It doesn’t dance but creeps along the spines
of books grown dusty. I know the dust will stay.
Through the window, our side of the street is patched
with white. The other side is lined with squares of green.
Downstairs, the kids’ squawks and cries keep me anchored,
they rise and make me think of lifting things,
children not my own. Some seem to have bird bones
and threaten to fly away. The heavy ones
are just as surprising, their pockets filled
with secrets. I ‘m amazed at what death takes.
When my mother-in-law died, I could have
lifted her with two fingers. My father
turned into a ghost, his features blurred
like an old photograph. And now this
morning light takes everything and leaves
just enough to make me stay.
Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook –The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) — and a full length poetry collection –What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.
We argue about peek-a-boo,
whose eyes get covered, mom’s
or baby’s. Having played with
three kids, I insist mom covers.
But then, they counter, baby can
easily see we aren’t gone. But
babies don’t understand whose
eyes look – mom, the whole world
willed into action, mom’s eyes
the ones proving them real.
Even here and now, at this table,
we’re not more advanced, still
unsure whose eyes matter most,
fearing erasure when not seen,
clapping when reflected.
Object permanence? Prove it
in deepest radio silence, or
when our posts sink unnoticed
in the queue. Cover your eyes.
Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has a chapbook Forms Most Marvelous forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press (summer 2017). Her recent poems can be found in: Oyez, The Cincinnati Review, Red Paint Hill, The Ekphrastic Review, Noble Gas Quarterly, Timberline Review, Trailhead Magazine, Vector, and Permafrost.
My mother’s patchwork spreads
across the floor
like it’s smothering flames.
Her needle speeds
through muslin, cotton, sack cloth.
The central square,
from which all else radiates,
my blue and yellow baby blanket.
Once rescued from a bin,
splattered with cabbage and gravy.
As my mother sews,
her spectacles fall
to the tip of her nose.
I itch to push them up again.
Belinda has poems published in various magazines, including Brittle Star, Dream Catcher, ARTEMISpoetry, Obsessed with Pipework and Sarasvati. Some poems have appeared on-line, others in anthologies. She has an MA in Fine and Media Arts and a PhD in Women’s Voices in Contemporary Poetry.
After an outpost beech or two,
that march now backs
against suburbia’s frontier attack
from the retail park. Bales
brick up, garrison defences
at its built approach. How long
can any cut-back field hold out
gold in the face of proffered
silver? Across the way a yellow sign
offers one Poplar Avenue – pre-occupied
behind tidy walls, placed
where no poplars ever rooted.
Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Gutter, Antiphon and elsewhere; she reviews in DURA. Her pamphlet Handfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett, published by Mother’s Milk Books) explores family experiences – Aylett’s of dementia and McDonough’s of autism.
Desperate for things to say – should you deliver
my eulogy – liken me to Uncle Toby. Instead of
squashing one crawling up the wall – I’d catch
it; open a window; and drop it into our garden.
Please let mourners know I was always kind to
Spiders. And bees. I always helped them out of
our pool when they flew in. I hope you will say
little or nothing about the way I treated people.
Spiders destroy insects. Bees make honey. But
people? Don’t get me started! I did try to be big
David Alpaugh’s poems have been published in poetry journals from Able Muse to Zyzzyva and his work was included in California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present. His collection Counterpoint won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and he has been a finalist for Poet Laureate of California. His “double title” poems appear in Gargoyle, Mudlark, Spillway, X-Peri, and The American Journal of Poetry.
Debating wit her is like catching javelins
but I do appreciate da energy
coming at me.
Wun cream puff she is not
and dat suits me just fine.
I tink I’ll send wun salvo ovah her bow
just to let her know dat I’m still breathing.
In da past
she accused me of carpet bombing.
I don’t deny dis.
I have even been known
to scream like wun banshee
and bite da heads off of rats
to get results.
Wun pensive sensitive approach
wuzn’t always my forte.
In da old arms race dat followed
we both went nuclear
and da big mushroom cloud
has taken awhile to disappear.
Dat we can even be friends today
is wun mystery in itself.
Maybe all dat poetic radioactivity
mutated our brains
and gave us wun sense of wisdom.
but it’s not like we’re chanting mystic oms
or sharing scriptures wit each adah.
At dis morning’s coffee shop get together
I notice dat she’s wearing
wun double-sided holster just like I am
wit two loaded six-shooters
ready foa action.
Dere might be anadah OK Corral hullabaloo
wit wun lively word exchange
but at least da bullets aren’t lethal.
Nowadays we’re able
to just let ‘um bounce of of our chests
like two super heroes
who have somehow managed
to live wit da kryptonite.
Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and in American-English. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature. Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Rattle, Juked, Otoliths, and Hawai’i Review, among others. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature. He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
My grandmother told me that in the best restaurants, the chefs tore the lettuce into the smallest fragments. So, I set to work. Tearing smaller and smaller into the salad bowl. Feeling useful. Staying out of the way while she and my sister prepared Hungarian Goulash or Cornish Game Hens.
When we passed the Santa ringing the bell, my grandmother put a dollar into the slot of his metal bucket. The Salvation Army does wonderful things for poor people. I carried this lesson, too. Made a point of giving bell-ringers the change after I bought my Hootie and the Blowfish CD at FYE.
I grew up in a place and time that were safe. We locked doors more out of my father’s city sensibilities than necessity. Never heard of any meaningful crime on the news, and I walked up and down the street to my friend’s house at all hours of the day and night without fear.
Then my sister’s friend got mugged. Knife point by a man in a ski mask.
Days later, we sat at my grandmother’s table. This girl was still shaken. A tall, pretty girl with close-cropped blond hair. She recounted the story. More vulnerable than I’d ever seen her. I thought maybe I should take her hand or something.
My grandmother put her wrinkled, liver-spotted hand over the girl’s smooth, tan fingers and gave them a squeeze. (I thought that to be a lesson). She waited for the girl to finish the story. All she could remember of the man who attacked her – the only identifying characteristic – was his hairy, hairy hand.
My grandmother asked, was he black?
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is an alum of Oregon State’s MFA Program. He won Bayou Magazine’s Knudsen Prize for fiction and his work has been published in journals including The Normal School and Bellevue Literary Review. He can be found here or on Twitter @miketchin