Diane Kendig: Searching For The Rosetta Stone

 SEARCHING FOR THE ROSETTA STONE

                  “He re-examined with pleasure the luminous 
                    yellow, green, red little jars.” 
                  -Nabokov, Signs and Symbols

I couldn't find it in the British Museum, under renovation--
just representations, like "The Rosetta Stone" postcard
at a makeshift gift shop of two by fours in a hallway.  
Until then, I had imagined a scalloped round
like the Notre Dame window, but opaque and blocking some tomb,
promising secrets to marauders if they'd go away.

From the postcard caption, I learned it began as homage to Ptolemy, 
like a trilingual billboard announcing,
"What a great guy our mayor is! Signed, the Mayor's Cabinet."
Rosetta Stone scarves, notepads, and a two-dollar eraser 
(white glyphs on black rubber), abounded too, at an airport gift shop,
making me think there had to be more. 

Back home online
I found a hundred seventy-one sites, like one 
on Rosetta Stone, the new leader of Gothic Rock,
influenced by the Headrops of Parma, Italy and another,
the publisher of Erotic Film Guide, Hottest Gay Male Site,
and Hot & Sexy Mature Women.

I found the Rosetta Stone Language Library 
with its life-sized stone photo, a review of je tuil elle,
"a cinematic Rosetta Stone of female sexuality," 
the Cleopatra recording artist, Rosetta Stone, 
and a link to the British Museum page about
that famous stone dug up at one site by Champollin--

but nothing on where in the museum it stands for real.
I skim one hundred sixty-three sites more, one side of the world
then the other, meaning less all the time,
as though too many jars shone stickily from the shelf,
preserves, and not jelly, too thick to see through.		

About the Author: Diane Kendig‘s latest book is Woman with a Fan. Her writing has appeared in J JournalWordgatheringValparaiso Review, and other journals. She ran a prison writing workshop in Ohio for 18 years, and now curates the Cuyahoga County Public Library weblog, Read + Write. Her website is dianekendig.com

Image Credit: “A picture of the Rosetta Stone, in a high contrast, readable format” Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

Cameron Morse: “Memorial Day”

Memorial Day

A cousin tags me in the photo 
of the tombstone. It’s my name 
in liquid granite, not his, 
though neither of us are expected 
to live long, I expect I will
outlive him. Is that why I hide 
the photo from my profile? Do I 
see my face reflected in glass?
Am I afraid to go the way of my 
grandparents? That they might be 
lying in wait, robbers ready to 
spring out and seize me 
by the shoulders? Morning after 
Memorial Day I hide the photo 
I’m tagged in, tuck away the reminder 
to die in a loose digital sheaf 
and go on gassing up my lungs
with oxygen. Rain deafens the house 
I sit in. Great swells of white noise 
ocean waves gather and disperse. 
My wife and children are sound asleep
sleep the sounder for this. 
I examine the stone. Close my eyes 
and listen to the rain. 

About the Author: Cameron Morse (he, him) is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City-Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and three children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.    

Image Credit: Unknown Photographer “Clouds” (1871) Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program.

Tiffany Troy: “Wedding-bound Million-Dollar Dream”

Wedding-bound Million-Dollar Dream

I.

While people around me are getting married and having kids,
I am chained to the bottom of the sea.
“A start,” they say. What fools they are, like you.
I’ll get married before you, that’s for sure. I’ll go: “Excuse me,

Stranger, won’t you marry me?” (I have a bet
I need to win.) Just as your daddy and mommy
won’t let you marry your rich childhood friend a caste below you,
Master, as Aeneas did, dreams of resuscitating a lost dynasty,

which is difficult because his “busted” deposition
sounds like “bastard.” I was going to write back
“Bastard is not part of Master’s lexicon,” award-winning
Bullshit Artist that I am. Bounced between Master who says if only 

he was me, and School filled with 
pricks who teach me Shame, my World shimmers 
with lunacy. Come morning, Master will fill the bathtub with water
waking me up alongside my million-dollar dreams, bubbling.

	

II.

When I hear the water thunder, I do not give thanks. 
I curse pink-puckered dawn, who mocks us for still not knowing
the Rules of the Game at the back 
of our hands. They call us “incompetent,”

“not duly diligent,” and “inadequate.” As the water
runs through me, I struggle to meet and confer
with one jerk after the other as you wait
for “please understand” to KO tenderly.

When the phoenix rises, we will no longer be pariah
pinned to the wall for our lousy copy-and-pasted work.
The troubadours will not sing of Master texting 
the Defendants’ counsel about “shaking the mango tree.”

At nine p.m., unbillably, I play you weird animal music 
before marching you to the 7 train
as you joke how each case is a million-dollar case
and I how this is my first walk outside of the Office.


III.

I swear—soon—we’ll leave
evil ladies tugging at men’s shirts behind
garbage bags in treeless streets
and go to your home in India, where the summer is even hotter

than the hellfire of New York.
It’ll only take a case or two under the largess of judges who ought to be on meds
for me to sit in the front row as your VIP,  
all beaming in giving my Emma Woodhouse speech.

Then we will live happily ever after. That is, once troubles
worse than Achilles'
can be fought by lesser mercenaries,
Master will not dump me

for his trainloads of girlfriends
prettier and younger than I am,
leaving me alone with 
my million-dollar dreams.

About the Author: Tiffany Troy is an interviewer and reviewer. Her interviews and reviews are published/ forthcoming from The Adroit Journal, The Cortland Review, The Los Angeles Review, EcoTheo Review, and Tupelo Quarterly, where she serves as an associate editor.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Lemur Food” (2021)

Cheryl A. Rice: “Ashtray”

Ashtray

Paper and foil, relic from a time when 
hospitality meant accommodating smokers, 
waited for us in Pennsylvania, Mom and Pop diner
that serves pierogis like other places
dish up hash browns or white toast. 

You were still a smoker then, rolled your own, 
pure tobacco from pale blue cans, 
Indian silhouette on the front 
reassuring us of its sincerity. 
I would wake to the sound of your little machine
sliding back and forth, ka-thuk, ka-thuk, 
assembling your supply for the day.

It was already illegal to smoke in New York
unless you were fifty feet from anywhere. 
Even restaurants lousy with smoke eaters were forbidden. 
But here in Scranton, the place your people put down roots, 
you could sit back, tap your homemade ash 
into the proper receptacle, or your empty coffee cup, 
but that’s bad manners, as we recalled. 

Despite second-hand warnings, 
I inhaled the smoke, 
romantic intoxicant, nostalgic pollutant, 
Marlboro mornings, Lemon Pledge afternoons,
childhood nights around the color console, 
hair and teeth and t-shirts next day 
reeking like the butts in that dish, 
emptied infrequently as all the good miners
have gone to seed.

About the Author: Cheryl A. Rice’s poems have appeared in Home Planet News, Misfit Magazine, and Trailer Park Quarterly, among others. Recent books include Love’s Compass (Kung Fu Treachery Press), and Until the Words Came (Post Traumatic Press), coauthored with Guy Reed. Her blog is at: http://flyingmonkeyprods.blogspot.com/. Rice lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Image Credit: Louis Fleckenstein “Portrait of a Man Smoking Cigarette” Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program.

George Freek: “Night Conversations”

NIGHT CONVERSATIONS (After Mei Yao Chen)

I watch a chilly night arrive.
Leaves die on the trees,
unable to survive.
Will I be afraid when
it’s my turn to die?
I tell myself words 
that are probably lies.
Clouds solid as mountains
disappear from the sky.
Death is as mysterious
as is life to me.
I talk to my cat. He’s
concerned with a worm.
He’s incredibly wise.
He pays no attention
when I tell him my lies.

About the Author: George Freek’s poetry has appeared in numerous Journals and Reviews. His poem “Written At Blue Lake” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Image Credit: Alfred William Finch An August’s Night (1898) Image courtesy of Artvee

Leslie M. Rupracht: “The Night I Lost My Souvenir Bucket Hat”

The Night I Lost My Souvenir Bucket Hat 
	
  —Exhibition Game, August 8, 1977 
      MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse, New York
 
We three—
Dad, little brother, and nine-year-old me—
watched from the low-rise, general admission bleachers 
beside right field, a long walk to the concession stand 
and nowhere convenient to shelter from the rain, and 
it did rain that night we visited the ball park to see 
the New York Yankees rival their Triple-A farm club 
Syracuse Chiefs, who, after three innings, were ahead 
on the scoreboard before the rain delay, when Dad said 

the Yanks were letting the Chiefs win, rotating 
bench players while big name starters schmoozed 
at the fence-line, and luckily, that fence was close to 
us fans who sat in nowhere-land just to see our sports 
heroes because, let’s face it, we were there for 
the Major Leaguers anyway, our pounding pulses, 
giddy chatter, and broad grins underscoring delight in 
sort of meeting our favorite soon-to-be 
World Series Champs—

star hitter and right fielder Reggie Jackson, shortstop 
Bucky Dent, second baseman Willie Randolph, pitcher 
Ron Guidry, catcher Thurman Munson, among them—
signing autographs for more seasoned fans with 
the foresight to bring baseballs and ballpoints as 
we stood a mere Louisville Slugger’s length behind 
them, our eyes wide and jaws on the gravel, until 
the rain finally tapered off, antsy fans grew louder, 
and the umpire again declared,

Play ball! and when the ninth inning had barely ended—
the Chiefs having proudly trounced the Yanks 14-5—
our soggy trio mad-dashed through the crowd, Dad’s firm
hands guiding us kids by our shoulders to the restrooms 
for a pit stop, then onward to our trusty royal blue Ford 
van in the crowded parking lot, where I realized I’d lost 
my oft-worn, multi-colored Long Island Game Farm hat, 
too late to buy a Yankees ball cap and keepsake pen,
ask Mr. October to sign the not-yet-broken-in rim. 

About the Author: Leslie M. Rupracht has poems appearing or forthcoming in Aeolian Harp, Asheville Poetry Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Chiron Review, K’in, The Ekphrastic Review, Gargoyle, Anti-Heroin Chic, Kakalak, a chapbook, Splintered Memories (Main Street Rag), and elsewhere. Editor, poet, writer, visual artist, and rescued pit bull mama, Leslie cofounded and hosts the monthly reading series, Waterbean Poetry Night at the Mic, in Huntersville, NC (on Facebook/Instagram @WaterbeanPoetryNightattheMic).

Image Credit: Russell Lee “Night baseball, Marshall, Texas” (1939) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Cord Moreski: “Casual Friday”

Casual Friday


When the evening arrives
John next door goes by 
the name Lady Flamingo 

and puts away the expensive suit 
for a dress with sequins and feathers

hides his neatly combed hair 
beneath curls of a pink wig 

and trades in the quietness of his dress shoes 
for the authority of eight-inch heels

he works business in the city by day 
until business becomes hers by night.

This morning I hold the entrance door 
for him while we both leave for work 

sporting another Brooks Brothers suit 
he tells me it’s Casual Friday 
as he points to the pink flamingo on his tie.

About the Author: Cord Moreski is a poet from the Jersey Shore. Moreski is the author of Confined Spaces (Two Key Customs, 2022), The News Around Town (Maverick Duck Press, 2020), and Shaking Hands with Time (Indigent Press, 2018). When he is not writing, Cord waits tables for a living and teaches middle school children that poetry is awesome. His next chapbook Apartment Poems will be released by Between Shadows Press in late 2022. You can follow Cord here: www.cordmoreski.com

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “LA Flamingo” (2021)

Beth Kanell: “Do the Next Right Thing”

Do the Next Right Thing

Between the calendar and the task list, most mornings
I’m chasing paper before my first cup of tea. Or paper
is chasing me—sheets of it rustling, as if a breeze woke
at the sound of my alarm, rising, gusting across the desk

flicking the edges of the note I wrote last night: Plant seeds.
Clean the tub. Buy more oats, milk, butter, life. Wait!
I remind the page, “You can’t buy more life.” The breeze laughs.
Across the room, the calendar rustles in amusement.

I really don’t think it’s funny. I talk back. I argue. My tea
that steamed in its sturdy green mug gives up, chills out,
and a stray tear sneaks down my right cheek. Only one
way to keep love alive: Plant more seeds. Let something

tender, something vulnerable, something miraculous
(none of which could ever describe paper) grow.

About the Author: Beth Kanell lives in northeastern Vermont, with a mountain at her back and a river at her feet. Poet, novelist, historian, and memoirist, she shares her research and writing process at BethKanell.blogspot.com. Her novels include This Ardent Flame, The Long Shadow (SPUR Award winner), The Darkness Under the Water, The Secret Room, and Cold Midnight; her short fiction shows up in Lilith and elsewhere; and she takes pleasure in documenting life stories of older Vermonters in features in the North Star Monthly. Look for her memoirs on Medium, and her mystery reviews at the New York Journal of Books.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Small Bloom” (2022)

Jon Bennett: “Winter Apples”

Winter Apples

The powdery mildew killed my eyes
but I’d climb it anyhow
an ancient Gravenstein
with a pine tar patch
in the vee of two trunks
My dad’s friend was a jazz guitarist
and a tree surgeon
to my kid ears ‘tree surgeon’
was as good as Dr.
he did the patch
and later died of vodka poisoning
in his mobile home
I picked up the guitar myself
and wondered what dad thought about it
My dad and the tree
look worse each year
sooty blotch and flyspeck
liver spots and basal carcinomas
but big, sweet Gravensteins
as if the tree knows
these are the last
they’ll ever have.

About the Author: Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find his work on most music streaming sites as well as here. His new chapbook, Leisure Town, is available on Amazon here.

Image Credit: Image originally from The apples of New York Albany :J.B. Lyon,1905. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library