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Five Months

September 21, 2012 Comments off

by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

May in your Bedroom

Lilacs rose beyond your window when the world
fell silent. You heard remnants worthy of lament
like a seashell pressed against an ear; petals
revealing a windy gust of secrets.

June at the Chapel

A prevailing scent of angels wafted through
his celebration of life as if the incense was made
of halos and wings amidst the gentle creep of peace.
Death brings memories where nothing’s meant to keep.

July in the Apartment

She wept alone though one door away her neighbors
eavesdropped with a glass against the wall. A throng
of listeners addicted to someone else’s sorrow
as if misery was something made to borrow.

August after the Move

All I can do is pretend to know what knowing is,
and pretending is better than knowing when
the outcome is a shaky plan at best. There’s
no such thing as sleep, though some may rest.

September in the Garage

Those dolls are missing the child they used
to play with. They sense disorder, their eyes
never blink for fear someone will think
they’re slumbering from idleness.


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Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas (website) is a six-time Pushcart nominee and Best of the Net nominee. She has authored eight chapbooks along with her latest full-length collection of poems: Epistemology of an Odd Girl, newly released from March Street Press. She is a recent winner of the Red Ochre Press Chapbook competition for her manuscript Before I Go to Sleep and according to family lore she is a direct descendent of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Top Five Men of the Cities

September 20, 2012 Comments off

by Brad Fairchild

I

His tight nylon jacket
zipped to the neck, sheathing
the hues of his tautness
from the world—the
sandaled blond feet
and shaggy mane—
the only invitations to
join him at the gallery.

II

For soccer, he waits
with friends and beer,
straight from work,
the pub chair matching
pound for hard pound
the pressure of his weight,
clad in the perfect ratio
of dress-cloth gabardine
to bracing athletic flesh.

III

The glisten of his flushed skin
caught by the light
of the single, naked bulb,
his eyes as dark as
nothingness,
his lips trembling
with unintelligible
whispers, his native tongue
dangling as on a string.

IV

Towering tree of a boy,
apologizing in hard “R”
English—so
softly, gently—
for the lateness of
the food, and
secretly, the inaccessibility
of his heart.

V

His unwashed hair,
alluring beneath the woolen
workman’s cap, like
a revolutionary in tribute
to his forebears,
a ceramic doll in tribute
to the wretched
and unbathed
of the cities of the plain.


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Brad Fairchild is an artist and writer living in Atlanta who wants to point out the lonely beauty in broken things. He wants to pay tribute to these inanimate souls by rendering them into something new and accessible to others. He is descended from a pirate, and that is somehow fitting.

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In the Rabbit Hour

September 19, 2012 Comments off

by Linda Umans

 

Nibbling
Pale yellow light
Flecked illusory
Death off the shoulder

 

   By daily dying…

 

   I pass through the window
              and roam Pennsylvania

   (The ticket holds my seat)

 

Grass still warm
Geese settling

 

   Come to be…

 


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Linda Umans enjoyed a long teaching career in the NYC public schools. She is a native of Manhattan where she lives, studies, and writes. Recent publications include poems in qarrtsiluni, YB, Terrain.org, The Broome Street Review, The Ghazal Page, Status Hat, Switched-on Gutenberg and a piece in Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.

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From FRAGMENTS, a print series

September 18, 2012 5 comments

by Marja-Leena Rathje

 

FRAGMENTS IV by Marja-Leena Rathje

FRAGMENTS IV
archival inkjet print on paper
61.5 x 82.5 cm. (24.25″ x 32.5″)
(click images to see larger versions)

 

FRAGMENTS VI by Marja-Leena Rathje

FRAGMENTS VI
archival inkjet print on paper
61.5 x 82.5 cm. (24.25″ x 32.5″)

 

More of the FRAGMENTS series of prints may be seen at the artist’s website.

 

Through her work and her blog, Finnish-Canadian artist, printmaker and photographer Marja-Leena Rathje explores a past/present blend of the organic, archaeological, and a love of rocks, along with reflections about culture, anthropology and her own Finnish roots. Home and studio are by the sea and mountains of Vancouver, while her prints have travelled around far more than she has.

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Glass Stairwells

September 17, 2012 1 comment

by Sarah J. Sloat

At night when the office workers turn home, the city fills with empty stairwells lit up from inside. Not a soul stirs — no mailman, no fugitive animal, not a person alive.

The layout of lighting keeps the illumination even. No draft moves the plants, the purposeless furniture.

One wonders who’s behind this display, a waste of tile and electricity and even of watching, each floor the stage of an abandoned play. The stairwells extrapolate their nothingness upwards: floors one to 22 or 53, unchanging and sore with unabsorbed light.

Stairwell railings loom, uninterrupted, like the shadows of sundials in a landscape where there is no sun.


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Sarah J. Sloat lives in Germany, where she works in news. Her poems have appeared in Barn Owl Review, DMQ, Bateau and Fraglit, and her chapbook Homebodies has just come out from by Hyacinth Girl Press.

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Twenty-six Minutes

September 14, 2012 1 comment

by Jessa Pearl Tamayo

Eight: twenty-two. I was sitting on a green chair, wire-stitched to prevent further breaking. I was staring; I was not seeing. I was thinking of a rainy evening where on the streets, barefooted, I was running for you. The skies rained blood. I weakened for it was my blood. I blinked and I was seated on a green chair close to breaking. Heart beat fast. Pain was slowly escalating — lower spine to left breast to head. Closing my eyes was instinctual. Tears seemed natural. One glass rose — slow, beautiful. I held it and broke — tragic. I inhaled to exhale. I opened my eyes; I was seeing. Eight: forty-eight.


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Jessa Pearl Tamayo is seventeen and currently treading the scholastic literary path. She blogs in Tagalog and English as Jesa Perl at cargocollective.com/meperidine, and also has a site on Tumblr.

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Phantom Limbs at the Antique Mall

September 13, 2012 1 comment

by Timothy Walsh

She rummages through jam-packed stalls,
scours cluttered walls,
hallways packed high with the leavings
of reef-wrecked lives,
wives and husbands wandering, two by two,
she happily husbandless on this cold October day.

There is a stall of guns and one of clocks,
a room packed with commemorative spoons
arranged in racks,
on the walls, faded flour sacks ragged with wear.

A shelf of ruby glass catches her eye,
a mirror-backed sideboard big as a house.
She runs a finger along a marble-topped commode,
peers into oversize armoires sheltering desolate ghosts.

She tries a camelback loveseat,
stretches out on a fainting couch,
discovers the resident cat, her fur musty
with the decades’ dust, a century of shadows,
a soft and whiskered thing sentenced to a life
haunting hutches, stalking midnight mice.

Then, the little statue on a pedestal
stood in an island of light—
a sister shorn of wings, shorn of arms,
the twist of her torso her yearnings’ gist.

Venus di Milo, the nameplate said,
the keyed edge of the letters sliding perfectly
in the keyhole sockets of her eyes,
unlocking the tumblers of her jumbled quest.

She cradled her lost sister on her sweatered arm,
bought her at the silver bell counter,
carried her like a ransomed daughter,
and walked the long lake way home.

Last Wednesday, the radio spoke of phantom limbs—
amputees who still feel missing arms and legs,
who have an itch with nowhere to scratch.

Do you scratch an itch or itch a scratch?
Which is the itch and which is the scratch?
Fingers match the shape of the itch,
flesh and air, emptiness everywhere,
the air infiltrating ourselves,
our lungs buoying us up like lifejackets.

The May chorus of frogs,
the dense November fogs off Newfoundland,
the holiness of the heronry as twilight drops,
muskrats veeing across the night-calm sound—
all this began to come dimly, dimly back.

Above her as she walked, trees loosed their leaves
to skitter along the pavement
and feed the street sweeper’s ravenous mouth.

The shape of the leaf is the shape of the tree’s desire.
Human hands grasp only what will fit our fingers’ span.
Pocket knives and alphabets are the two most useful things.
Structure is desire—wings and wishes,
feathers and flight.

On the long way back, she stepped on no ants
and stepped on no cracks,
reciting her wishes silently, each whispered syllable
rising on a flutter of wings,
her little sister quiet in the crook of her arm.


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Timothy Walsh (website) has placed poems and short stories in The North American Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Inkwell, New Millennium Writings and others. His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions). He is an Assistant Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Sitting Outside to Write Poems on the Day the Cottonwoods Let Go, Grand Marais, Minnesota

September 12, 2012 3 comments

by LouAnn Shepard Muhm

Everywhere fairy visitations
feathery motes
of unmelting snow
or their shadows
crisscrossing my page, calling

Muse, muse, muse, muse

Look around you!
What more can we do?


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LouAnn Shepard Muhm (website) is a poet and teacher from northern Minnesota, whose poems have appeared in a number of literary journals. Her chapbook, Dear Immovable, was published in 2006 by Pudding House Press, and her full-length poetry collection Breaking the Glass (2008, Loonfeather Press) was a finalist for the Midwest Book Award.

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Weaving the waves

September 11, 2012 1 comment
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Hospital Wanderings and Wonders

September 10, 2012 3 comments

by Kathy Uyen Nguyen

June 12, 2012
(composed on my cell phone)
The swirling buzzes and tsk-tsk’s of nickel-sized beetles as they draw haphazard figure-eights between the citrus-tinted night sky and new pavement. The limbo between sanity and melodramatic crazy-eights.

***
(composed on my cell phone)
something beyond the hospital
the fear of irreparable minds
and a possible chemical plant
meltdown right across
the road

***
(composed on my cell phone)
Is it me or is it you?
The new hospital campus created a stranger
in the way you say
Welcome back.


 

June 13, 2012
(composed on my cell phone)
Today I watched
four distant birds forming a sign
of the cross as they flew across
the bluish grey skies over the hospital,
their tone-row chirps bounced off
in the wind like those bathroom-tiled squeaks
of bright yellow toy ducks.
Does that mean the patients
are blessed now
so that I won’t have to take
their ghostly blinking hearts
home with me?


 

June 14, 2012
(composed on my cell phone)
As the patient, a soul splinters to memories and realities designed to shock even the most non-sheltered individual. And yet, when that soul has sought the answers to braid his/her newfound coping skills back into life again, it is only then that the most profound shock of all is the sincerity and certainty of boundless hope.


 

Undated (written sometime in 2012)
How do I forget the patients I have yet to meet sometime along the way? I have already begun to change for them.


 

POSTSCRIPT:

After working in a psychiatric hospital for 5 years (and counting) and currently studying in nursing school and going on various clinical rotations, I still find that hospitals and similar settings are a major source of inspiration—wanderings and wonders—for me. In the world of medicine and health care, everything is fragmented: the patients, the staff, the hospital system, health insurance, etc. Because working in health care is constant and fast-paced, my words and poems are composed on the back of blank staff assignment sheets and any scraps of paper I happen to find and stuff in my pockets. However, I do find that composing fragments on my cell phone is a better alternative as I am less likely to lose scraps of words throughout the day that way. Otherwise, those friendly scraps become laundered tabula rasa. For me, writing is a comfort and reminds me of my human vulnerability because we can’t always play God.


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Kathy Uyen Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American poet whose work has appeared in various print and online publications including Lishanu, Take 5: Best Contemporary Tanka. Vol. 3, Pay attention: A river of stones, and Four and Twenty. When she is not a poet, she is currently a student nurse, yogi, a hopeful marathon runner, and an origami enthusiast. She also loves going to museums, the zoo, and watching films and plays. More of her work can be found at Origami Lotus Poetry and on Twitter @alotus_poetry.

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