Dear Mrs. Brown, Your Husband Whimpers When He Comes…by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Mrs. Brown Alexis Rhone Fancher painting by Heinrich Uhl

1. “I want my wife to know all about us,” he says. We’re close together on the couch, but not yet touching. She needn’t worry. “What is there to know? Just tell her I don’t fuck married men.” I see his sad face crumble. Mr. Brown hates the truth almost as much as he hates bad language. Sometimes I curse to rile him, but tonight it just comes out. We’re back from dinner at Micelli’s on Melrose, that lonely table in the back in the dark and so far from San Pedro no one he knows will find him. I suddenly want more out of life.

Mr. Brown pulls me to him. His tweed sports coat scratches my bare arms. I breathe in his Amphora pipe tobacco and English Leather. He smells like my dad, who never held me like this. Unused to kissing, Mr. Brown’s tentative lips brush mine. I push my tongue past his teeth. His erection, a pup tent of unrequited love. Against my better judgement, I let him dry hump my thigh.

Afterward, I fix my hair at the hallway mirror while Mr. Brown fastens a locket around my neck. I can make out an “L” in bright diamonds. It is not my initial. “L?” my eyes catch his in the reflection. “For Lust,” he smiles. (Or maybe L for his wife, Lucia, or L for Leaving her, I don’t say.) L for Lonely. Looney. Lost, I think as Mr. Brown’s hands roam my body, the shiny locket the price of admission. I stare at our mismatched reflections, the almost incestuous nature of our non-romance. I finger the Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso watch he gave me last fall (that rough patch when he left his wife for all of a week until she threatened suicide, again). Mr. Brown showed me the texts. Before he went home, he gave me Lucia’s watch. “She’ll never miss it,” he said as he fastened it on my wrist. She has excellent taste.

2. When I visit Mr. Brown’s bedside after the quadruple bypass, I put the extravagant blue iris bouquet in a vase, perch on his hospital bed and fill him in about my fucked-up life, the flood in the kitchen, my crappy new boss. He complains about the hospital food and remarks how a heart attack can truly mess up your day. I confess how lonely I am without him. “I’m thinking of leaving my wife,” he tells me. I let him feel me up. “My heart attack is a wake up call,” he says. “Carpe Diem.”

On a hunch, I ask him when he’s buying the red Corvette. “Blue,” Mr. Brown says. “I ordered it in blue.” Like the irises. Like the hospital walls. “Like the way I am without you,” I admit. I’m about to ask him to take me along to pick up the new wheels, when Lucia and her friends waltz into the room. They see him, all over me, on his bed, her lost locket around my neck, her fancy watch on my wrist; Mrs. Brown’s face darkens. Her friends gather her close, circle the wagons until I depart. Out of the corner of my eye I see her grab the blue irises from their vase, hurl them across the room.

3. By the time I find out, Mr. Brown has been dead a year. I haven’t seen him in a decade. I was not going to put out; he would not divorce Lucia. I never did ride in that blue Corvette. Soon I found myself a French photographer with a large dick and no wedding ring. I don’t know if Mr. Brown ever found anyone. His obituary read, Stand up guy, great husband, dad. Married sixty-six years. Pillar of the community. Charitable. A churchgoer. He once swore to me I was his church.

I have the offerings to prove it.

 

First published in ENTER HERE, 2017 KYSO Flash Press.

 

 

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Plume, Rattle, Diode, Rust & Moth, Nashville Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems,(2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), and Enter Here (2017). A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.
http://www.alexisrhonefancher.com

 

Painting by Heinrich Uhl.

Smoke by Patricia Nelson

Georges_de_La_Tour_006

Angled like the waves
are extinct lovers
who say time and distance
with a silver light.

Their breaths still rise
distinct as ions, commemorate
their thoughtless pulsing—
thoughtless only in the moment.

They are the grey dissolving opal
at the tip of the flame,
smoke undulant with stone and fish-scale.

They lift the weight and shine
not wholly seen
but gathering everything.

The space
between burning and nothing.

 

 

Patricia Nelson is a retired attorney who has worked with the Activist group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is Spokes of Dream or Bird, Poetic Matrix Press.

 

Detail of painting by Georges de la Tour. 

#Mountains: Reign of Ash by Michael H. Brownstein

12992_Hawaii-Volcanoes-National-Park-web

This is one of those nights you never dream,
The sky not on fire, but burning.
Falling ash and ember. An orange cantaloupe moon. Nosebleeds. Diarrhea.

The volcano dome collapses, a sudden cloud, and night is hyphenated.
A rain of black ash
And all of the stars drop from sight in bundles.

The people come out of their homes and stand on their verandas,
A people of the long knife and volcanic dust,
Skin hard with ash, hair ash-poisoned, ash sweat stew.

Spirits roam the roads and pathways, find life in the old ones,
The village’s simple center crowded into the hill,
Welcomes the voices of the dead.

Later island rescue comes with breathing masks,
A church opens its doors early to pray for rain,
Goats come from their hiding places to shake themselves free.

All day dust clouds landscape and window.
The mountain sacrifices itself to lahars and spirit people.
Everything, every leaf, every iguana, every ghost wrapped in ash.

 

 

Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.

#Mountains: Mountain Ants by Tamara Madison

photo by Davidi. Mountain Ants Tamara Madison

Up here the sky
is a thin blue skirt
the dusty summer sunlight
smells of woodsmoke
and pine
and ants grow big
and black as berries.

I watch them follow
their secret trails
in the fine mountain dust,
envy them their purpose
and their path, wonder
at their sturdy black bodies,
imagine a breakfast
of ant jam.

 

First published in Wild Domestic, by Pearl Editions.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

 

Photograph by Dawidi.

Crescent Smile by Victoria Crawford

BattleofIssusDetail Albrecht Altdorfer Victoria Crawford Crescent

The Moon smiling
Cheshire cat grin,
dimpled star chin
twinkles below.

Alice questions
to stay or go;
the Moon may show
her mysteries.

 

 

Victoria Crawford is a poet from Monterey, California, currently living in Thailand where nature explodes in the serious season of rain and sun called the monsoon. Holy days are governed by the fullness of the moon not the sun calendar.

 

Detail of painting, Battle of Issus, by Albrecht Altdorfer.

Three Poems by Kala Ramesh

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trying to merge
with twilight’s oneness: but
those monkeys
go nonstop
inside my chattering mind

 

on a forest trail
as leaves change colour
I admire
the walking meditation
of insects

 

forest bathing
I tune in
to the trees

 

forest bathing was first published in Holden Arboretum Haiku Path.

 

 

Kala Ramesh – Poet, editor, anthologist, Kala’s initiatives culminated in founding INhaiku to bring Indian haiku poets under one umbrella in 2013. She has taught haiku and allied genres at Symbiosis International University and the Katha National Writers Workshop since 2013. To bring haiku into everyday spaces, Kala initiated HaikuWALL, haikuTRAIL, haikuTALK, haikuWORKSHOP, haikuYOUTH, haikuUTSAV, haikuDHYANA andhaikuSTAGE – a weaving together of art forms. SAMVAAD :: the open sky — a dialogue to bring writers of different poetic genres together is her latest venture. She is the editor of four haiku, tanka and haibun journals. Kala has been a speaker at several national and international literary festivals.

Kala co-edited the award winning Naad Anunaad: an Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku (Vishwakarma Publication 2016, Pune),  Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press 2018, USA) and  EquiVerse SPACE (Notion Press 2018, Mumbai), co-authored with Marlene Mountain the e-book  one-line twos (Bones Journal 2016, Denmark), authored a tanka e-chapbook Unseen Arc (Snapshot Press 2017, UK) and two print books: Haiku and the Companion Activity Book (Katha Books 2010, reprint 2017, New Delhi) and Beyond the Horizon Beyond Haiku & Haibun (Vishwakarma Publication 2017, Pune).

Trees Tell Our Future by Wren Tuatha

dead tree wall crop
The bark beetle blight burns
across Nimshew Ridge
and every other slope

on the coast. Nimshew,
little water in the language
of the people who are gone

from here. The drought weakens.
The Roundup weakens.
Three acres behind my cabin

become a Union battlefield
in the time of Trump.
the fallen stacked, crisscrossed,

fifty score. Open blasting blue.
Exposure, some lid lifted.
This place will not be woods

again in our time. Ponderosas
are prognosticators. Township
to cul de sac, people will fall

to the blight they brought.
They bought it at the mall,
stacking containers and dust

collectors, widgets to plug
in that blink or smell.
Trappings made in Turkey

for holidays of distraction.
Let us be thankful.

 

First published in The Bees Are Dead.

Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review and others. She’s editor of Califragile. Her chapbook Thistle and Brilliant was a semi-finalist in the 2018 New Women’s Voices Contest and is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

Photograph by Wren Tuatha.