by Dale Wisely
This is the time of the year when we pause to look at a couple of pictures of the harvest from the Missouri family farm of Right Hand Pointing's managing editor Laura M Kaminski. I don't capitalize "managing editor" because Laura has resisted taking on that title but, speaking as the founding/general editor, I can tell you that she's the managing editor.
And look at these blackberries.
If you have any experience in editing/publishing a free publication staffed by volunteers, perhaps you can understand how much it means to me that RHP has added editors over the years, and never has lost one. F. John Sharp has read fiction for us for 13 or 14 years. F. J. Bergmann reads every issue in advance of publication and points out errors in the text, and has been at it for years. I've never known anybody better at it. (Two requests for my funeral. 1. No POTUS and 2. F. J. Bergmann needs to proofread anything in print related to my demise.) José Angel Araguz joined us most recently to read poetry. Now, a word about José. Laura, José, and I vote on poetry. Laura and I tend to vote similarly. José is often a dissenting vote. This, of course, is exactly what we need. José's take on poems often causes us to give a deserving poem a second look, or to ask ourselves what we see in a poem.
And then there's Laura M Kaminski, who not only reads poetry with great sensitivity, but manages to keep the flow of submissions moving, always with a forward-look at the upcoming issue.
Here she is with peppers. Look at this wonderful person. And look at these peppers.
On behalf of the team, here's your issue 126, which is like one of those wicker horns, full of homegrown, farm-fresh goodness, flowing out. Except the food is poems and short fiction and not produce.
Thanks to all who contributed.
Two kids on BMXs
facing down the rain.
Much like these funds,
that you may never see,
I am saving my love
a little everyday.
In case something
were to happen,
is on the form.
a bouquet of bodega candles
have grown overnight
in the cracks
of the sidewalk
careful not to topple
the slender lady
she is still warm with wax
the blood from which
she has sprouted
will wash out with the rain
but the wax
will stain the cobblestone
sully the neighborhood
impede the renaissance
surely a stain like that
will anger the landlord
who has been trying for months
to kill these native plants
Anxiety is a doctor’s waiting room,
a Band-Aid in a pool,
the green sky after a tornado warning.
It’s also invisible,
impossible to pinpoint.
You can’t find the cure
at the bottom of a rum bottle,
but you’ll want to try
anything to slow down
the pounding in your chest.
Operator, I Forgot the Number
The tree is growing up
to be a telephone pole,
just like his dad;
I should be barking
and chasing cars.
I want this to be easier.
Is that selfish?
To yearn to throw our lessons
off our shoulders—
those dead bodies of wild animals
we've strangled to skin
Do not give up on me,
I pulled a long drag of you,
Slipped my shirt off,
showed you the wound.
You licked my back
like it was fruit.
You, a sky jungle creature
embroidered in silver,
me, an hour passing
across the face of the Earth.
To make ends meet, I take part-time work as a horoscope writer for the local newspaper.
Growing up, I would read people's fortunes in the discarded lettuce leaves my mother gave me to nibble on. I see visions of baked potatoes in our future, I would joke as my mother peeled potatoes into our kitchen sink. When my parents fought over the bills mounting on the glass table in our small living room, I would foresee how long father would sleep on the coach by the number of cigarettes in his cigarette pack.
Now, after I finish writing the Virgo horoscope, I find you staring at a past-due bill, and I try to divine our future in the Rorschach splatter of freckles on your face. I walk behind you, bury my face into a galaxy of frizz. I kiss you on your Mars-colored cheek.
You, a simulacrum of my mother: the same crescent bags under your eyes as you tell me all we have for dinner are potatoes, onions and eggs.
Emojis Look Like My Friends
Jake in sunglasses, Brenda blowing hearts, Jon the intern with hair jetting skyward. Each time I clicked I thought I connected. Jon left for Alaska, and I missed his eye-rolling asides and waterfall laughter. I still click on his head, smaller than a cornflake. I use my friends to communicate to other friends. What I text takes too long one-thumbed when I’d rather split a muffin and argue about the Stanislavsky Method. The method requires deep empathy for the character and may not work in real life even when life is acting.
An Imaginary Episode of Father Knows Best
Plot: Betty steals a cow from a farmer who was going to butcher it. She hides it behind the Anderson garage. The neighbors complain about the mooing at night. Her father demands that she take it back. Her brother makes fun of her. In a future episode, the cow is rescued by two free spirits traveling cross-country: one resembling Neil Cassidy, the other, Jack Kerouac.
My Imaginary Date with TV's Betty Anderson
of Father Knows Best
In a restaurant, we sit across a shiny mahogany table. She orders what I order: a cheeseburger supreme with waffle fries. I try to make intelligent conversation but the tiny motors in my mouth stall. She says she believes the cold war will ruin us. I tell her that my collars are always too starchy. The food arrives. We thank the waitress in unison. I have this nasty habit of speaking with food in my mouth. She pretends she can't hear.
After the Funeral of Alice's Best Friend
She tells the boy sitting under a huge sycamore that she's reached a decision. He rolls a spike of finger grass between his fingers. It triggered an allergy the summer before. But now he's too tough to sneeze. She says, "I think we should wait." She turns around and watches the slow procession of cars leave the funeral, winding around the bumpy dirt roads, small unrecognizable faces pressed against glass, some too distracted to form questions. The summer, she feels, is getting heavy. Soon it will turn forgetful, will be as thick as honey.
Pants without Pockets
Pants without pockets
like doors with no knobs.
No functional implement
to receive a key.
No access to a splendor within.
These dark deflated caves
lodging coins or clover leaves
or hands in the cold
with entrance and exit
conveniently the same.
without pants to thrive in.
There are no windows and only the faintest indication of a door. One guy is like, “Oh, not a big deal, nothing will happen, sit down.” That’s just the kind of place this is, not particularly dangerous in daylight, but after dark, a whole other thing. Eyeglasses go into one pile, gold teeth into another. Anyone related to me by blood is starting to lose hope. It’s best not to look at their faces, touched by the heat of a raucous fire. These things aren’t supposed to happen. Yet here we are, like a woman buried in a wedding dress.
For Vera Kameneva
At your funeral, I stood far away
from grave and mourners
to bow as the rabbi read
a Hebrew psalm, and later
someone asked me about that distance.
Dear woman, I want you to know
that across that space of headstones
and all those wilted roses, I was
learning how it feels to miss you.
Solidified by the attention Wolfie and I lavish upon her, Magdalene the Unicorn leads our party out into the night. The deserted street is slick and shiny black with drizzling rain. After a bit of searching, nose inches from wet cement, she stops at an old car—a Mercury Comet. Of all the ultramodern conveyances available, why does she choose this old thing? While we play lookout, the Unicorn takes a metal coat hanger from her purse, straightens it, bends the end into a hook, and inserts it into the car’s chrome-trimmed window frame. She fiddles her makeshift skeleton key a minute before the lock pops up.
—Trust me. I've done this before.
We climb inside, Magdalene in the driver's seat, me in the middle, Wolfie riding shotgun. The Unicorn takes a butter knife from her purse, jiggles it in a gap beneath the dashboard, pulls out a green and a red wire, and twists the ends together. The old Comet coughs a few times and sputters to life. We whoop for joy. The engine growls and buzzes like a swarm of bees in a tin can. Magdalene steps on the gas. The Comet rockets off into the night.
Windows cranked down. Steamy night air whipping our hair. A paw switches the radio on and sweeps through bands of crackling radio static. Wolfie looks in the rear-view mirror, eyes bugging out like two full moons.
—The smiley faces are following us again.
It sounds like nothing could be more terrifying. I look back. Is it my imagination or is a smiling something or someone with pumping arms and legs running after us?
—Follow this, son of illusion.
Magdalene slams the gas pedal to the floor. The engine thunders. My stomach flattens against my spine. The past falls behind in a black cloud of smoking rubber. The Comet drags us screaming into the future. Hot hairy Jesus the Unicorn can drive!
In defiance of all known laws, the Unicorn plays her own game with time and space. In her innocence of physics, she takes corners at ninety-degree angles without slowing down. The world flashes by while the car stands still. Magdalene pushes the Comet beyond all bounds until we seem to exist everywhere at once. No one, getting nowhere, fast.
The Comet skids to a stop in a trash-filled lot on the waterfront. Across the river, the Necropolis’s death lights glow. We tumble out of the car. Magdalene pulls a lighter and gas can from her bottomless purse, and with the solemn motions of a sacred rite—sets the car on fire. We run south along the river, hearts racing, giddy with terror. Stealing backward glances at the Comet’s flames twisting high into the night.
EG Ted Davis
I cannot carry this
bag upon my waist belt—
let another brother
tend to its contents,
for I am filled
with great temptation
to borrow from it,
to spend upon foolish trinkets—
with the intent to pay it back—
yet never fulfilling my debt.
Wife under blankets.
Dog in crate.
Cat curled up on couch.
I close the windows.
Latch the doors.
The outside is
on its own 'til dawn.
Catherine Anderson’s Woman with a Gambling Mania was named one of the best poetry collections for 2014 by the Kansas City Star. Poems appear in Blueline, The Laurel Review and Dunes Review. She has won poetry awards from Crab Orchard Review and I-70 Review and lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
Duane Anderson currently lives in La Vista, Nebraska, and volunteers with the American Red Cross as a Donor Ambassador at blood drives. He has had poems published in Lunch, Touchstone, Fine Lines, The Ibis Head Review, Carcinogenic Poetry, Wilderness House Literary Review, Indiana Voice Journal and several other publications
Marianne Brems is a long-time writer of textbooks in her teaching area of English as a Second Language, but also loves to write whimsical poems. Her poems have appeared in Door Is A Jar, Mused, Soft Cartel, and The Pangolin Review. She lives in Northern California.
caro is a musician, writer, and freelance audio tech living in New York. Her poetry has previously appeared in Chronogram. She can be found around the internet @caroblahblah.
Lilah Clay is a writer, poet, and survivor of chronic Lyme. Her poems have been published in or are forthcoming from World Literature Today, The Bitter Oleander, Ascent, North of Oxford and others. Her current collection of poetry Bed, Window... Sky explores the imaginal realm of the last two years she has spent mostly in bed healing a back injury.
Aidan Coleman has published two collections of poetry, and his work has appeared in Best Australian Poems, The Australian and Australian Book Review. He is a former finalist for Westfield’s Pound Puppy Angry Bark contest, and is currently writing a biography of the poet John Forbes.
EG Ted Davis’s work has or will appear in various online literary blogs and journals both here in the US and the UK. He currently resides in the Boise, ID, area and is retired.
Richard Fenwick’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, The Adirondack Review, and others. His first poetry collection, Around the Sun Without a Sail, was published in 2012. A second collection, Unusual Sorrows, will be out in 2018. Richard lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Jean-Luc Fontaine resides in New York where he teaches the arts at an elementary school in the Bronx. He enjoys cheap coffee and falling asleep on subway cars.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. His latest collection is I'm Not a Robot from Tolsun Books.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, The Hawaii Review and Visions International.
Kyle Hemmings is a retired health care worker. His most recent publications are in [b]oink, Sonic Boom, and The Airgonaut. He loves street photography and '60s garage bands that never made it big.
Simone Hutsch (cover photo) is a graphic designer and self-taught architecture photographer from Berlin, currently living in London. Her social media handle is heysupersimi.)
Joseph Pascutazz studied writing at Bennington College. He lives in Brooklyn.
Sam Watermeier lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ever since his mother went into labor with him in a movie theater, he's been growing as a film fanatic, literature lover and journalism junkie. His writing has appeared in Eunoia Review, The Film Yap, NUVO Newsweekly, The Polk Street Review and THiNK Magazine.