Itch – by Belinda Rimmer

 

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.

Heading to Kellas – by Beth McDonough

 

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.

SPIDERS…HEARTED – by David Alpaugh

SPIDERS…

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

HEARTED…

 

 

 

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.

Catching Javelins – by Joe Balaz

 

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.
Possibly

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.

Lessons – by Mike Chin

 

1
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.

2
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.

3
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.

4
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.

5
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

 

 

 

Testaments of Youth – by Marg Roberts

 

Listening to you, whistling at the sink, hands swishing
tea towel tucked in your belt, sleeves rolled to the elbow,
setting sun gleaming on hair that whitened overnight
for reasons you, a peaceful man, cannot share.

You tell me, you kissed goodbye to your bride –
The Only Girl in the World for you – she smiling
waving, steam shrouded – on packed Paragon
station, egg sandwich squashed in your pocket.

I cried reading Vera’s Brittain’s story. Her loss
of Roland, Edward, Robert and Victor, and Oh!
What a Lovely War! was not for you,
nor words like grief or sadness. Yet you, my sunny
Granddad, taught me the French for bread
was pain.

 

 

 

Marg’s poetry has been published in several magazines including Orbis, Reach, Cannon’s Mouth, Message in a Bottle and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She was Warwick’s poet laureate 2009-10. Her novel, A Time for Peace, was published by Cinnamon Press in October 2016. You can read more of her work here.

One Night – by Matt Dennison

There was a bus driver who had driven
the very same route for fourteen years
and never been able to get through
the last five lights on the green
until one night he finally
glided, dived,
swam through those last five
like there was nothing to it,
nothing at all. And then,
after dancing his way down
the street – a mysteriously
light-hearted tango that started
in the laugh of leather
against concrete –
he floated on up to his own front door
and into his own wife’s arms
whereupon he possessed her
for the first time in a very long time.

And when it was over, she purring
by his side, he smoking his
forbidden cigarette in the harsh
glow of the night and feeling like
a winner, he felt the hot end
of his satisfaction meet his flesh
and the burn of seeing what
his own desire, his own secret battle
in life had actually been and he shivered
with the hairs on his chest, suddenly grey,
for he knew – and the night was not
necessarily unkind, it was just the night –
that he would never catch the green
on those last five lights again
so he kissed his wife
and for the first time in fifteen years
surprised her for the second time
in one night.

After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made videos with poetry videographers Michael DickesSwoon, and Marie Craven.