Le chant du Styrène (Yellow) by James Miller

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This morning in the kitchen,
as I swallowed the last inch
of a near-soft
banana

I heard a neighbor’s cry,
wordless and brutal
as Babylon.

I asked my wife, deodorizing
in the bath, what she heard.
A cat, mewling, crushed
by a wheel?

Driving to campus,
I passed the remnants
of the old hospital.

With that bulk
wiped clean, you can see
the burnoff at the plants
across the bay—

throb of pale gas flare,
blurred and rippled
in a smear of heat.

 

 

James Miller is a native of Houston, Texas. Recent publications include Cold Mountain Review, The Maine Review, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Main Street Rag, Verdad and Juked. Upcoming publications include 2 Bridges, The Write Launch, Menacing Hedge, Thin Air, The Shore, Plainsongs and The Atlanta Review.

 

Artwork by Jenn Zed

To my plus one by DS Maolalai

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and yes, sure, drunk
at the wedding
I said some things
to you
which I regret,
like dropping a plate
of potatoes,

but of course
I have my usual excuses –
people
pushing the line
you always get at weddings.
what was I to do
but curl anxiety?

“I suppose
it’s you next,
right?”
the voice
at every wedding
I attend –
date on my arm
or otherwise.

can’t we just
watch the couple
make uncomfortable speeches
without
shitting lead
on any new romance?

bringing a girlfriend to a wedding –
like winning the most beautiful
goldfish,
flapping its fins in clear plastic
and showing it off
to blowtorches.

 

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in The Eunoia Review, Kerouac’s Dog, Ariadne’s Thread, and elsewhere. He has  two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016), and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

What We Could Do by Taylor Graham

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An old coyote hunts the field released
to daylight by the death of trees –
tall pines that edged the pond, victims
of bark beetle. We couldn’t save the trees,
but reconstructed the old village
in image of where tribes would meet
by woods and meadow, cedar-bark tepees
and lean-to, a circle for sitting, dancing,
drumming. Hear the beat in your pulse,
your footstep, or is that the wind?
The people lived until they passed.
There was a burning to release spirit,
a long cry. No burial a bear can plunder,
as miners plundered rock till it bled.
Once you touched a broken stone
still standing, and it fell away in your
hand. A chasm or a healing.
Grizzly is gone from the land, Raven
stays to tell the stories. An old Coyote
hunts the margins we’ve left him,
a leaf fallen between pages
of history and myth, unwritten spaces
for releasing the question,
the lament, a poem, a story in song.

 

 

Taylor Graham has been a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler for
many years, and served as El Dorado County’s inaugural poet laureate
(2016-2018). Married to a forester/wildlife biologist (Hatch, retired
now), she helped with his bird conservation projects and was a
volunteer wilderness ranger, with her search dog, for two summers on
the Mokelumne. She lives with Hatch, dog Loki and cat Latches on five
acres on the outskirts of Rescue. She’s included in the anthologies
Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold
Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University/Heyday Books). Her latest
book is Windows of Time and Place: poems of El Dorado (Cold River
Press, 2019).

 

Original photograph by Btcgeek.

Three Poems by Barbara Eknoian

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Baptism

My powerful father lay in a coma
I remembered when he said,
“I was never baptized.”
I thought then,
someday, when you’re an old man,
somehow, we’ll get you baptized.

I rushed home and called
my Bible prayer leader
asking tearfully,
“I can baptize my father,
can’t I ?”

I put some water in a small bottle,
and placed it in my purse.
At his bedside, I opened the vial,
wet my fingers, and made
The sign of the cross
on his bald head.

I said, “I baptize you
in the name of the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit.”

I was afraid he’d open his eyes
and say, “What the hell are you doing?”
Just to be certain the baptism took,
I did it a second time.

First published in Chiron Review.

Sunday

Up at five, I dress and drive to my son’s house.
He packs, while I sweep tile floors,
rake up kids’ tiny toys then vacuum rugs.

He fills boxes of odds and ends: food from the pantry,
lotions and medicine from chests,
a bicycle helmet and exercise weights from his office.

We put his dogs, Nickie and Miko into the back seat.
Raised outside, they’re not used to being corralled in a car.
My daughter holds on to them so they don’t jump up front.

My son is hiding regret that he’s losing his home.
We need to help and be here for him.
Today is Sunday, this is church.

First published in Chiron Review.

Going Home

I used to see her stooping down,
planting rows of lettuce,
resting sometimes on the stone bench
next to the goat pen.
Or, in her cellar kitchen,
the Italian radio station playing
while she busily stirred a large pot
of tomato sauce, or kneaded
huge mounds of dough to bake bread.

I never heard Grandma laugh out loud.
Her eyes were sad, soft and brown.
Her birthday, a secret, never celebrated
after she crossed the Atlantic
and her baby girl Mary died at Ellis Island.

I never knew much about Grandma.
She didn’t speak my language,
and I wondered why she looked so sad.
When she passed away,
Aunt Mary told me Grandma
once rode horses bareback in Calabria,
and had accompanied her father
to weddings where she played the mandolin.

Now, I think of her riding down a country road,
her long hair flying in the wind,
a mandolin strapped to her back,
and I hear her laughing
as she turns around and smiles back to all of us.

 

 

Barbara Eknoian is a poet and novelist. She is a long-time member of Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop in Long Beach where she’s happy to practice her craft. Her poetry books and novels are available at Amazon. She lives in La Mirada, CA with son, daughter, three grandsons, and three dogs (which she never picked out). She’s always reminded that she has never lost her Jersey accent.

The Curious Case of the Lonely Owl by Trish Saunders

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I am thinking of the owl again. Last night, its shadow
moved across the wallpaper;
this does not mean the raptor was actually here.

Could have been another miracle, like the giant egg
that hatched beside my kitchen stove,
puny head poking out and croaking for its ma,
who didn’t answer, of course, being dead for a thousand years.

I accept these things, like I don’t argue with a scarlet sky
falling into the ocean

or a white cow of a moon bossing the tides around.

Back in the kitchen now, every cupboard door hangs open,
good excuse to pour a glass of amontillado.

My secret hope, my fear– the thing will find someone else,
or reappear as a moth, fluttering against a naked bulb.

 

 

Trish Saunders publishes poems from Seattle and Honolulu and, in her imagination, from the shores of Crater Lake, Oregon. Her poems have been in Califragile, Pacific Voices, Right Hand Pointing, Eunoia Review, among others.

 

Photograph by Twhelton.

Blued by Kushal Poddar

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The blue walls remember
making love, made
with a cab waiting below,
and the crow who caws
whenever two strangers thus mate
on this bed misses this show
because the fishermen
return from the blue ocean, and
on their brine, wet wood
lie silver still half alive.
The freshness of a goodbye tingles strangely.
On a live wire run two blind mice.
The blue remembers not
when this town was built
or with what amount of love and necessity.
Blue doesn’t know what blue is.

 

 

Kushal Poddar has authored The Circus Came To My Island, A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Understanding The Neighborhood, Scratches Within, Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems, Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems, and now Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel (Alien Buddha Press).

 

Photograph by Johan. 

Your Voice Surprised Me by Linda Wimberly

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Rising out of parched pages,
it soared
above the drowsy nod of drone.

Of course I couldn’t see you,
but I could hang every word
on a narrow line, suspend them
above the dusty floor
and watch while they danced
on staccato beats.

Or I could take the words
down a minor scale
and listen as your voice descended
into a midnight kind of blue.

Your voice surprised me.
As I listened,
it wasn’t hard
to follow you
into a darkened room
and close the door.

 

First published in Kalliope – a journal of women’s literature & art.

 

 

Linda Wimberly is a writer, artist and musician from Marietta, GA. A former Vermont Studio Center resident in writing, her poetry has appeared in The Raw Art Review, Lunch Ticket, Stone River Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems and others; and a short story appeared in Cricket. She is a self-taught, abstract artist who works in acrylic, oil and mixed media and her images have appeared in or been cover art for Critical Pass Review and Inscape Magazine. Her image “Woman on the Move” won the 2019 Art Contest for So to Speak: feminist journal of language and art. (lindawimberly.com)

 

Original painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.