Two Chairs by Sharon Lask Munson

two chairs sharon lask munson james katt

i

The watchmaker leans forward
in the wooden desk chair.
Lines up his tools—
drills, files, brass hammers.
He slides one last dial
into a brown mailing envelope,
blinks back weariness.

Winter’s frost painted windows
reflect a pale light.
He buttons his overcoat,
pulls on galoshes, gloves,
snaps off the overhead,
bolts the door.

He drives Woodward Avenue
crushed in bumper traffic,
a slew of workers
approaching the John Lodge Freeway
heading home.

ii

The child kneels
on a straight-back chair, coloring
as winter curls around the house.
Her landscape—emerald green grass,
sapphire sky, oversized flowers
in shades of amber, saffron, sand.

She listens for his car on the drive,
crunch of tires, spitting ice;
sprints at the sound
of his key in the lock,
rasp of the front door,

and caught in mid-flight
her ribboned braids
sweep his cold, cold cheek.

 

First published in That Certain Blue, Blue Light Press.

 

 

Sharon Lask Munson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She taught school in England, Germany, Okinawa, and Puerto Rico before driving to Anchorage, Alaska and staying for the next twenty years. She is a retired teacher, poet, coffee addict, old movie enthusiast, lover of road trips—with many published poems, two chapbooks, and one full-length book of poetry. She now lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon. She says many things motivate her to write: a mood, a memory, the smell of cooking, burning leaves, a windy day, rain, fog, something observed or overheard—and of course, imagination. She has a pin that says, “I Make Things Up.” You can find her at http://www.sharonlaskmunson.com

 

Photograph by James Katt. Used by permission. 

#Mountains: Coast Range by Joe Cottonwood

800px-VOLCANIC_ROCKS_JUT_FROM_SEA_NEAR_KING_MOUNTAIN_COASTAL_RANGE_-_NARA_-_542917

You gentle mountains
round, folded like a sleeping woman,
you stretch under baking sun,
curl beneath stars
in sheets of fog.

Your deer comb the grass,
lizards drum the dust.
A crow calls,
the sun falls.

In courtship a boy
plays a flute
answered
by quail.

 

First published in Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

 

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Photograph of Shelter Cove in Humbolt County, California, by Tomas Sennett. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Theology by Beth Gordon

ten commandments charm bracelet theology beth gordon

You were baptized in the river, your robe bleached
white as original sin. I wore black patent leather

shoes and memorized the books of the Bible
more than others and was rewarded with a ten

commandments charm bracelet of copper
covered with fake gold. You don’t want me

to say God damnit. You believe in the fire
of lake, River Styx and unnamed dead reaching

their skeletal arms to tip over the boat. We open a bottle
of wine and I say I once knew how to walk on water

but forgot the trick when I floated down a tunnel
into the light, arrived in this mortal coil, my skin

and organs too tight, doing my best to breathe oxygen,
acclimate to Earth’s gravitational pull.

I love talking heaven and hell with you, the difference
between people who collect hair and those who eat
their own fingernails like unleavened bread.

 

 

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.

Four Micro Poems by Alexis Rotella

signs_and_stains_by_frogstar_23-d8ldta5.png

In a Letter

Mother tells me
I’m such a sweet person
when I’m not a grouch

 

A taxi ride
through Central Park
the scent of magnolia
after last night’s rape

 

Waving goodbye
to relatives
while the toilet overflows

 

My heart goes with him
as my husband
leaves the table –
a friend’s joke
about Italians

 

 

Alexis Rotella has been writing poetry since the 1970’s. She served as president of The Haiku Society of America as well as its house organ, Frogpond. Founder of Prune Juice, a still active senryu journal, Alexis is also a well known mobile photographer and licensed acupuncturist in Arnold, Maryland. She has written dozens of books including the curation of Unsealing Our Secrets (MeToo poems) available on Amazon and Kindle.

 

Painting Signs and Stains by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Mountains: Mischief Mountain by Kenneth Pobo

A2 Mischief Mountain Ken Pobo Jenn Zed

After the witch melts, a bad bout of water,
we see her steam and the monkeys get happy.
All is well. But wait! She’s not really gone.
Her steam became a mountain
and anyone who climbs her faces great danger.
She shakes the earth,
brings you to your knees. She can un-sky
a lightning bolt to aim at your heart.

You might be walking to the Emerald City,
historically a difficult journey,
and run into her mountain. So much
for being in a hurry to arrive. You think,
oh well, it’s not a very tall mountain,
I’ll make it. That’s the thing about mountains.
Size can mean little. Put your ear to the ground
and listen for a rumble.
That’s her.

Becoming a mountain wasn’t in her plans,
but she’s adjusted. Locals call it Mischief Mountain
which she likes. Under a full moon
she admits she got way too crazy
over a pair of slippers. Now
she makes wildflowers, some poisonous,
and from her peak she casts spells so potent
that she can turn the sun into a cheddar-colored
ping pong ball that she slams across
several darkening worlds.

 

First published in A New Ulster.

 

 

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His forthcoming chapbook of haiku and tanka will appear from Yavanika Press. It’s called Threads.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Immigration: Collateral Damage by Michael H. Brownstein

Collateral Damage Michael H Brownstein 1

Heat a bombed-hell
and you’re carrying the weight of a child
after his leg vanished
when he came upon a landmine.
First the sweat evaporates into nothing,
the skin contours to the sun:
Before you, a fresh water beach,
muscles cramping, you want to lie in the sand,
but first you need to plunge into water.
There is no beach, no fresh water,
only the red liquid of conflict,
too much collateral damage.
The boy’s bone stabs into your arm.
Heat, too, has weight.
You need the beach, fresh water.
You need to shake your head clear of sunlight.
to close your eyes to dizziness.
If you put the object down,
where will that leave you? Where will you be?
How much further to a safe place?
Your lips lipsticked with dust and death.
The boy is still breathing,
but you, your heart races.
Mid-Missouri, July,
the temperature over a hundred,
humidity pushing to a hundred ten.
The war has been over for years.
The object you carry is yourself.

 

First published in H.E.A.R.T.

Collateral Damage 2 Brownstein

 

Bio: 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: Fractured Lullaby in a Zinke Landscape by J.P. Dancing Bear

iatm_2_3_2_by_frogstar_23-dcafugo.png 
"Did I mention I'm a geologist?"  --often told lie by Ryan Zinke*
  
Who doesn't look at the mountain     and wonder,
What could that be put to use for?
Who doesn't look        where the ancestors are buried,
and wonder    what their time would be like
stuffed                        full of chemicals?.
 
Who doesn't look at the mountain     and think,
How can I break that down for its minerals?
Why wouldn't the spirits        in the water, rocks,
and trees, not want     to be free         of their bonds
and      their    children?
 
Who doesn't look at the mountain     and ponder,
Where did all this natural resource come from?
Is the spirit energy     trapped in the rocks               not happy
in its home?    Who says, Granite,    Shale,             Gold,               Ore,
Uranium,        and thinks       themselves      as liberator or hero?
 
Who doesn't look at the mountain                 and ask,
Could I own this mountain    or sell it?
All the spirits              and ancestors are                   thinking
About the government           word,                                       relocation,
And how          much more     the heart                                                can break.

 

 

J. P. Dancing Bear (Featured Poet, October, 2017) is co-editor for the Verse Daily and Dream Horse Press. He is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently, Cephalopodic (Glass Lyre Press, 2015), and Love is a Burning Building (FutureCycle Press, 2014). His work has appeared or will shortly in American Literary Review, Crazyhorse, the DIAGRAM and elsewhere.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

 

*Editor’s Note: According to Wikipedia, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has a B.S. (couldn’t resist) in Geology but has never worked in the field.