
like Dickensian funeral directors.

III
The driveway flickers
with hawks and buzzards circling,
waiting for us to leave.

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About the Author: Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and makes her husband laugh in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

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Image Credit: Image from The birds of North America New York, U.S.A. Published under the auspices of the Natural Science Association of America, 1895, c1888. Public domain image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library.