There were only insulation dreams while we lived in the tar paper shack down by the old steel mill on the other side of the river. The river no longer burst into flame, but now and then wild roses along the river’s edge made us think of fire. Our fingers would rub the insides of our pockets looking for matches. We never thought to sell matches to the men who spent their days in alleys and empty lots beside upright oil drums. We gave away what we had when asked. There were no threats. Our code name was never apathy. This was true even at night when we prayed with a penny in our mouths. All our prayers lasted more than a minute. The trick was to keep the penny on the tip of your tongue.
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.
The History of Rivers
a car with one headlight
bobs and weaves its way through the mud
looking for a pair of missing glasses
what good are they anyway
we can never see where we’re going
only where we’ve been
floods of emotion like this
are only supposed to happen once a century
but we can’t see our way past the rocks
everything only seems to come into focus
after we get out of the water
& raise a glass to the spirits
resting in capsized riverboats
that you’ll never find squinting in the sunlight
listening to the words of that lonesome whippoorwill
singing some far fetched river song.
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 email@example.com.
Image Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston “Potomac River” (1898) Public domain image courtesy of The Library of Congress
I remember the royal river a bleached skeleton, bones calloused and raw these forever miles the only skin left attached vermont rain soaked halos glow dry in cold july sunshine
I remember the royal river mile long rutted driveways a peninsula that breaks into islands, black flies tall grass and hippie mansions lost to the grid I shake rain tent flaps drying out in turrets as backgammon days passed picking ticks off golden retrievers
I remember the royal river the maine granite coast lone trees clawing to hold the rocks along the atlantic, ice cold showers this gaunt face in a tide pool
I remember the royal river tequila on the docks fortification for a last days boogie gather these atoms south with notions of sacco and vanzetti
I remember the royal river as a skeleton with a compass left in place of memory
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 actually is the physical manifestation of Pittsburgh. Although unsure of either, he does love wandering the country writing poems. His newest books include: A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press), The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) and A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010-2020 (Kung Fu Treachery). He also has a forthcoming book with James Benger called This Still Life. His work has been widely across print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lp’s by The Gotobeds and Theremonster.