How would you describe your pain? Stabbing? Aching? Sharp? Dull? I would describe mine as a skeletal tree with twisted limbs rattling in the wind. Every day seems a bad imitation of the day before. If I look ahead, I see myself walking on corpses instead of the ground, and if I look back, I see night and fog, and my father angrily clenching the steering wheel and my mother locked in cold silence beside him, while alone in the backseat, I watch through the side window the black-veiled moon follow us home.
About the Author: Howie Good’s latest poetry book is The Horse Were Beautiful (2022), available from Grey Book Press. Redhawk Publications is publishing his collection, Swimming in Oblivion: New and Selected Poems, later this year.
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
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)
How I longed to be picked
3rd grade 1953,
Mrs. Balzoni’s classroom.
Finally after math,
she wiped off the blackboard
releasing our minds to
drift out the windows
into afternoon light
or to plan our way home.
someone would be asked
to dust the erasers outside.
And today that someone
would be that quiet kid
sitting in the back—Me.
Delight streamed from my face
as I gathered them up
8 erasers into the grocery bag.
Out in the cold without a jacket
I began clapping them together hard
mittens making white clouds
of dust into playground air.
Coughing wildly I began pounding them
against the building’s brick.
When Gretchen came out to fetch me,
she yelled, “Oh, no! You can’t do that.
It’s against the rules.” I looked around
at my beautiful design, each pat
a brick of white. “She’s gonna kill you!”
she said and disappeared. I laughed,
then cried a little, as I took off my shirt
and began to erase.
About the Author: Larry Smith, director of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio. Smith is from the industrial Ohio Valley and a professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University with over a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and memoir.