Broken Doll by Kim Whysall-Hammond

I broke the doll almost on purpose
Trying to fit her into the toy tank

Determined to play my way
My own game not theirs

Broken dolls littered the playroom
Symbols of a girl who wasn’t

Broken dolls litter the promenade
Broken bodies strew the road

He broke them all on purpose
Because they do not play his game

 

 

Kim Whysall-Hammond trained as an astronomer and now works in IT (specifically data networking). She finds beauty and wonder in what others consider strange places. Although she’s been writing poetry since girlhood, she’s only recently started submitting. Her work is published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Your One Phone Call, In Between Hangovers, Amaryllis, and Peacock Journal. She also shares poems at
https://thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com/ [1] in a rather free fashion for an Englishwoman.

To the Mothers at Buffalo Creek by Catie Marie Martin

On February 26, 1972, Pittston Coal Company’s coal slurry impoundment dam broke after several days of steady rain, unleashing approximately 132,000,000 gallons of black waste water. With a crest of 30 feet, the water flooded the homes of over 4,000 people and killed 125 members of the surrounding West Virginia mining community.

What does it feel like when it rains? Do you clench
your teeth, drown out the pitter-patter with the screech
of the teakettle? What does it feel like to catch your face
in a sidewalk puddle, as the gasoline swirls about your reflection
and turns your cheeks to a kaleidoscope? Are you afraid
it will swallow you up?

Surely the day will come when you no longer shy
from grocery carts, from rotisserie chicken,
from bicycles. Surely knotted necklaces will cease
to remind you of fallopian tubes. Surely tulips,
bending from their jars, will cease to remind you of the
gravitational tug of your knees to the ground.

I know the measures you have taken.
I know you cleaned your ears with sponges
after the flood pulled down your walls
like pants.

I know Russian dolls in perfect rows mock you,
with their hollow chests that are so easily filled
by one another.

So, I have to ask:
If your day will come, you,
whose bones and branches all at once
broke in two, whose backyard oak trees
turned to sand as the earth devolved and crunched
against itself, as the river browbeat your home to rubber –

Then surely I, who tapers away from windows like a curtain,
I, to whom the entire world smells like a Carolina motel
and sounds like a mistuned clarinet –
Surely I will one day dry like mildew
and unfold like cardboard. Surely I will unfurl
like ribbon and settle like stone.

 

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Catie Marie Martin is currently a student at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BA in English from Mississippi State University, where she worked as the poetry editor for the school’s literary magazine,The Streetcar, as well as the managing editor for the student newspaper, The Reflector. Catie Marie’s poetry has previously been published in The Streetcar and in the University of Illinois’s Ninth Letter.

American River at Twilight by Jeff Burt

From the crushed granite foothills of the Sierras
I hear the call of Steinbeck in the river,
the struggles of laborers in the field
three hundred miles away,
the reservoirs flush with winter melt
peace-full yet not waters that will stay put,
never the still waters that Psalms has called,
the rush to reach roadside eucalyptus
shedding ribbons of bark in the winter
winding along Highway 101,
cascading to the curse of rocks pulled
from the outcropping by Jeffers to build his house.
I hear mariachi bands, sweeping water
like strums of vihuelas, the triumphal brass
of the common man in the deep splash
of water eroding the rocks of property.
In the river I see a flash of gold, my eyes search
the dry pan of the Sacramento Valley,
then, like water, head for the coast.

 

Jeff Burt lives in California with his wife amid the redwoods and two-lane roads wide enough for one car. He works in mental health. He has work in The Watershed Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Spry, Atticus Review, and The Monarch Review. He was the featured 2015 summer issue poet of Clerestory, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Review Narrative Poetry Prize.

Chartreuse by Stephanie L. Harper

Artwork: Chartreuse, by Stephanie L. Harper

 

Sour-apple-flavored candy

The team color of your alma mater’s rival

A jacket that never gets misplaced

The labial-nasal fricative of choice
for cicadas & fire-flies on a summer’s night

The vaguely perturbing chortle
of that quintessentially hip grandma
who reclaimed her youth through Yoga

The tinkle of that crystal bell
you long ago purchased in Prague for a song

An herbal cold remedy’s fizz

Key-lime pie’s tang

The fizz & the tang of a Midori Sour on the rocks
& the fuzzy socks
that you wouldn’t be caught dead in

The vinyl stool you still covet in your mother’s kitchen
& the satiny ribbon you once got for honorable mention

In other words:
the dessert menu’s less lethal option
for the lactose intolerant on a date

 

 

Stephanie L. Harper grew up in California, attended college in Iowa and Germany, completed graduate studies and gave birth to her first child in Wisconsin, and lives with her husband and children in Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Slippery Elm Literary Journal, Rattle Magazine, Ground Fresh Thursday Press, Figroot Press, and elsewhere.

Three Poems by Ali Jones

Oracle Bones
It always begins with a dance,
one that goes on and on for hours,

with old women shouting and stamping
their weight. You have to dance

out of your body and cast your bones
into the blaze before the story

can be told. Open the door to the fire,
coil yourself tight to the embers,

part the shadows and peer
through the world’s fabric.

Awake, swift in the blood,
make a tent for the moon

and a drum, pitch it beyond
the everyday, at a cross roads,

where people play knuckle bones
and no one can reach around the edges.

Oracles are only every ordinary,
the magic is in the eye that seeks,

an everyday spelling of piles of stones,
stacks of beans, the unravelled yarn

in a bag, deep within, where the heart
of a dream fire never burns out.

Howl
Low head, a gleam of teeth,
she could not avoid the gaze
of green fire and mountains,
the pack with singing voices
calling to one another
through the silvered trees.

Stretch out your hand,
the moon is waiting
like a tight skinned drum,
the cold white light,
flashes of stars, needling
through like shards of glass.

Together they cruised
dirt road and old tracks,
in blue afternoons, searching
for something almost found
again and again.

The fretwork fingers of thorns,
the copper fire of the river bed,
the sun bleared deer, eyes
remembering panic, the faint traces
of shit and loam.

Never be late for your meeting
with the pack, beyond the trees,
in a place with no name, between
parallel lines of momentum,
from laughter to skin and bone.

Pack is all, shadows, formed
in slant light, that linger
in the blue hour, a fear
in your fabric, worn like blood
and fur. It is what we dream about
behind our names, when we fear
losing everything in the forest,
when gods step through shadows
to meet us, in the blackness
of the everyday, a pinprick away,
like something wild, tethered.

Flood
The water has taken back the land,
broken things and floated them away,

as if it were following a plan, plastic bucket
bicycle, red mouthed toy, whirling beneath

the shock headed trees and shattered rooves.
Under it, things rise to the surface,

weaving through roses and lilac,
water snails, minnows and sticklebacks

wake at night and dream their way up.
Old things dislodge to bone puzzles,

skin tremors away in the clouding dark,
and water smiles in the empty faces

of the submerged.

Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian. Her pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press in 2018.

Denial by Trish Hopkinson

The surface of silent sorrow
where eyelids fold, half-rimmed
and wrapped sober over

Hiroshima and Dresden.
Colored by denial and closely
guarded, loss has haunted us.

Three generations unforgivable
and past knowing. An ancient
self-portrait from a different dimension

fell from the lemon tree in nameless grief.
The firestorm of emasculation heated
the force of life, horrifying, enormous,

flat, and arranged. The unmanned walls
of flame, unblinking in death-dealing—
a stalemate in exhaustion reflects

the inferno truth. The extraneous layer
more alive than not. Its body tenses, blurred
in abandon, grasping the essential,

and transforming space. It whispers
of progeny—a sea of corpses,
a field of bodies. In transgression,

the atmosphere speaks
her name again
and again.

–a found poem from A Chorus of Stones by Susan Griffin, chapter 1, pgs. 3-17.

–originally published by The Fem.

 

Trish Hopkinson has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. A Pushcart nominated poet, she has been published in several anthologies and journals, including Stirring, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Chagrin River Review; and her third chapbook Footnote was published by Lithic Press in 2017. Hopkinson is co-founder of a regional poetry group, Rock Canyon Poets, and Editor-in-Chief of the group’s annual poetry anthology entitled Orogeny. She is a product director by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow Hopkinson on her blog where she shares information on how to write, publish, and participate in the greater poetry community at https://trishhopkinson.com/.

 

Editor’s Note: Trish Hopkinson is Califragile‘s Featured Poet for September! Visit again next Monday for more of her work! Click on her name in the rectangle at the bottom of this post for a list of all her Califragile poems.

“Trish Hopkinson may describe herself as a ‘selfish poet,’ but her site is an indispensable community hub for poetry lovers, with news and event listings, writing resources, and much more (including her own poems, of course).”–WordPress Discover

For poetry and writing resources, no fee submission calls, editor interviews, and essays on craft, you can follow Trish Hopkinson’s blog via email or your favorite social media here: https://SelfishPoet.com.

 

Two Poems by Theric Jepson

Doline

The realtor failed to mention the spiritual sinkhole beneath our home before we signed here and here and there and once more on this one to trade one third of our income these next thirty years for a home surrounded by the dying and the absent. Someday we’ll no longer be the youngest couple on this street and the land shall flow with milk and honey and, more to the point, wifi, letting evil find easier passage through our lives rather than taking up residence a thousand feet from our front door, signaling the lost and the angry of our wired world that here is the hell from which thy demons came.

El Niño

And there arose false messiahs shewing
forth great signs and wonders insomuch
that they deceived even the very elect….

Matthew 24:24

March 2016

A pair of atmospheric rivers merging on the Bay
brought cries of allelujah to our parched lips.
Our Savior was a showy savior, blowing rain
across the Bay Bridge—for our Lord was in the wind
(better the wind than an earthquake!)
making the same patterns any god makes
when he pounds mud with his fist. He dashed water
into the bridge’s towers making surfable waves
rebound, blowing our Mazda5 to the edge of its lane.

Dams are spilling by morning,
but the Central Valley floor
has sunk a hundred feet since Chinatown,
and California is not a balloon.

We can’t repay to a shuttered bank
no matter the nostalgia
for our flirty teller’s perfume.

(Her name was Betty
and her hair was manzanita.)

Theric Jepson’s poetry has appeared in a number of publications, most of which have never claimed regret for their decision. His chapbook After Chadwick was released in 2015. If you wish to visit him online, alas, thmazing.com is currently crippled by corrupted code, but googling thmazing and seeing what comes up is probably more fun anyway.