now there's two of us,
wing to wing and even,
after the paired columns
failed the sky and lost
the way through the clouds.
all we two choose to do
is watch the butterfly
with its horrible head
and wings so pink
against the yellow sky,
and sing to keep the winds
light, and pray within
the notes we bring
the wing dust there
to guide them home
will ever stay while
all else melts away.
This poem was written for the surprise ekphrastic challenge on birds.
John Riley lives in North Carolina, where he works in educational publishing. His fiction and poetry have appeared in several print and electronic journals, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Willows Wept Review, Loch Raven Review, Dead Mule, and Blue Five Notebook. He can be reached at email@example.com.
What looks like something alive without skin becomes meat for the fry pan, the meal for today. The only knife they haven’t found is a good size for the carcass, this one a spring hare. Not fat enough. First the pectorals, flapped open like my Oskar’s vest the night they marched him into the forest. Sternum cracked, yanked out, ribs attached, lifted into the cast iron pot, laid on a bed of early greens and sorrel for a sour stock tomorrow. Legs severed at the hip joint, slid into the last of the milk to soak.
What’s left is a narrow boat of flesh where heart and stomach and sweetmeats cool. Boiled, they’ll give strength, but entrails and lungs make a soup bitter. They could go to the hound if he hadn’t run off or been butchered for food, so into the bucket, chum for bait-fish. They can’t stop the river or the perch in its weeds.
Braised in a bit of lard, milk-sweetened haunches and breast meat, forelegs with their thread of marrow. As for the spine, we’ll suck meat from its bones. Sundown, tuck the children in. Bury the pot in the food hole, scatter the feet. Dim the lamp, hide the oil. They took the chickens, eggs, the cow, the pretty girls, the men. By day, the Germans. By night, the Partisans.
J. C. Todd
J. C. Todd’s books are FUBAR, an artist book collaboration (Lucia Press), What Space This Body (Wind Publications), and two chapbooks. Poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and most recently in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Thrush, and Valparaiso Review. Winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, she has received fellowships and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Arts Council, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Pew, UCross, Ragdale and Leeway foundations.
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The Walls of Your Apartment
Mountain lion hide smudged with charcoal.
The cold drip coffee stains
and paperbacks stacked like ego.
I'm finding my lips falling
into the nondescript fragrance of your home.
They twist like a town square
—and you with them--
reverberating into shadow.
I unhinge my jaw to expend a suite of questions
because truth be told I am confused
but desperate to listen. I ask you what you mean
when you say your words—the ones that belong to you,
tucked neatly behind your basement birdfeeders.
Because you've arranged them in a row. Yes, I can see
you've strung them up along the moulding. Decor
commemorating the quiet in the back of your throat.
lounging in your apartment
we make do with the radiator
and I lay my palms flat and open
and your words dance
and we smile.
This poem was written for the ekphrastic surprise challenge on birds.
Gabe Kahan is a poet, freelance writer, visual artist, and the founding editor of Taxicab Magazine. His poetry has appeared in the Occulum, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Paragon Journal, and others. He lives and writes in New York, and never leaves the house without his Burt's Bees beeswax lip balm. You can follow him on Twitter @GabeKahan.
Landscape with Rocks, Sky, Nails
The rocks a tumble of sharp edges.
And atop this, wedged against sky in varied
shades of blue, the artist’s house.
I try to keep my mind focused,
but I find myself stuck beside a visiting
group of students—fourth, maybe fifth grade .
The docent asks a question and the kids’ hands
sprout like foam splashed against rock,
eager, full energy. One boy sits with his back to the group,
elbows on knees, eyes roaming across art filled walls.
They say Kent built the house and I can’t help
but wonder: Did he hammer the nails himself?
Did he turn the spindles for the porch rails?
I read somewhere that Kent spent his time
on Monhegan drilling wells, repairing roofs,
emptying privies. The boy taps his feet—no good reason--
but he reminds me of Roy, a boy I tried to teach to read,
a boy who lived in a house with a privy out back,
a boy whose father slammed him against walls.
Look at the painting, the way the door
could be a piece of sky, so blue.
And the house with its open-mouthed porch--
the sea, the wind—full of it. So many straight lines
and nails, an artist’s house with clean light spilling
across the floor. I remember the night
Roy, his mother, and sister slept on my floor,
fear tucked in their backpacks. I got up
before dawn just to watch his chest
rise and fall in dreadful light. In the painting:
a rough climb, no path across the rocks.
There must be some easier way in.
Judy Kaber's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Eclectica, Crab Creek Review, Miramar, Off the Coast, and The Comstock Review. She is a retired elementary school teacher living in Maine.
Alligator Pear – No. 2
Two alligator pears
in a basket -
fresh milk stains her dress
In the Patio VIII
shot blast of clouds
over partially shaded door,
green, closed, unable enter
Pond in the Woods & A Piece of Wood
In ceaseless, spiraling
echo chamber of wood,
a pond grows
Gerald's Tree I
from scorched earth
rises Gerald's Tree -
stripped bare and
writhing in heat
Through the eye
of a cow's pelvis
I see the moon
Originally from Chicago, Dan Franch currently resides in the country of Estonia. Currently a language teacher in Estonia, he has traveled extensively, has lived in six countries, and has had a wide variety of random life experiences. Restless by nature, Dan is doing his best to settle into an extended stay in his children's homeland.
The Twittering Machine
don’t be ashamed,
that’s your family calling for you
this is the nest you never wanted to think about
having to go back to
this is the place that reminds you how things
should be, but also how they aren’t
the screaming of the birds, the young,
you created them,
in this other world that might have been
they’re out there in the cold and freezing night
left alone with her
and you know how that goes,
which is why they hate you
without knowing you
without ever having spoken to you
without ever having been born
This poem was written as part of the surprise ekphrastic challenge on birds.
Garth Ferrante is a complete unknown who teaches, writes, and makes games out of challenging his own creativity. He writes because he loves to, because he finds meaning and purpose in it, because if he didn’t, life would be lifeless.
Flooded River, February Thaw 1997
after Stephen Hannock
The drowned world
is reflected in
the effluent tide,
ice break and tree
limbs mar this
here, even the dead
are regaining their
sight as they rise
along the river banks
to walk among again
the shimmering trees
in search of dreams
Editor's note: Alan Catlin's poem was inspired by the work of artist Stephen Hannock, whose stunning landscape paintings can be viewed at http://www.stephenhannock.info.
Alan Catlin has been publishing for parts of five decades in little, minuscule, not so little, literary and university publications from the Wisconsin Review to Tray Full of Lab Rats, to Wordsworth’s Socks and The Literary Review among many others. His chapbook, Blue Velvet, won the Slipstream Chapbook Contest in 2017. He is the poetry and review editor of Misfitmagazine.net, an online poetry journal.
The Woman of Willendorf
Her maker knew what he was doing, but that
was a cool 28,000 years ago and now
we have to guess. Stick her footless ankles
in the earth and she becomes the earth,
and the earth becomes woman. She’ll fit
in your hand, and yet, so engorged, all
breasts, body, hips, hair, she is pure
sex, too powerful to hold. Her maker
revered her, or maybe feared
the terror of creation, the unknowable
as dangerous as a sow bear.
More dangerous still, for the future
of the human animal: imagine the moment
of her conception, as her maker thinks
a thought no human has ever had before--
I will make a rock into a woman. From cold stone
I will give birth to an idea.
Barbara Carlton is a writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She lives in San Diego, California. In her other professional life she is an architect. In her personal life she is the mother of two grown children and the servant of two cats known as the Permanent Toddlers.
Tea Bag Salmon Prayer
Here is an ancient one--
tender-tea-bag-tethered scale by scale--
curved and floating, resting now--
one dorsal fin frayed--
the eye, the mouth, the caudal fin--
the careful hand behind the delicate creation--
I would be assembled of such fragile finishings--
like tea bags gathered over time--
cherished, known, put to new use.
Shirley Glubka is a retired psychotherapist, the author of three poetry collections, a mixed genre collection, and two novels. The Bright Logic of Wilma Schuh (novel, Blade of Grass Press, 2017) is her latest. Shirley lives in Prospect, Maine with her spouse, Virginia Holmes. Website: http://shirleyglubka.weebly.com/ Online poetry at 2River View here and at The Ghazal Page here and here.
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