Category: Featured

From Issue 14: Housemate

Hilary Sallick
Last night as I sat at the kitchen table
at work on my autobiography      I
glanced up from the chore
of ordering clauses of self            and saw
across the distance of the room
on the worn wood floor at the foot
of the stairs           an insect       watery
creature                 scurrying toward clutter
of shoes and boots under the bench
an inches-long centipede I could recognize
even at a distance       casting its shadow
under the ceiling’s glare
As always           it startled me
I sat fixed in my chair        watching
thinking             soft body
next to nothing                    smudge of wetness
when crushed

How rarely
it braves the light
Surely it must have
a purpose
 
Hilary Sallick‘s poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, the Aurorean, Atlanta Review, Salamander, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Winter Roses is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She is an adult literacy teacher in Somerville, MA, and vice-president of the New England Poetry Club.

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.

From Issue 11: Each Wounded Thought Begins to Dance Almost Painlessly

Each Wounded Thought Begins to Dance Almost Painlessly
Chris Hutchinson
 
East of here, groves of magnolia
Shade troves of rust-darkened auto parts.
No one walks anymore.
The sun stains the horizon with an iodine tincture before dusk
Seals the wound shut.
No one reads Henry David Thoreau.
The unmistakably sparrow-headed Prince of Hell
Dons his caldron-helmet. His eyes
Are a drugstore’s promise of late-night hours
Preferable to cutting thru
Or driving on, alone.
 
jU7rIVIlRSCFuvw8xlDy_full_AUTHOR FOTO 2Canadian expat Chris Hutchinson is the author of three collections of poetry, plus his most recent book, Jonas in Frames, which has been variously described as a “picaresque novel,” a “novel in verse,” and “an epic poem disguised as a novel.” Visit Chris online here: http://chrishutchinsonblog.blogspot.com

Featured: $20 Taxi Ride

Olivia Vande Woude
Listen to the poem below:

 
Wears a Nike hat

Scar on his left wrist

3 centimeters long.
Inserts the key

of a chain with a yellow pig dangling

among other
5 carefully serrated pieces of gold.
We are a lot of people in this country,

Ethiopia

I am from the Northern part.
Likes the quiet

of Alexandria

says it’s good for old people.
Told him I do too.
That’s good, that’s a great feature.
Yellow wool lined teeth
Sweater vest
Camel colored shirt, striped
Coffee and cigarette breath
Receipts lie

endless

on the floor.
Clock says 5:15
forever.
My wife works at a school for grown people,
Financial aid department.

Has lived here

7 years

his mustache informs
and eyebrows tell.
“Morning Fresh”
pink car
freshener sways
Unfolds glasses

with a plastic rim

to gently rest on dark ears.
Sits on a throne of 2 pillows

worn, sun faded

one of a taupe color
other a cheetah pattern
still comfortable.
Car cuts in front of us on Whitehurst Ave.
Complicated, no?
He chuckles.
City traffic bad, I go around
you see

I know the streets

more or less,

Parking problem? I inquire.
You’re right, it can happen that way.
Smiles.
Pass homeless people under bridges
Easter Egg baskets strangers gave them
roll on their sides
in the bit of wind
Winter’s exhausted.
One time I got lost with a client
You miss exit,
I’m telling you, I’m telling you,

you’re lost.
Didn’t charge her the whole cost on the meter
when I went the wrong way.
It’s better like that
You have to be human, yeah.
Bad destination otherwise.
I live my life like that, it’s fine
Thank you God.
One man, he decepts me,
gave me $20,
made me give him $10 later,
I say, Honest,

straight

is better.
Don’t worry about others, they must change

themselves.

I agree.
Thank you, thank you.
Folds and puts down glasses gingerly
Pats finger on the crinkled spine of the map
Reassurance of our arrival.
That’s good, That’s good,
Whispers quickly.
Shall I go in?
 
 
 
IMG_4384Olivia Vande Woude is a 17-year-old writer who has been featured in Literary Orphans, Stepping Stones Magazine, Poetry Space U.K., Five 2 One Magazine, The Sacred Cow Magazine, Carnival Magazine, Poetry Super Highway, Canvas literary magazine, and other publications. She is an intern at Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center, where she is co-editor of the Crossroads IV Anthology.

Featured: Last Train to St. Pancras

John Stocks
 
The last train is waiting at the station
With all tension, all motion stilled
On this night of grey- ice, hoar frost,
Know this
Sometimes it is enough just to exist.
On the longer journeys time stops
Is as fixed as every station clock
Under starlight, when nothing stirs.
Perhaps you were the green eyed girl
Who sighed,
As if weary of life’s travails
As if weary of all your lives?
Briefly we shared
Our parallel lines.
Perhaps on some other track
We know each other?
Have shared our dreams
And sit together
Watching the snow flurries come and go
Where the last train waits; forever on the platform.

JOHN STOCKS is a poet based in the UK. New work will be featured in an upcoming anthology for Seamus Heaney. He is the poetry editor for ‘Bewildering Stories’ magazine.