Marge Barrett, Susanne Braham, Bob Canuel, Sharon Charde, Jo Angela Edwins, Vern Fein, Robert René Galván, Anna Lagattuta, Clif Mason, Barb Reynolds, Brad Rose, Jonathan Shipley, Tiare Snow, Doug Van Hooser, Gerald Wagoner, Eryk Wenziak
by Dale Wisely
In Arkansas, where Bill Clinton and I grew up, people made a distinction between "smart" and "booksmart." I've always been in favor of both kinds and would rather people with a lot of book-learnin' would respect the other kind of smart and that the other kind of smart people would respect book smart.
I am booksmart. Four degrees from institutions of your higher book-learnin'. B.S. in Psychology/Sociology, M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology. M.T.S. in theological studies. I'm a child/adolescent psychologist. Mrs. Wisely has two degrees: B.S. in psychology and M.S. in school psychology. Any time I cite credentials like that, you can be assured I am about to tell a story about how dumb I can be.
Long ago we popped into a local Food World Supermarket to pick up a big package of disposable diapers. Probably Huggies.
While checking out, my wife made a comment to the cashier about how nice it will be when we no longer have children in diapers. We mentioned that this particular daughter's toilet- training was taking a bit longer than we had hoped (which, when you think about it, is pretty much always true).
The cashier said, "Here's what we did. We got a big ol' clear plastic jar filled with little candy treats. We told our son that when he went potty in the pot, and only then, he could open the jar and get a treat. Worked great."
On the way out, I told Marilyn, "Sounds like a great idea." We got in the Dodge Caravan and had maybe a 10-minute silence driving home, the kind you tend to have when you've been married awhile. I remember it was raining. Windshield wipers going. Finally, Marilyn said, "Between us, we have five degrees in psychology..." and, finishing her thought, I said, "...and we just let the cashier at Food World design a behavior modification program for us."
Here is Issue 122, "Underwood." Thanks to all contributors and, as always, the editorial team for the great picks and hard work. I hope you enjoy it.
lust sits in me
like a dead teakettle
I do resistance training
five pounds of Virgin Mary
in the right hand
four pounds of Infant of Prague
in the left
I didn’t ask
if I was
Old, retired now.
One errand today—extra-large eggs
at the Co-op.
It is cold outside.
My car is warm.
I have a full tank of gas.
I see black wings
bare winter branches.
She walked through halls of paintings leaning against walls. The haphazard placement gave permission to run her fingers along the canvas, feel the lumps of paint and the strokes of another person’s vision. Pausing to circle images with her fingertips and stare into the eyes of the muse, she relaxed her shoulders and thought perhaps she too should try leaning against the wall, rather than hanging herself.
For a flicker,
He was calm.
One leather shoe sole
A gentle rhythm—
A steady pace.
But one neuron fired,
The neuron clawed away.
The sole of a foot
Soared down five concrete steps
And the leather—
It never rubbed the pavement
It convulsed in slow motion,
Bending against the air.
Doug Van Hooser
This is an excuse for you to not buy what I want from you. It’s not a poor excuse: one that can’t afford a five-dollar latte, and it is not a great excuse: one that has won an Emmy. It is your everyday excuse: I didn’t mean to. That’s the logic of a wasp: sting first. So I shuffle my feet as if that signals regret. My eyes focus on the leaves littering the ground, the words stumble from my mouth. You rake them in a pile by saying I don’t believe you. How can you mean not to tell a lie? The beauty of being right is picking a ripe apple from the tree. I bend over, pick bruised ones off the ground.
Jo Angela Edwins
Now that they’re gone,
I stare in the mirror
searching for his eyes,
her smile, the skin
that brushed against mine,
the skin that held me
Some days I see them
in shades or shadows.
Some days I lose them
in the flash of a pupil,
that small black hole.
Robert René Galván
My Father’s Typewriter - Underwood #6
An iron horse—
It weighed more than a bowling ball,
Such force to strike words onto a page,
The hammers falling fast as rain,
So much like the piano in the next room,
Though its music was percussive,
Sometimes playing into the late night
As he pounded prose,
The sounds of his battle punctuated
By a tiny bell.
Robert René Galván
I’ve lost the first line
of this poem, or, possibly, the last.
It lingers like a phantom limb—
I sense it, but can’t take the first step
because it isn’t there.
Selfie with Arthur Rimbaud
He is an amethyst ear in the dark. Bodies seep anguish and grief, and he hears them fill up. Star upon star. Enough to make him worship obsidian night and start raucous ceremonies of clairvoyance. He dances with the revelers and joins the souls leaping from body to body. The rain is rain, nothing more. The wind is wind, nothing less. Hail’s hammers strike the earth and lightning turns trees into kindling. Before his birth, his mother knew this and passed it into his blood.
Invited my ex to the wedding. In a cigarette-soaked voice, she growled, "Real gentlemen prefer lawns." The sky grew black with penguins as the gathered crowd longed for amnesia and better credit scores. In the distance, fluorescent dogs could be heard casually cursing God. Arrayed in a few yards of a cotton-poly blend, my fiancée had the look of taxidermy about her, perhaps a premonition. Sometimes the mailman must deliver his own mail. Since I’ve been working at being less awkward, I felt refreshed as a newly washed hearse. The father of the bride appeared to be confused as he approached me in hopes of giving away his daughter. I assured him that good things can happen to bad people, although he pointed out that just because it’s true, it doesn’t mean it’s a fact. I noticed that Lilly’s corsage had a natural smoked scent. Her eyes glistened like Susan B. Anthony coins. Meanwhile, the justice of the peace un-holstered his sidearm so that everyone could relax until the yelling was over. We briefly exchanged vows, which were charming and earthy as a bowl of granola. I kissed the bride and she reciprocated—yes, partly out of revenge, but also out of genuine hunger—and we proceeded with stately solemnity, fingers crossed and eyes closed, toward a future that promised us no less than the benefit of the doubt. I can’t remember which day this was—maybe a Thursday, maybe a Sunday, but I can tell you it was magic. Even the baby alligators smiled.
like having a single chopstick,
gives one the freedom to stab at things,
but it’s often inefficient.
After Fifty Years, a Widower
—For Carlos Treviño, Sr.
I am a pebble under a two-ton boulder,
mi preciosa. The air blowing through
these empty rooms. I’m the churning
waters that won’t dare be calmed,
and the bird that flings itself, inconsolably,
against your window.
My friends want to set me up.
I look into my yard and say,
I have a wagon with a flat
and a wheelbarrow with no handles.
My winter garden has not been planted.
I tell them, I keep odd hours. My dog
only gets along with me. The depressions
in my mattress are set.
They press on.
I say, the plants in my house
are bromeliads. Lights are on timers.
Very little has been required of me
for a long time.
My dad won’t come.
He never ever does.
He cares more about
each of the twenty
suits in his closet.
I’d have to hang there
for him to notice me.
To Richard Hugo
For forty years or more
I yearned for your triggering
town 'til I found how to be
lost, to lose fear, to be
still in the forest,
for the trees listen.
and space absorbs
in a cold
Thinking of Gerta
When he stepped on that landmine
he didn’t think of Gerta or maybe he did.
The last photo he ever took was along
the road from Namdinh
and Thaibinh. How many miles
to the streets of Madrid?
When he closed his eyes, that
last time, what images came?
Her body, enraptured upstairs in
Swollen Cordoba? Her body,
wrapped, in the El Goloso Hospital?
Death came. What came after—
a life entombed on paper—
are moments both real and really
gone and always those.
Those roads forever leading.
There wasn’t much left of him after they died. He carried memories he would never think to write down. Some lives are only recorded on the stone of their ending.
Marge Barrett published a chapbook of poems, My Memoir Dress, and a memoir, Called: The Making & Unmaking of a Nun. A teacher, she loves her course, We Like Short-Shorts!
Susanne Braham’s poetry has appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review, Baseball Bard, and These Fragile Lilacs. She is retired and lives in New York City.
Bob Canuel, now retired, lives with his wife, Beverley, in Calgary, Alberta. He’s been recently published online at Wax Poetry & Art and Dying with Dignity Canada. Thank you all for reading.
Sharon Charde, retired family therapist, women’s writing workshop leader since 1990, award-winning poet with five published collections, one of which was dramatized as a radio play for the BBC in 2012, has seven Pushcart nominations and wide journal publication. She spent 16 years teaching delinquent girls poetry in a residential facility.
Jo Angela Edwins teaches at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. Her poems have most recently appeared in Rogue Agent, Rise Up Review, Typishly, and Number One. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016. She has received awards from Poetry Super Highway and the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
Vern Fein has published over fifty poems and short non-fiction pieces in over thirty different venues since he started submitting two years ago, including *82 Review, Bindweed, Ibis Head Review, Spindrift, Quail Bell and has a short story in Duende magazine, Goddard College, Vermont.
Robert René Galván resides in New York City where he works as a professional musician and poet. He has taught at Manhattan College, The College of Mount Saint Vincent and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. His last collection of poems is entitled Meteors, published by Lux Nova Press. His work will appear in an upcoming issue of the Hawaii Review. René is a multi-instrumentalist who plays charango, flutes, guitar, harp, mandolin, percussion, piano, ukulele, Venezuelan Cuatro and xylophone.
Anna Lagattuta is a junior at the University of Dayton where she is studying journalism and psychology. She has a great appreciation for live music, summer baseball games and travel.
Clif Mason’s poems have appeared in The New Guard and Peacock Journal. When he was a Fulbright Fellow to the Université Nationale du Rwanda, he and his family lived on campus, near the town of Ruhengeri and ten miles from the Virunga Mountains, home of the mountain gorillas.
Barb Reynolds was a child abuse investigator for 22 years. She curates the Britt Marie poetry series in Albany, CA. Her chapbook Boxing Without Gloves was published by Finishing Line Press. Recent works have appeared in CALYX, Poet Lore, and Mudfish (May).
Brad Rose has two new books of poems, Momentary Turbulence and WordinEdgeWise, forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. Brad is also the author of five chapbooks of poetry and flash fiction, all from Right Hand Pointing. His website is bradrosepoetry.com
Jonathan Shipley is a freelance writing living in Seattle. His work has appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times and Fine Books. He once got haiku published in a book about how to build wind turbines.
Tiare Snow is a wine drinker who, in her spare time, is also a mother, wife and writer. Tiare expresses vulnerability by publicly distributing her writing in the hope someone else will feel something; to feel something is better than nothing.
Doug Van Hooser's poetry has appeared in Chariton Review, Split Rock Review, Manhattanville Review, and Poetry Quarterly among other publications. His fiction can be found in Red Earth Review, Crack the Spine, and Light and Dark. Doug is a playwright active at Three Cat Productions and Chicago Dramatists Theatre.
Born out West (1947), Gerald Wagoner became a poet-sculptor. In NYC since '83, he made art, exhibited, taught, and wrote long into the future. This is his first publication.
Eryk Wenziak serves as art editor of A-minor magazine and art director of A-minor press. He is widely published and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He is the author of five chapbooks, his most recent titled SQUARES (after Malevich), a collection of typewriter art works published by No Press. His new full-length book of poetry, I NEED SPACE, was recently released by Deadly Chaps Press. His text-based visual art is routinely on exhibit in Brooklyn area gallery exhibitions, and his photography has been used as cover art for several prominent authors. He lives at www.erykwenziak.com.
Eryk Wenziak, remix by D. Wisely