#FlattenTheCurve: Chi by George Cassidy Payne

Meditating_in_urban_environment

It felt like cupping a shapeless
bubble, fragile as a Robin’s egg
but without a center. Weightless and
resting in nothingness.

My neighbor probably thought I was crazy.
I didn’t care. I had been searching so long.

I should have known
it was always with me.

 

 

George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, domestic violence social worker, adjunct professor of philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College, and a student of religion. He has degrees in the subject from St. John Fisher College, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and Emory University. He lives and works in Rochester, NY.

A Time to Morph

_pupa_--_Euploea_core_chrysalis_(6186366322)

Welcome to Califragile! With the exception of our #FlattenTheWave Call for Submission, we have paused our online activities while we enter our next phase. We plan to morph into a print anthology in the next year or so.

Since our launch in August, 2017, Califragile has been an online poetry journal publishing work, not in distinct issues, but on a daily, thrice weekly, a peppery basis or as whimsy guided, within the frame of editor Wren Tuatha’s focus, health, and free time. We’ve had the privilege of showcasing hundreds of thoughtful and creative writers from around the world. Some are world famous, others were published for the first time right here. You can enjoy all of these offerings on our site.

Are you a poet seeking to submit? Our submissions are closed currently. You can find great opportunities on Allison Joseph’s blog and Califragile Featured Poet Trish Hopkinson’s blog, in addition to the usual Submittable, Duotrope, New Pages, etc.

In order to keep up with our metamorphosis and future calls for submission, like us on Facebook and visit this site frequently.

Morning Trail by Marilyn Westfall

th
Above the cliffs, cirrus drift,
an archipelago backlit
in tones of saffron, rose. He hikes
in shadow, on cobble, gait steadied
by a talisman agave stick
handmade for these steep
switchbacks blazed with cairns
where once friends led him, the climb
blending with deer paths, ending
where sunlight spilled on water.
Jewel-like, that cold lake
fed by snowmelt, numbing
the farther they waded in,
feeling for drop-offs, judgment
blurring. Anger at their hubris
and loss stokes his grief.
He hears the granite rhythm
of his heart, takes the trail
downhill to its start.

 

 

Marilyn Westfall lives in Lubbock and Alpine Texas, and has roots in Ohio and California. Most recently, her poems were published in San Pedro River Review; Weaving the Terrain (Dos Gatos Press); Enchantment of the Ordinary (Mutabilis Press); and are forthcoming in Evening Street Review.

 

Original photograph by Jaclyn and Brian Drum.

What We Could Do by Taylor Graham

Coyote_at_Sonora_Desert_Museum_Tucson_Arizona

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.

Herman, The Sturgeon by Tricia Knoll

FunWithFish_HermanSturgeon

My palms press against the thick glass wall
between me and Herman. I nudge in
next to three young girls with ponytails.
Herman glides, a profile of fossils.

The sign to my left:

Species: acipenser transmontanus (Pacific Sturgeon) –
the largest freshwater fish in North America
Age: 70 plus years, born during World War II
Eyes: Steel gray
Length: Ten feet
Weight: 450 pounds
Genealogy: Species to 175 million years ago
Residence: Bonneville Fish Hatchery on the Columbia River –– since 1998 captive in a man-made pool fed by Tanner Creek and groundwater.
One Herman or another has circled this pool for over sixty years.

The blonde mother distracts her kids with goldfish crackers.
I’ve got the window.

Does Herman see my hands splayed on the glass?
Am I as irrelevant to him as barnacles
crusted on the container ships on the Columbia
heading through Bonneville’s locks to Lewiston?
Does his brain sense how near his river is?
How high the wall to the upper Columbia?

I lean in as if to weigh the theft
of his wild identity, this land-locked fish.
Does he always swim clockwise?
Ignoring cycles of spawning?
His eyes give away nothing.
Bottom dweller. Four barbell sensors,
armored scutes. Yet – a brain that integrates.

My blessing to this fish
through my hands, through the glass.
Bless his terrible beauty.
Does he feel how my laying-on pulses the water?

 

First published in Song of Eretz.

 

 

Tricia Knoll moved from Oregon to Vermont in 2018 – two places that underscore the importance of eco-poetry holding up beautiful places in transition due to climate crisis. Website: triciaknoll.com

#Mountains: The Path by Stella Pierides

dd

At the top of the stairway snaking up the hill, a white-washed chapel and an olive tree. Blinding sunlight. Some way to go yet. The stony stairs are narrow, a couple of hands-width before the cliff falls steeply into the sea.

Slow down, there’s no hurry. Take a deep breath. Feel the rough warmth of the rock. The wind beating against it raises the fragrance of sage, of thyme and marjoram to the skies, erases the silence.

marble wings—
in the distance
windmill ruins

Feel the salt on your lips, the urgent wind tussling your hair.
This history book under your arm, so well-thumbed, leave it here, against that rock, someone coming after you might linger, take a look.

pillars of salt—
propping her foot
on a stone

And the pebble from Amorgos you kept in your pocket all those years, add it to the cairn over there, where the path widens. Let it go. The trail is moments like this, following the light, teetering on the edge of your desires, of your sorrows.
That bench at the top, see it now, under the olive tree? This is your goal. You can rest there. Wise, gentle Persephone will hold your hand.

embalming my tongue
I rest in the shadow
of the silver-leaved olive

 

 

Stella Pierides is a poet and writer born in Athens, Greece, now living in Neusaess, Germany and London, UK. She is the author of three poetry books: Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017) and In the Garden of Absence (Fruit Dove Press, 2012), both of which received a Haiku Society of America merit award; Feeding the Doves (Fruit Dove Press, 2013). Her work has also appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. Currently she manages the Per Diem: Daily Haiku feature for the Haiku Foundation.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed.

Thistle-Down By E. Pauline Johnson

Thistledown

Beyond a ridge of pine with russet tips
The west lifts to the sun her longing lips,

Her blushes stain with gold and garnet dye
The shore, the river and the wide far sky;

Like floods of wine the waters filter through
The reeds that brush our indolent canoe.

I beach the bow where sands in shadows lie;
You hold my hand a space, then speak good-bye.

Upwinds your pathway through the yellow plumes
Of goldenrod, profuse in August blooms,

And o’er its tossing sprays you toss a kiss;
A moment more, and I see only this –

The idle paddle you so lately held,
The empty bow your pliant wrist propelled,

Some thistles purpling into violet,
Their blossoms with a thousand thorns afret,

And like a cobweb, shadowy and grey,
Far floats their down – far drifts my dream away.

 

 

E. Pauline Johnson, 1861-1913.

 

Photograph by 3268auber.

 

#CampFire: Particulate Matter by Molly Fisk

800px-Woman,_Smoke_(Imagicity_717)

Untitled 11

 

First published in Rattle, Poets Respond

Molly Fisk: “So many of us live near enough to Paradise, CA to have been under the pall of smoke its burning created. I’m in Nevada City, a Sierra foothills town equally likely to burn, equally hard to evacuate. Like many others in CA, we were wearing N95 masks and staying indoors, and talking to each other about what was in this particulate matter. A phrase we didn’t think of much ten years ago, and now everyone knows.”

 

 

Molly Fisk is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nevada County, CA. She’s been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and is widely published. Her poetry collections are The More Difficult Beauty and Listening to Winter. She’s also a radio commentator for KVMR in Nevada City and NPR, and works as a radical life coach. Reach her at mollyfisk.com

 

Photograph by Graham Crumb.

#CampFire: What became ash by Jan Haag

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For Alma, who escaped the Camp Fire with her life but not her home.

Porches, steps and all, except some concrete ones
left blackened, broken off like old teeth,
not to mention flower pots and the last gasp
of roses settling in for winter, garden hoses
crinkled like charred snakes on what used to be lawn,
door frames and window frames,
front doors painted in a particular shade,
windows blasted into shards,
easy chairs, TVs, refrigerators and the art
magneted on them made by childrengrandchildren
niecesnephewsthatcutekiddownthestreet,
their toy firetrucks and dolls incinerated, their
bike frames and swingsets rendered skeletal.

How many photographs, cherished memories,
diplomas, licenses, bills, tax documents,
check stubs, notebooks, journals, novels, poems,
screenplays, love letters lie in the cinders?

How many toothbrushes and dentures, housecoats
and sport coats, bridal gowns and work boots,
bathing suits and raincoats, baseball caps and
wool scarves?

An open-mouthed deer with fire-puckered skin
pressed into the ash, along with uncountable
burrowing creatures, rabbits that could not hop
fast enough, birds, singed, then downed,
not to mention those with eyelashes and lips,
crying their last, consumed by what they could
see coming at them.

Paradise, Magalia, Nimshew, North Pines,
Morgan Ridge, Concow, Yankee Hill, Coutelenc,
South Pines, Mesilla Valley, Fir Haven, Berry Creek.

Under it all:
bones and bones and bones and bones.

And finally, after the flames did their job
consuming everything in their path—
the 85 counted and the still-uncountable souls
of the formerly two-legged and four-legged,
the winged and those that crawled and slithered—
the much-prayed for rain arrived, the day before the day
of gratitude, quenching the last of the hot spots,
muddying the ravaged earth, further entombing
the dead, clearing the air for hundreds of miles.

Those of us left downwind took deep gulps,
raised our faces to the blesséd drops, grateful
to no longer inhale the particulate of people,
their towns, their possessions, their lives,
those we may not have known but whose
molecules circulate in our bloodstreams,
who lie embedded in us.

They are ours now, we who breathe under
fresh, blue skies.

 

 

Jan Haag teaches journalism and creative writing at Sacramento City College where she advises campus publications. Jan is the author of a book of poems, Companion Spirit, published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press. She leads weekly creative writing workshops in Sacramento, has written two novels and had work published in many journals and anthologies. She is also the co-publisher of River Rock Books in Sacramento.

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.

That Mother by Roberta Beary

John_Collier_-_Reclining_Woman that mother roberta beary

My daughter is watching Frozen with friend.
I am cleaning out the linen closet.
Here is my stash of perfume samples from Bloomingdales.
I put them in a little basket.

I want to be another kind of mother.
Who comes home and climbs into bed.
Wearing nothing but sample perfume from Bloomingdales.
I want to be that mother in the Long Bar at Raffles.
Sipping the perfect Singapore Sling.

Frozen is almost over.
I take my Singapore Sling and sit near my daughter and her friend.
They open all the packets of perfume.
My daughter gets to keep the little basket.

 

 

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love(Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years(Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

 

Painting Reclining Woman by John Collier. 

#Mountains: Root of Beech by Xe M. Sánchez

Root of Beech Xe M Sanchez Hedwig Storch

Root of Beech, translated from Asturian by the author:

I am a lucky man.
My roots are nailed
in the mountains,
as the roots
of the oaks,
of the beeches
and the roots
of my ancestors.
That’s why all my poems
are made
in fog’s melancholy.
I am a lucky man.

 

Original text:

 

Raigañu de Carbayu

Ero un home afortunáu.
Los mios raigaños
tan espitaos
nes montañes,
comu los raigaños
del carbayu,
de les fayes,
y los raigaños
de los mios antepasaos.
Poro tolos mios poemes
tan fechos cola señaldá
de la borrina.
Ero un home afortunáu.

 

 

Xe M. Sánchez was born in 1970 in Grau (Asturies, Spain). He received his Ph.D degree in History from the University of Oviedo in 2016, he is an anthropologist, and he also studied Tourism and three masters (History / Protocol / Philately and Numismatic). He has published  Escorzobeyos (2002), Les fueyes tresmanaes d’Enol Xivares (2003), Toponimia de la parroquia de Sobrefoz. Ponga (2006), Llue, esi mundu paralelu (2007), Les Erbíes del Diañu (E-book: 2013, Paperback: 2015), Cróniques de la Gandaya (E-book, 2013), El Cuadernu Prietu (2015) in Asturian the language, and several publications in journals and reviews in Asturies, USA, Portugal, France, Sweden, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, India, Italy, England and Canada.

 

Photograph by Hedwig Storch. 

White Out Three Times by Don Krieger

Charlottesville torches Don Krieger White Out

After the wedding I puked,
then slept in the bushes. At first light
I drove east, no good bye, the sun
bright as a bomb. By eight

it was snowing. By ten
I was alone running sixty
in the left lane, the others
behind slow trucks or on the shoulder.

This weekend a white boy
drove into the crowd
and killed somebody. Other boys
with credit cards, K-Mart torches,
mommy’s clean muscle shirts, chanted,

You … won’t … erase … us.

First published in Vox Poetica.

 

Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher living in Pittsburgh, PA. His poetry has appeared online at Tuck Magazine, Uppagus Magazine, VerseWrights, and others, in print in Hanging Loose, Neurology, and in English and Farsi in Persian Sugar in English Tea.

Leaving Atlanta by Beth Gordon

Leaving Atlanta Beth Gordon

You want me to consider the rain, I hate
it here. I want sorghum syrup coating
everything. Gin-soaked orange peels glued
inside your mouth. It is sweltering
in this airport you are wading in,
metal detectors at the opposite gate and scraping
at peony scars on your arms. You peel back
your skin every night like mud
soaked book pages. I hate it here, this year.
Your father will die still
believing his home has vanished,
replaced with old hotel walls and strangers who feed him
cake. With unfamiliar ghosts. With
hands. I hate it here, this year
your mother will bake three-layer
buttercream cakes from her wheelchair.
Bones replaced by dust. It is pouring. Dust. I hate it here.
This year he will leave without looking
back, and you will build funerals
and sanctuaries from pouring more gin,
and the sudden dispersements of your heart.

 

 

Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous online and print journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Landlocked in St. Louis for 17 years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of Gone Lawn, a journal of poetry and progressive fiction.

 

Original photograph by Josh Hallett. 

Rattapallax!!! Frogs Eat Butterflies. Snakes Eat Frogs. Hogs Eat Snakes. Men Eat Hogs. by Wallace Stevens

rattapallax

It is true that the rivers went nosing like swine,
Tugging at banks, until they seemed
Bland belly-sounds in somnolent troughs,
That the air was heavy with the breath of these swine,
The breath of turgid summer, and
Heavy with thunder’s rattapallax,
That the man who erected this cabin, planted
This field, and tended it awhile,
Knew not the quirks of imagery,
That the hours of his indolent, arid days,
Grotesque with this nosing in banks,
This somnolence and rattapallax,
Seemed to suckle themselves on his arid being,
As the swine-like rivers suckled themselves
While they went seaward to the sea-mouths.

 

Wallace Stevens, 1879 – 1955.

Photograph: Cabins along the Skagway (or Skaguay) river in Alaska, early 20th century.  Bates Peak in background. Courtesy of G. Waldo Brown and Nathan Haskell Dole. Author unknown. 

In the Fall of the Summer of Love by Trish Saunders

woman-865021_1280-e1515027897240

The year I turn 18, I meet the man who will love me
and stop loving me. This is also the summer I turn bronze.
Each morning, I drop a coin into a bowl near the bed.
Let it not be today.
If he stirs, I press my fingers over his mouth
until he falls back asleep.

One morning I begin swallowing the coins,
a penny at a time. When I try to speak, my tongue clangs
against my teeth. My hair unspools in copper coils.
Of course, this becomes too much for him.
Late September he leaves, knocking books off their shelves
with his umbrella in his rush to the door.

I race to the bathroom mirror. I’m still breathing.
When I turn on the faucet, my late mother’s voice gushes out,
Now you can buy anything you want.
Love is yours.
Adjusting the folds of my robe:
Thank you, Mother, I am ready now.

 

 

Trish Saunders divides her time between Seattle and Honolulu. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Gnarled Oak, Busted Dharma, Blast Furnace Press, Off the Coast, Poets and Poetry, and Here/There Poetry.

 

Photograph by Foundry, via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons.

Mother’s Day Poems, Clutch Two

Regarding The Unreliability Of Buses in The Desert In Late July by Alexis Rhone Fancher

The Girl
She wouldn’t last the afternoon.

Chalk white. Redheaded determination against
the soul-crushing Mohave.

What kind of life was it anyway,
when the closest thing to civilization was a mall
twenty miles away?

The pretty ones, her mama said,
rarely had far to walk.

The Mother
Nothing ages a woman like a dead kid.
Except, maybe, the desert.
Skin turned to parchment.
Age spots on her hands. A penance.

She stuffed them in her pockets.

The Man
The girl climbed into his dusty pick up.
Those tiny shorts, metal zipper flashing back
the sun, playing off the skin of her inner thigh.

It was like a dream, he told the police.

The Mall
glistened. Macy’s. Target. The Body Shop. Mrs. Field’s. The Sharper Image.
Victoria’s Secret. Wetzel’s Pretzels.

Every Kiss Begins With Kay.

The Mother
She sat at the table in the small trailer and
watched the sun flatline behind the highway.
Then she raised her glass of hard lemonade.

Here’s to the dead kid. She saluted
the faded snapshot, tacked up above the sink.

The blue-eyed girl in the photo
looked right through her.

Outside, the highway trembled as the bus
whizzed by, asphalt searing the tires,
their high whine a love song, a murmur.

My girl. The one with big ambition.
We all figured she’d be the one to get away.

 

for Chelsea Kashergen

First published in Loch Raven Review.

 

That Mother by Roberta Beary

My daughter is watching Frozen with friend.
I am cleaning out the linen closet.
Here is my stash of perfume samples from Bloomingdales.
I put them in a little basket.

I want to be another kind of mother.
Who comes home and climbs into bed.
Wearing nothing but sample perfume from Bloomingdales.
I want to be that mother in the Long Bar at Raffles.
Sipping the perfect Singapore Sling.

Frozen is almost over.
I take my Singapore Sling and sit near my daughter and her friend.
They open all the packets of perfume.
My daughter gets to keep the little basket.

 

Lost in the Lines of Laundry by Jeff Burt

Three laundry lines in the backyard,
poles tilted toward each other
like an old couple, towels like windows,

sheets like doors, fresh opportunities
to happy worlds of hide-and-seek
where one boy is never found,

lost in the lines, sheets ruffled,
clothes pins scattered, basket hollow,
mother screaming, sisters crying.

Decades later the same discomfort
she said, a continent away.
Today at the dryer she shook
a sheet hoping I would fall out.

 

Diary Excerpt from a Year When I Hated Mother’s Day by Wilda Morris

It is hard hearing yourself called
a saint for adopting five children
when you know you are in
over your head, when the shawl
across your shoulders is guilt,
when the temper you never knew you had
is the warp, you sharp tongue
the woof of a tapestry of failure,
of flaws, of fault. Your hyper child
pulls his siblings into the vortex
and the whirlpool spins you
out of control. You take a bad
book’s parenting advice,
exit the back door and let loose
with a primal scream.
All it accomplishes is a sore throat,
a neighbor’s strange look.

 

Detangling by Maya Wahrman

I’m washing my hands,
the water scalds
then is comfortably hot.
Soap, lather, it hits
me, the smell of sarkál,
the Israeli conditioner my mom
once rubbed into our scalps, certain
soaps in this life smell
like this, that time
I had lice, the long salty
day at the beach. Last night
I was held asleep by
broad shoulders, the kind
into which you melt
protected. My unruly
hair tickling his chest.
But this strong smell,
chemical secrets and
security, a softness
that can only belong
in the past. My ima
sitting with me by
the tub, carefully combing,
my small frame
in her smooth thighs,
her free thumb circling
against my shoulder
to keep me calm.

 

Mirror by Catherine Zickgraf

She finds her firstborn son.
He appears in her Myspace search
the day he completes his childhood.

They share a cigarette on her front step
(and quit together soon thereafter).
They discuss his NA meetings, what it’s like
to be an eighteen-year-old high school junior.
She explains her hospitalization last summer—
how it surprised her to regress at thirty two.

He leans in to wrap arms around her shoulders,
sun icing over behind tree fringe,
smoke sky sliding into horizon. They wear knit hats
and both always sensed it, this bond beyond first sight.

 

Fissure by Timothy Pond

You have effected a masterful
disturbance upon the
landscape of my face.
It’s your m.o., it keeps
you dealer, driver, maestro,
Holder of the stick at the end of
the carrot,
the one and only well of
maternal approval.

Dry, dry–I drop my divining rod
in favor of an oil drill.
But in the dust bowl roulette,
neighboring farms can gush
and gush
and my one and only well
can stay dry.
And I can drill until
I crack a fissure monument
in the landscape
as the family business
perpetuates.

First published in The Bees Are Dead.

 

My Mother by Lynn Green

You were a crisp white shirt and a dry martini,
a bounding Labrador and Jackie O,
were center court at Wimbledon, essence of life itself.

 

Ripening by Megan Denese Mealor

mother was our madness
and our curves

even her silhouettes were silver

mother could grow marigolds
in november

she was our snake charmer

our static cling

 

Previously published in BROAD!

 

Nighthawks by Roberta Beary

tonight her breathing’s more shallow. i try to find her favorite songs. search quickly on my iPad. mack the knife by Bobby; replays of Vera’s, we’ll meet again. but mostly i just talk and she listens. eyes glued shut in coma-land. well past morning i kiss her rice-paper face. stroke her white hair. a voice is crying, calling mama, mama. a word back from dead. executed in the land of assimilation. just after noon mama curls in fetal position. i keep watch: rise and fall of out-of-breath beats. too soon it comes. ebb tide.

autumn coolness
enters a hand
long held in mine

First published in Tinywords.
hospice hands by Mercurywoodrose

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Verse Daily, Plume, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, Diode, Tinderbox, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. She’s the author of 4 poetry collections, including State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017), and Junkie Wife, (2018). Her photos are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Witness, Heyday, The Chiron Review, and Nerve Cowboy. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives in Los Angeles. http://www.alexisrhonefancher.com

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love (Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, with his wife and a July abundance of plums. He has work in The Monarch Review, Spry, LitBreak, Wisconsin Review, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Poetry Prize.

Wilda Morris is President of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and Past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society. Her poems have found homes in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including Christian Science Monitor, The Alembic, Chaffin Journal and The Kerf. She has won awards for both formal and free verse, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her book, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant, was published by Rockford Writers’ Guild Press in 2008. Her poetry blog is found at wildamorris.blogspot.com.

Maya Wahrman graduated from Princeton University’s Department of History with certificates in Creative Writing and Near Eastern Studies. She currently work at Princeton’s Office of Religious Life on issues of religion and forced migration. She has opinion pieces published in the History News Network and the English and Hebrew editions of Haaretz, and have had poetry published in Lilith Magazine, Love, Struggle, Resist, Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Copperfield Review, the Jewish Currents Poetry Anthology Urge, Sweet Tree Review, Heartwood Literary Magazine, and Nassau Literary Review.

Catherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan and three dozen other cities. She’s differently-abled now—walking with a cane and flying in her sleep—so her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write more poetry. Watch/read her at caththegreat.blogspot.com and run/jump while you are able.

Timothy Pond loves the Staten Island Ferry because it’s orange and a free way to escape Manhattan. She is named after the grass.

Lynn Green is British American and co-founded a Real Estate Brokerage in Austin, Texas. In 2012 she returned to college to complete a degree in creative writing and is now writing full time. Her first short story, Cheese Whiz, won a thematic competition in The Knot magazine. She has written two children’s stories, a novel, and is currently working on a series of short stories.

Megan Denese Mealor is a double Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been featured widely in numerous journals, most recently The Opiate, Maudlin House, The Metaworker, The Ministry of Poetic Affairs, Van Gogh’s Ear, Firefly, Poehemian, Fowl Feathered Review, Weekly Poetry, Visitant Lit, The Furious Gazelle, Rumble Fish, RAW, and Harbinger Asylum. Her debut poetry collection, Bipolar Lexicon: An Akathisia of Expressed Emotion, is forthcoming in October 2018 from Unsolicited Press. She also serves as a new volunteer reader for E&GJ Press. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her teens, Megan’s underlying mission is to inspire others stigmatized for their mental health. Her loves include alligators, air hockey, astrology, baking, swimming, snorkeling, crocheting, calligraphy, painting, beachcombing, ghost hunting, origami, and paintball. She lives in her native land of Jacksonville, Florida with her partner of six years, their four-year-old son, and two mollycoddled cats.

Machine Hypnotism by Jamie O’Connell

on the subway tracks
bodies collide to expose
dirt inside of their souls,
stabbed with cold eyes.

I want to fry
the skyscrapers
and use the ashes
to build mountains,

take out the garbage
into a garden,
sit and stare at
the vaporized smoke.

tyrant explosion
given birth by
closed eyes of
coal and delusion.

we swell to the chords of
a planet drowned in oil,
the sun laughs
and runs away,

orbits into
another atmosphere,
allows our moons to drift,
unbound by gravity.

 

 

Jamie O’Connell currently lives in the Bay Area, where she received her MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. Her poetry can be found in Menacing Hedge, Troop Zine, Newfound, and Forth Magazine, and her multimedia work has been exhibited in College Avenue Galleries in Oakland. She spends most of her time with her majestic zebra-striped dog/direwolf, Daisy. Visit her site here: http://www.jamieoco.com

 

Photograph by Andrew Gray.

Exploring Muir Woods by Nicole Michaels

No one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel there is more in humans than the mere breath of his body. – Charles Darwin

Lowlight plants like dolls in period dresses,
kneeling at the brown-barked legs

of giant kings, and not kings so much as
armored scouts, their plumed heads

towering in a canopy over the understory,
their knighted roots

flagging the herbaceous ground.
A coat of arms decomposes in the humus,

guarded by a standing snag
where there is not enough sun for wild roses

by pools and dragging falls
clustered by a thousand ladybugs

who whisper from spotted escutcheons.
If we could nap somewhere,

if we could curl up
in the lichen with the deer

well off the park’s groomed path,
wouldn’t we dream of timbered castles

where we gather after hunting dragons,
our strange but battle-ready steeds

tethered to the mist,
dappled chimeras

swatting at jays with tails of fern
while a boar roasts whole on a spit.

 

 

Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.

A Gift by Amy Lowell

william-adolphe_bouguereau_bouguereau_les_noisettes_1882_wc

See! I give myself to you, Beloved!
My words are little jars
For you to take and put upon a shelf.
Their shapes are quaint and beautiful,
And they have many pleasant colours and lusters
To recommend them.
Also the scent from them fills the room
With sweetness of flowers and crushed grasses.
When I shall have given you the last one,
You will have the whole of me,
But I shall be dead.

 

 

Amy Lowell, 1874 – 1925

 

Les Noisettes (1882) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Vintage Telephone Poems

Florence_Ripley_Mastin_image

From the Telephone 
by Florence Ripley Mastin (1922)

Out of the dark cup
Your voice broke like a flower.
It trembled, swaying on its taut stem.
The caress in its touch
Made my eyes close.

Eletelephony 
by Laura Elizabeth Richards (1932)

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

 

Photograph of Florence Ripley Mastin via Poetry Foundation. 

#MeToo: Draupadi by Amy Baskin

Draupadi_humiliated_RRV

Draupadi
—Heroine of the Hindu epic

let’s get this deed done right
that night he grips you with rough cold hands

that hold no heat of love
you haven’t served me well at all

takes a swig from a skin flask
stored in the folds of his dhoti

applies ointment to himself
a farmer priming a pump

oiling his plow a thousand times over
when Kauravas want to shame you

they try to pull off your clothes
tug at your very fabric yet

more silk appears
they cannot strip you of your dignity

clothe your mind in layers
too opaque for them to see through

let them leave with their bags of dice and flasks
let it be your little secret

when your eye turns eggplant purple
and you reek of sex and mangoes

say he was fumbling with a pillow
it was a new moon

say he couldn’t see in the dark
tell it over and over again

you choose your truth
filter each story through cloth into clay pots

that makes them potable
even sweet

 

 

Amy Baskin’s work is featured in Every Pigeon, apt, What Rough Beast, Riddled with Arrows, Fire Poetry Journal, The Ghazal Page, and more. She’s a 2016 Willamette Writers Kay Snow Poetry award recipient for her poem, About Face. She’s worked on revision with Paulann Petersen and Renee Watson of I, Too Collective, and participates in generative groups hosted by Allison Joseph and Jenn Givhan.

 

Painting Draupadi Humiliated by Raja Ravi Varma.

Old Manuscript by Alfred Kreymborg

Starry_Night_at_La_Silla

The sky
is that beautiful old parchment
in which the sun
and the moon
keep their diary.
To read it all,
one must be a linguist
more learned than Father Wisdom;
and a visionary
more clairvoyant than Mother Dream.
But to feel it,
one must be an apostle:
one who is more than intimate
in having been, always,
the only confidant –
like the earth
or the sea.

 

 

Alfred Kreymborg, 1883 – 1966

 

Photograph Starry Night at La Silla, European Southern Observatory.

Califragile’s Chico, CA Launch Party a Great Night; Gets News Coverage

social stewards at launch partyCT leads closing activity at launch party

C.T. Butler facilitates an activity.

Wren & CT at launch party 2

Wren Tuatha and C.T. Butler at the greeter’s table.

CT introducing Wren at the launch party

Co-Publisher C.T. Butler introduces Editor Wren Tuatha to start the readings.

Mike, Kate and Paul converse at launch party

Califragile contributing poet and organizer Paul Belz (right).

Thanks to the many Chicoans who braved an unusually cold night to celebrate the great contributors and planned projects of Califragile. Special thanks to Guillermo Mash of ChicoSol News for his photographs, video and coverage! Enjoy them here!