Category: Featured

Featured: June 19, Palais de Rei

by Sean Denmark

A field disgorged,
to the bishop led there
by a star, a saint’s
remains, a shallow
to attract ever more
distant folks until
the catchment of
St. James’s bones
engulfed kingdoms
& more & more
farmers along the way
battled shortcuts
through their wheat.
Pilgrims attract coins
& miracles attract
pilgrims & a solid
miracle—a healing, say,
of some medieval’s
blindness—could sprout
a little chapel along
the path its wings, to flourish
& to crow, till some
fresher miracle erupted
somewhere, draining off
the blessing seekers.
Whoever has will be
given more & whoever
doesn’t have, even that
will be taken away &
on & on till the bubble
bursts again. Post-
Spain’s-Great-Recession,
the Camino barrels
past the weightless buoys
of empty towns—
one gorged vein
among necrotic tissue.
Wanna buy a house?
That hot new
definition of village
sweeping the earth
like wildfire: old folks
& little kids.

 

Sean Denmark hails from Alabama but moved to New York City, where he teaches and writes. His poetry has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review and other publications, and he is working on a manuscript of poems first penned while on pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

Featured: Good Luck with Your Hobby (excerpt)

Holly Coddington

Olu thinks it’s funny how hard white people try to avoid calling someone black.
It is normal to have no faith in the justice system
And nice to be surprised
Although that is not what happened today.
I go to the Bronx in my best white guilt
Convinced everyone black hates me. Why not?
Just the other day I was walking Charlie
And a black man approached me quickly
With his hands in his pockets.
I was scared.
Charlie wasn’t scared.
Charlie sniffed a bag. Ayanna gives me a ride to
The train station because it is dark outside
And this is not a good neighborhood.
As we speed along the BQE she tells me
She is dating a jewish guy, “I didn’t know they liked
Black women,” she says. “Yes, I think they do,” I say
As if I’m some expert. He thinks they
Have a lot in common because both of their
People have been massacred. Ayanna’s friends
Are afraid they had sex too quickly.
Dominic is the second man this month
Who has commented on how lucky he is
To be white.

 

Holly Coddington is of average height and average build. She has small ears and an almost red beard. Also, I think of her as being big but she is actually of average height or perhaps even shorter than average. She is not a very average person. She has a dog, Charlie. They live in Denver, Colorado where Holly teaches composition. Other work has appeared in Prelude, Forklift, OH., Sonora Review and Fungi Magazine.

Featured: Monday Morning

Maximilian Heinegg

Off Church Ave, old men do cartwheels
on the asphalt of a middle school playground.
When they begin their Tai-Chi, they remove
jackets, & smooth the wrinkles out of the air.

I come courtside with Anthony- tarnished skills,
freshly inflated ball. We lay our jackets & keys
on the fence beside our water & any pride,
trying to recall the form & follow through.

Our opponents are ourselves, until three
ten-year olds demand a game. They talk smack,
have handles, rebounding elbows, cursing
like those they’ve observed, but play hard, fair.

A good shoot-around follows, as pigeons, the color
of the court, flock loudly, pecking gravel for candy.
We pick up our coats & keys, the old men
put their jackets back on, smiling broadly.

They walk in time with temperament, each step
a rest, but without their hands, the air returns to
what it was before: jagged breath, these lines whose
ridges crease, whose lack of ease cuts furrows.

 

Maximilian Heinegg is a high school English teacher in Medford, MA. His poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, December, Tar River Poetry, and Crab Creek among others. He is also a singer-songwriter whose music can be heard at www.maxheinegg.com

From Issue 15: September

 

David Sam

So green goes
pregnant underground
or flies with wind—
divine botanical passion

We darken this
with restlessness
for other equinoxes

How to vanish
turning away from such
an unreliable map

Where in the end
my likeness
will walk without me
while the world has changed

 

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 Material Things

Todd Mercer

Listen to the poem below:

 

We’re almost to the territory when the river takes our wagon.
Also swept downstream: two fine horses harnessed to it, the team
I’d planned to break the ground with on our homestead claim.
Susannah stands dripping on the bank, reaching for a fallback notion
that fits with the loss of provisions. She’s the brains in this operation.
The bad call to ford it here, that choice is on me. I know without it being said.
But the hands that plucked the children from the top of the rapids—
those were my hands. So maybe she’ll be able to forgive. Susannah at the start
of her Summer Years era, momentarily despairing, wringing river water
from her garments. Though pained by the disaster, she’s no quitter.
I sit huffing ‘til I can breathe clear. Then it’s time to make the miles
on foot. Slow progress is still considered progress,
even if our furnishings tumble to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

TODD MERCER won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry (2016), the National Writers Series Poetry Prize (2016) and the Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Award (2015). His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in 100 Word Story, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Literary Orphans, The Magnolia Review, Split Lip Magazine and Star 82 Review.

Featured: At My Desk on a Saturday Night

Samuel Vargo
It’s ten o’clock
And I’m at my desk.

Again.

But I don’t know what to write.
Though I know tonight I don’t want to work

on the novel that’s working me.

And I don’t have anything to write about.
But for once, I want to write short. Concise.
Something with punch and flair. Something
Cool. That’s the winning writing recipe –
Like a poem that I wrote when I was 26,
And in love, and very, very drunk.

That’s how all my poetry started

that was accepted by presses years ago.

When the editors wrote back,

Telling me how much they loved a piece,

And always clipped to the acceptance letter
Was the accepted poem, a photocopy? And
Of course, I couldn’t even recall writing the poem.

It sounds kind of funny, I know.
I always started by writing something.
Anything and nothing. Sometimes,
even gibberish. What a confession!

 

I think, therefore, I drink. Therefore. . .

I always wrote after staying out
All night. Howling and prowling.

These days, Saturday night out normally
Ends at ten-thirty. Such a domesticated
House mouse can’t write good poetry.
And today it’s soda pop or coffee? Crackers? Yogurt?
– It’s not possible, nor is it probable.
Yes, poetry has left me. My first love is no longer mine.

Poetry’s for the young.
The wild, the free. Those Bohemian types

who don’t even write for Internet space
and contributor’s copies. Prizes? Huh?
They’re out there in the night,
In the jazz clubs and punk rock bars.

– It seems that they don’t give a damn
About poetry, but poetry cares very deeply

about each of them.
They don’t think of it. It just happens.

No, I don’t write much poetry these days.
I could write poetry 20 or 30 years ago.
Sometimes I look some of it over and I’m

Amazed; at times, even proud.
But a lot of it is just pure shit.

And I must admit, I loved to write poetry then.
I don’t like to write it now. Maybe I grew up
Sometime during the course of the past two or three
Decades, but probably not, I don’t know. . . .

I think I could write short once upon a time.
Now I’m longwinded and my desk’s as large as a barge.

I don’t know where that little poetry canoe got to, but I know
It’s way down that river somewhere and I’m lost. . .

 

Samuel Vargo spends most of his time writing for national, liberal, online magazines. He’s a freelancer, free from the hard deadlines he had when he worked full-time for 20+ years as a print journalist.  He just can’t write poetry like he did as a young man. Darn! Shucks!

Featured: Her Full Heart

Dawn Pink

 

Snap of the scissors
Around the frayed twine.
Yellowed card stock tag reading
KINDLING
Flits to the ground.
The brown sack’s mouth yawns
And sighs out bundles,
Hitting the carpet with the sounds
Of an August storm.
Ribbons holding the folds together
Every crayola color.
Dusted letters creak as they unfold,
The creases well worn
Out pours decades
Of heart’s blood and tears,
Bravado and tenderness,
To a name unrecognizable
Though the handwriting is clearly hers.
Hundreds of bows
Thousands of pages
Signed with her everlasting love
And never addressed.

 

Dawn Alicia Pink studied Dramatic Theory at the University of Utah. She has edited five books, including the critically acclaimed novel The Aeronaut by Bryan Young, and volunteered with the Salt Lake Community Writing Center. She lives in Salt Lake City with her cat Tybalt.

Featured: 2.51pm in the wasteland

Sarah Grout

Listen to the poem below:

 

an aluminium can rolls
lacking purpose caught on an
intermittent wind, it moves
forward five paces, then dawdles
then rolls back slowly
the gradient of the road
unexpected without the wind;

misplaced, a flag flaps, torn to
immaterial pieces, but still hanging on
high, its purpose a series
of nods back and forward
across the steel pole,
clanging, asking the unwritable
question;

graffiti in block orange letters
spelling out death to immigrants
screams across the brick
walls, crumbling from the weight
of the concerns of the before,
but fluorescent, bright in their
long, lost anger.

we creep
through the wasteland
the scurrying noises
underneath the foil wrappers
dancing down the road, unthinking
as rodent or mutated
disease
set to take away from us
the nothing we already possess,
our steps are booted light but
still they become the only
symphony, eerie, as we cross
the wasteland;

there might be a way out
way out east,
whispers say there might be
but how can you know
when the king of your imagination
is lost
buried deep under the city’s walls
waiting
for a future that you will never see;

somewhere in the before a boy
fell in love with his best friend,
betrayed him, his reflected piece

and this is what started the wasteland

not the armies, or the guns,
the carpet bombs,
the finger on the trigger
happy, the word piles, vitriolic,
glutted off destruction;
now these boys stand on
two sides of the silver divide
remote
ghosts
haunting the wasteland with
their mis-told history.

The moon’s milk lights one,
the sun’s etchings caresses the other.
The darkness hides them both in an embrace.

But we walk, we trudge,
we pick our right foot up, and replace
its imprint with the left. We know no
other.

 

SK Grout grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and has lived in Frankfurt, Germany and Norwich, England. She now lives in North London. She’s currently working toward short story and poetry collections. Wanderlust, eco-living, social justice and writing remain priorities of her life.

Featured: Waking Up

Seth Jani

Listen to the poem below:

 

It’s where the border breaks
Into a mirage of daffodils.

Where the water shines
Like stretched metal.

Where a blue finch’s whims
Leads you on a summer’s day.

It emerges from the fog-addled eye
Of the deep circumference,

A jolt in the brain’s machinery,
A passing through.

From the dark, collective waters,
The memory-voiding sea,

It gradually appears:
Green motes, neural tinge of light,

The beautiful vehicle of the body’s motion.
We move through the familiar space

Piecing together the painted fragments:
Trees, cities, your brother’s rusted car.

The entire wavering kiln suddenly full
Of hard and dreaming clay.

 

Seth Jani resides in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His own work has been published widely in such places as The Chiron Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, Hawai`i Pacific Review, VAYAVYA, Gingerbread House, Gravel and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. Visit him at www.sethjani.com.

Featured: Home After Three Weeks Away

Tim DeJong

On a muggy August night
soundtracked by cicada choruses
we speak in nods and murmurs
as the children cling,
sleep-warmed weights against our shoulders.
The sprinkler system stutters its hello.

Later with drinks on the patio
we say little, if only because so
little needs saying after such
a long journey. It’s as though
these shapes in their familiarity
crowd out the need for words:
the porch lights, the gas grill, the patio stones.
Here where we left them
are the trappings of our lives,
and if whatever’s buried
under still-gleaming covers and screens
is trying to proclaim some fated unknown
it goes unheard by travelers
only relieved to have been
reacquainted with their chosen surfaces.

Then again, even when we remain
we are always leaving, always saying
hello and goodbye to everything at once,
the furniture, the lawn that needs cutting,
the white incessant sun.
Strange to be under the weight
of a life and not to know
what in it is holding you in.
Around us in the low-hanging evening
the branches of the trees
lift and rustle and intermingle
as if instructing each other
in the secret revolutionary history of leaves,
as if the recalcitrant keepers
of a language of laments and breezes.
I remember my mother asking me
if I thought money grew on them.
I said no, it doesn’t. But tonight
I dream that it does.
I dream of crisp dollar bills
that bud and greenly flutter
and litter the autumn damp.
We rake the scattered money into piles
for the children to jump into,
then bag the bills and cart them
to the curb to be hauled away
and finally mulched or burned.

Of course, the occasional note
might escape our attention to float
over the fence to settle
in the neighbor’s swimming pool.
Here the unit of currency saturates.
Here the face of George Washington,
adrift in a puddle made spectral
by blurred underwater lights,
softens and widens as it stares
up at stars mostly hidden by haze,
scrap of paper floating
in a chlorinated blue
reminder of the faraway sea.

 

e2hjnkvosawxckju9xtr_headshotTim DeJong grew up in Hamilton, Ontario and now teaches English at Baylor University. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Nomadic Journal, Kindred, Poydras Review, Common Ground Review, Forge, and other places. He lives in Waco, TX, with his wife Elizabeth and their children Edie and Gabriel.