Category: Featured

Featured: Spontaneous Generation

Vicente Huidobro

Translated by Jonathan Simkins

Ask for your death
Here is the grave by the trail of nocturnal planes
The spontaneous generation of words on the open sea
The glitter of their modulating passage
In the cross’s metamorphosis lighting the air with bright colors

In the city of our echoes
The unchained storm slays her spouse
Herbs grow from the coordinates of fire
Or the miseries of gloveless autumn

You will arrive still
undone between the dark cloaks
Of shivering death

The dream opens to the squalls of precious metals
For you ladies
A pilgrimage to the chimneys of echoing echoes
The spectrum of the mystery beyond all danger
The only spectrum enlarged by the world’s kiss
For three days only
In the kingdom arising from the sea

The simple oblivion of the woman of the festival’s elixir
It frees your legs from the flags of death
And follows the trail of the shrouded root

Chilean writer Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) was a major figure of 20th century avant-garde poetry. Founder of the literary movement known as Creacionismo, he was a multilingual poet, playwright, novelist, war correspondent, screenwriter, and candidate for the presidency of Chile.

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Simkins is the co-translator with Kimrey Anna Batts of El Creacionismo by Vicente Huidobro (The Lune, forthcoming). Recent translations have appeared or are forthcoming in The Chattahoochee Review, Eclectica Magazine, Ghost Town, Gulf Coast, PANK, and Vinyl. He is the publisher of Cigar City Poetry Journal: https://www.cigarcitypoetryjournal.org/

Featured: Vertigo

David Anthony Sam

You turn and turn,
animate flesh,
quickly forgetting
the knowing part of you.

We speak towards you
but you do not hear
as the gray clouds
that descend to gray fog
do not hear.

Outside, jonquils and tulips
test the light
with green shoots.
I cry out against
their rising into a world
soon absent of you.

But you lie in your final
bed fearful of each turning−
the vertigo of mortality
spinning you away.

 

David Anthony Sam lives in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda. He has four collections and his poetry has appeared in over 70 journals and publications. His chapbook Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson was the 2016 Grand Prize winner of GFT Press Chapbook Contest.

Featured: The Wicked Witch to the West

Zan Bockes

 

            “That witch needs her head examined!” roared my father after yet another confrontation, evidently hoping his shout would carry out the screened window to Mrs. Hokinson’s pointed ears. I could see her in her backyard, fuming as she pruned a bush with quick chops of a hedge clipper, which was almost as sharp as her nose. Her angular body jerked with each snip, a few stray locks from the bun of gray hair dangling over her waxy face. Our family thought she looked exactly like the Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz,” with an identical personality.

            My mother, father, five-year-old brother and I lived in the Dundee area of Omaha, Nebraska, from 1960 to 1966. Our decision to move to another middle class neighborhood was partly influenced by Mrs. Hokinson’s lack of hospitality. At six years of age, I understood little of the arguments she and Dad carried on over the back fence, but the tone of their voices told me everything I needed to know.

            The Hokinsons’ brooding bungalow squatted to the west, close to our basement garage, and it seemed to loom over the wire fence into our massive catalpa tree, which shed long cigar-like pods that Mrs. Hokinson frequently complained about. All the windows of her house were sealed by heavy curtains, like shut eyes.

            Mr. Hokinson, some sort of engineer, appeared so infrequently that we doubted his existence. The children in our neighborhood whispered that he was chained in the basement, and that if you listened closely on summer nights, you could hear him scream. They had a teenaged daughter, Monnie, whose rare presence contributed to the myth. Sometimes I caught a glimpse of her walking off to high school early in the morning, carrying her books in the crook of her arm with her head lowered, as though she needed every bit of concentration to move her feet. Some afternoons I watched her walking back with the same demeanor, climbing the stairs to the front porch, tugging herself up the rusted rail like an old woman. Rumor had it that her mother and father regularly deprived her of food, evidenced by her frailty and bony physique. She baby-sat for my brother and me once, reading in a dark corner and paying no attention to us at all. Because we ate a whole package of chocolate Ex-Lax under her care, she was never asked back.

            “Next time I’m going to tape record that Hokinson witch,” my father threatened again and again. He set the reel-to-reel on the back porch, ready for action. But the arguments flared up so quickly that he never had the chance to turn it on.

            Each “discussion” (my mother’s term) seemed to last hours, though they were perhaps ten to fifteen minutes long. Mrs. Hokinson’s shrillness seemed to carry for blocks, though only a few houses on either side heard.

            Every week or so, I saw her and my father leaning at each other over the dilapidated fence, their faces so close they could have touched noses. My father’s shouts sounded like gunshots, Mrs. Hokinson’s like a crashing piano. From my secret perch in the catalpa, I watched my father’s red face shake, his hands clenched at his sides. The Wicked Witch gripped the frail fence, her reptilian body ready to spring, the loose skin of her neck flapping every time she uttered an epithet.

            I had never known my father to use foul language, and to discover that he cursed liberally with his neighbor shocked me. “Watch your tongue!” I wanted to yell. “I’ll wash your mouth out with soap!” With their loud and venomous voices, I often feared that Dad and Mrs. Hokinson would trade blows. Although they never did, on one occasion Mrs. Hokinson spat in Dad’s face.

            As far as their many differences went, I never thought they warranted this level of animosity. Most topics struck me as ridiculous. Several times our dog got loose, digging under the fence to explore the Hokinsons’ yard. Occasionally the dog barked briefly at night. Sometimes my brother and I lost a baseball in their bushes, or the lawn sprinkler accidentally doused the side of their house.

            Our other neighbors to the east pleasantly chatted with us every time we saw them. The elderly couple behind us exchanged cookies and pies with my mother. But they had their own difficulties with the Hokinsons. Secret alliances formed between all of us unlucky enough to live nearby. My friends from up and down the street believed the dark bungalow was haunted, that Mrs. Hokinson, an escaped lunatic, had blood under her fingernails and a hatchet under her pillow. We tiptoed past the house, lowered our voices whenever we were near. A Frisbee over the fence was forever lost.

            One ongoing source of conflict became the property line, an invisible divider that Mrs. Hokinson asserted was eleven inches further into our yard than my father claimed, the line supposedly running across the top of the driveway wall instead of giving us a little more space. The sagging wire fence, which looked like a snake from one end, just caused more confusion. Yet because of its wandering nature, it provided a “demilitarized zone” of approximately eleven inches, appearing to belong to no one.

            One winter my dad shoveled the basement driveway, heaving heavy, wet snow atop the seven-foot rock wall on the Hokinsons’ side. This drew another protest from the Wicked Witch, who shoveled the snow back down onto the driveway. The two of them shouted at each other from our front porches, Mrs. Hokinson shaking a ruler to demonstrate how far our snow had encroached on her property.

            The next spring, after a night of pouring rain, the wall collapsed, sending armies of roaches into our house. Dad suspected the Witch had done something to it–perhaps stomped her feet along the edge or undermined it with a shovel. We wouldn’t have put it past her.

            While my father made the repairs himself with cement and cinder blocks, Mrs. Hokinson notified the authorities that he hadn’t gotten a building permit. He spent the night in jail and had to pay a $100 fine, a sizable amount back then. This served to bring the conflict to a fever pitch.

            Soon after, our family finally got the opportunity to move to a newer neighborhood. I would miss our old clapboard house with the big kitchen and dusty attic, the upstairs screened porch where I spent warm days in the hammock. I would miss my friends–the games of “Hide and Seek” and “Crack the Whip,” the humid summer nights catching fireflies–and I would miss Dundee School, with its yellow wood floors and smell of wax. But moving to a new place excited me–the houses stood farther apart and the neighbors were more friendly.

            As we packed the U-Haul, Mrs. Hokinson stood watching from her sidewalk, arms barricading her flat chest. Once the last box was put into place and we all piled into the car, the Witch’s screech shattered the sticky afternoon:

            “Good riddance!”

            My father twisted the key and pumped the gas pedal. “Same to you!” he yelled as our tires squealed. My brother and I watched her disappear in the back window. Just as we rounded the corner, Mrs. Hokinson tripped as she climbed the stairs to her front porch. We didn’t stop giggling until we’d driven all the way across town.

 

 

Zan Bockes, (pronounced “Bacchus”), earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. Her work appears in numerous publications and she has had four Pushcart Prize nominations. Her first poetry collection, CAUGHT IN PASSING, was released in 2013 and her second, ALIBI FOR STOLEN LIGHT, appeared in 2018.

Featured: Free Surge

Ross Hargreaves

 

Right before lunch in the West Junior High band room when the overhead tells us about the Surge truck parked by the cafeteria ready and waiting to give us all free Surge. “Hurry up,” the overhead said. “Because it’s first come first served.”

No way was this ending civil.

Surge was all the caffeinated rage. On the news parents were saying that it had too much caffeine, that along with Marilyn Manson CD’s it was driving kids crazy. And these parents hadn’t had to deal with Red Bull or Monster yet. Surge actually had less caffeine than Mountain Dew. And if it seems dumb to get so excited about a new soda, a Mountain Dew rip-off, remember that this was the mid 90’s. Cobain was dead, Rivers Cuomo had gone back to Harvard, Seinfeld was ending and the best Simpsons were behind us. Movie-wise, beside maybe Men in Black, the whole period was a real dump.

Anticipation ceased all conversation in the band room. Instruments were quickly put away. I lugged my tuba down to the band storeroom and by the time I got it hooked in the bell rang. I hurried to catch up. I though Surge was like drinking Gak but it was free and everyone else was doing it. Classes with a majority of cool kids had been let out early and were already mobbing the truck. I caught up with the group racing across the outside basketball courts with the Sprite backboards. Someone pushed me, someone kicked me in the back of the knee and someone spray-painted a dick on the back of my sweatshirt. That slowed me down a bit.

The Surge truck was parked behind the cafeteria. So many kids surrounded it that the Surge spokespeople couldn’t get out of the back of the truck. They were tossing out single bottles into the crowd and when that didn’t give them enough breathing room they tossed out whole cases. Most were caught. Some exploded on the asphalt, sending up a Surge mist that would last the rest of the day. Skaters were picking up broken bottles and using them to spray at girl’s chests. Other kids took intact bottles, shook them up and tossed them into the air.

I held back. Sure now that I wouldn’t get any. One kid, a sax player in the band and supposed child genius who would dedicate his life to pot smoking, ran out of the crowd, his arms loaded down with Surge bottles. “Look how many I got,” he shouted at everyone.

Another band kid, Casey, a trumpet player, came and stood by me after getting his own armful. Casey would alternately annoy me and be my friend throughout Junior high and high school. I couldn’t stand his hair, styled after the lead singer of Silver Chair. But these days we share a really funny back and forth on Facebook so you never know how these things are going to turn out.

“Casey,” I said. “Can I have one?”

“No,” he said.

Those throwing bottles were starting to take on targets. One exploded on the wall between me and Casey. Both of us sure that we had been the intended targets. “Screw this,” I said but did not go anywhere.

The Surge spokespeople began to apologize. All out of Surge. The last cases were already on the ground being fought over. The truck door was pulled down and the truck shrieked out of the parking lot.

At this point another group of cool kids showed up. Their leader was the tallest white kid in school. The basketball coaches loved him, ignored that he double dribbled every time he got the ball. He was also one of the only kids who drove to school. So every lunch his group used his car to smoke weed or cigarettes, listen to CD’s and even go to McDonalds, though they weren’t supposed to leave campus. That day who knew what they were doing, only that they had to hit the car before free Surge because the Surge would wait for them. Obviously.

“Not fair,” a blonde girl in the group said.

Some of the group entered the fray over any remaining bottles.

The tall kid pointed at me. His face was red with a recent outbreak of acne. “Did you get one?” His voice already full of rage. Sure that if a loser like me had managed a bottle of Surge it proved how unfair this whole situation was.

Casey had disappeared. “I didn’t get one,” I said. The tall kid spit on my shoes and walked away. I twisted my ankle the best I could and tried to wipe the loogie off on the ground.

The cool kids, when their friends wouldn’t give them up, began to pick out the weak kids. A plump kid from my math class gave up all six Surges held against his chest for the unlikely promise of being left alone.

It wasn’t enough, of course. Soon enough a real fight broke out. The tall kid who’d just spit on me vs. Puck, the diminutive lord of the skaters. A kid beloved for his sexual aggressiveness. The rumor was he’d attempted to fuck a seventh grade girl in the very band store room where I kept my tuba. Apparently she was too tight for him to finish. All the band teacher would tell us was, “There is stuff going on you guys can’t understand.” I wondered how involved my tuba was in all this. But what could I do, I emptied the spit valve and washed the mouthpiece out in a drinking fountain.

Puck and I had had run-ins before. The time that sticks out most, some early morning, he was standing in front of my locker talking to this Mormon girl who one day would become a tattooed bartender. I said, “Excuse me.” He ignored me. Then when he deemed it was time for him to move on, he turned to me and said, “There you go, faggot.”

The Mormon girl said to me, not unkindly, “Don’t worry about him. He’s high.”

The politics of this shit.

Feel sorry for those that do the things that really matter; drugs, drinking, fucking too early. Forgive the fuckers who have victims. All so one day you can jump into a pool fully clothed with a bunch of people on a day of celebration. Or hate them until college when you can become just like them. Sit in a room full of your awesome friends watching a home movie projection of you sitting in a room full of your awesome friends.

Is it too much to consider that we are all fascist?

The fight was mostly shoves. The crowd circled before the first punch. Some people backing a particular fighter. Others jumping back and forth to be seen as rooting for both. I wouldn’t root for either. Fuck both those guys. If they killed each other, cool.

A few punches were thrown and then Puck slapped the tall kid in the face with a full bottle of Surge. The sound reverberated throughout the now silent crowd. Then they replaced it with unanimous groans. Half the tall kids face was a slimy yellow mess of popped zits.

I remember the whole thing in super slow mo. In a way it never could have happened. That sound was the most satisfying I ever heard, until years later while working at a CheapFoods I witnessed a security guard whip a shoplifter in the back of the head with a bag of apples.

That ended the fight. Teachers came out and dragged Puck and the tall kid away. Everyone else scattered. Losers to their hiding spots. Cool kids to the basketball courts to be seen. Surge bottles kept getting sent up like fireworks. After lunch everyone returned to class covered in a sticky film.

The next day the overhead gave the whole school a stern talking too. How we didn’t behave the way young adults should, didn’t save any Surge for the seventh graders lunch. Our privileges would be limited from this point forward and if they ever allowed an opportunity like this to happen again, they hoped we would conduct ourselves in a manner befitting our situation as students of West Junior High.

No blame for themselves of course. Sending us out there like the animals.

 

Ross Hargreaves lives and writes in Idaho.

Featured: The answers are written in the book you wrote over

Kennedy Sievers

in purple and blue crayon leaving messages for me that resonate within my head your messages of love overlaid with the text of The Confederacy of Dunces I’ve never read the book on its own but now it’s in conjunction with your sweet nothings you filled the pages with your heart and dinosaur stickers and now that your beating chambers belong to someone else my book sits on the shelf collecting dust alongside my memories of you remember that time we walked to get candy and lay in the grass staring at clouds eating Werther’s caramels or the other time or the other time or the other time or when we stripped down to bare vulnerability souls and asses bared at the sky remember the time I made you laugh so hard you peed on the stairs remember when we snuck out and thumbed down the cops remember remember remember remember when you loved me talk about a confederacy of dunces the real dunce is me

 

Kennedy is a senior at Western State Colorado University. She is an English major with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in Psychology. She has been published several times in both the school newspaper, Top o’ the World, as well as the school literary magazine, Pathfinder.

Featured: Good Morning, Get Up

Michael Brosnan

Birds, as they must,
Sing at the first sign
Of light,

The blue hour.
There’s a word:
Perforce.

You and I, we push
Through — as if to stop
Is to lose.

But lose what?
(The severely imagined)
God knows.

I only know
That possibility
Punishes every pause.

 

Michael Brosnan is the author of The Sovereignty of the Accidental (Harbor Mountain Press, 2017). About the collection, poet Naomi Shihab Nye writes, “A stunning book…. Poems which stir language, memory, momentary intense awareness, to give us back the bracing joy of clear thinking.” Read more at www.michaelabrosnan.com.

Featured: The Seed, a Sonnet

Daria Smith Giraud

The clapping of my beaded braids
were downbeats to dirty New York streets.
Brand new shell top Adidas chasing a gaze
of graffiti tags thrown up subway upbeats
where summers were my treasure under stars and moon.
I’d dance like Ancestors with aether in my lungs
under Union Square women heavenly commune
shekeres chasing trance in polyrhythmic tongues.
And I and I embodied in space and time
channeling forgotten pasts forbidden to die
from Pangea to Americas to this paradigm.
We’d meet in this plane where the dance survived.
Serenaded by a sea of black bodies jumping from the air,
Awakening the dead, this dance became our prayer.

 

Daria Smith Giraud (Ria) has a performing arts classical vocal music background having studied and graduated from Washington, DC’s, Ellington School of the Arts. Earlier performances include the Kennedy Center sharing the stage with Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones. She offers her gifts to community as an organic gardener, arts as education performer, vegan chef, yogini, storyteller. An Honors Bachelor of Arts, Communications student with a minor in Creative Writing, Daria is inspired by her poetry professor to explore her talents and passions in poetry by discovering open mics where her “metaphysical, transcendent historical voice” can be heard.

Featured: Visit to a Small Planet

D.G. Geis

No telling
what He thinks—or if.

His ears,
a zillion light years wide,

pressed to the fizzy heart
of the universe,

a hydrogen gasbag
folded in on itself

like table napkins
on the Hindenburg,

an omelet,
or a quantum quesadilla.

What we call spiral galaxies,
He calls soup and sandwiches.

What we call supernovas,
He calls shoe polish.

What we call black holes,
He calls a paycheck.

What we call space,
He calls the barstool.

What we call the Big Bang,
He calls Louise.

It’s why the sun’s
so hysterical

and the moon
so matter of fact.

But it’s also why
stars twinkle–

The Big Guy winking at us,
humming a little tune

to Himself,
while he helps Louise

with her zipper.

 

D.G. Geis is the author of ‘Fire Sale’ (Tupelo Press/Leapfolio) and ‘Mockumentary’ (Main Street Rag). Among other places, his poetry has appeared in The Moth, The Irish Times, Fjords, Skylight 47, A New Ulster Review, Crannog Magazine, and Into the Void. He lives in the Hill Country of Central Texas.

Featured: After that Night

by Kat Delghingaro

Listen to the piece below:

 

You’re walking on a beach with your friend Ed and a stranger but she’s not really a stranger, she goes to the same school as you and you know she’s a nursing student, you know because she told you when you helped pass out condoms to freshmen at the HIV testing both and they flirted with her, complementing her nursing uniform. You never thought you’d be friends with a nurse, you tend to run with artist and actors but she has a cool tattoo of a lion on her arm and now you’re at the beach and she’s complimenting your bathing suit top and you wonder if she means more because your bathing suit top is covering your breasts and that’s the point of a bathing suit top right?

You’re not sure.

Now you’re holding hands and joking about getting married because she’s dressed for the formal party the three of you are attending later and she’s wearing a button down and has a large smile on her face and her hands aren’t sweaty, unlike yours, then you remember that you’re strangers, but then you think who cares? Because summer flings are meant to be just that, except now you’re thinking about after summer and when you both return to school, you’re the same age but she’s a senior and you’re a sophomore and that’s weird right?

You leave Ed to relax in the sun and now she’s wearing a bra and a pair of shorts, you both walk down to the water around the little kids making sandcastles and the parents drinking warm beer. You play in the water the way two people who feel completely comfortable around each other do and people are looking at you because you’re two women who are acting like a couple on their honeymoon and you pretend you’re on you honeymoon, it’s nice and no man has ever made you feel like this, it’s new and you promised yourself adventure and here she is, shivering in the ocean as the water reflects in her eyes.

After that night you never see her again and she leaves with more than the pants she borrowed, you call her a few months later when your dog died and you were at your weakest, but she doesn’t come over, she’s graduated and you’re a junior now and you need to act like it and you make new friends and Ed’s in another country and you don’t go near the nursing building or anywhere near that side of campus, even though you want to try that new wrap place.

Your roommate tells you she left town, and you wonder how your roommate knew her, and there’s a hole in your stomach, a part of you, you never thought she could take and even after a year you look around for her even though she graduated, you still close your eyes when walking the sidewalks, hoping to never catch a glance of her.

You don’t understand because just last summer you wanted nothing more than to spend every moment with her.

You see her in a coffee shop your senior year and her hair is short and she’s wearing a shirt that sorority girls wear and you never thought you’d like a sorority girl, but here she’s is filling the parts of you she took. She tells you where she’s sitting and leaves while you wait for coffee, your best friend leans over and tells you how beautiful she is but you already know, and he doesn’t know about the beach or the honeymoon and you told him everything about that summer but you left her out. And when she looked at you, your heart forced you to remember the fake honeymoon and the summer fling you thought was over and you remember her in her bra, in the ocean pretending to be your wife. And you remember when she picked you up and threw you in the water and the older couple next to you gave her a dirty look and you hoped you’d never grow up to be that sour.

And now you’re walking upstairs with your coffee and she’s on a couch eating tomato basil soup and reading a book and you talk for hours and suddenly your infatuated again, and you know you shouldn’t be but she smiles and there’s a small red stain on the corner of her mouth you want to wipe off but you don’t know if you have permission. Your best friend drinks three cups of coffee and you realize how long you’ve been talking, so you leave her your number and she never calls and you never go back to that café and you wonder when the next time you’ll run into her again and you and your best friend go to the beach, and you hate the smell of salt in the air and you can’t look at the ocean without remembering the girl that stole everything from you and now you’re counting down the days until graduation so you can leave the city.

 

Kat Delghingaro is a script and non fiction writer. She is a soon to be graduate with a writing degree from Georgia Southern University. She has written and directed a few short films and hopes to continue in the future.

Featured: The Tao of Barbour County

by L. Ward Abel

Listen to the poem below:

 

L. Ward Abel, poet, composer and performer of music, teacher, retired lawyer, lives in rural Georgia, has been published hundreds of times in print and online, and is the author of one full collection and nine chapbooks of poetry, including Jonesing For Byzantium (UK Authors Press, 2006), American Bruise (Parallel Press, 2012), Little Town gods (Folded Word Press, 2016), and Digby Roundabout (Kelsay Books, 2017). “The Tao of Barbour County” is from Digby Roundabout.