Photo by Aleks Dahlberg
Hugh Anderson, Marsha Burke, Wendy Taylor Carlisle, William Cullen Jr., b.s. dixon, Toni G., Brigid Hannon, Ted Jean, DS Maolalai, Margo Mensing, Corey Mesler, Alan Perry, Brad Rose, Don Thompson, Cyril Wong
Hey, y'all. It's been a while. What's been going on? No, seriously, how is it going ?
I got distracted there for a moment. Somebody hacked an elderly friend's Facebook account—my friend's name is Yuri—and is trying to scam me on Messenger. He wanted to know if I know about this grant program in town that's helping people with disabilities and school loans and medical expenses. Claims he got awarded $50,000. Says you don't have to pay it back if you have a good credit record. (That's gotta be true. The last time I bought a car, the guy said that my credit was so good that I didn't need to bother to repay the loan.)
ME: Yuri. Wait a minute, they gave you $50,000?
Fake Yuri: Would you like me to give you the contact information on the granting agent?
ME: Listen, Yuri, what the f*** are you going to do with $50,000? You know what happens when you get that kind of money. Gambling. Weird medical procedures. Extremely exotic drugs. You buy those genetically modified birds. They are terrifying and 100% illegal, Man.
Fake Yuri: Should I send you the agent information so that you can also apply like I did?
ME: Yuri. PLEASE come to a meeting. Your daughter called me this morning, she's worried sick. They've got one tonight over at St. Luke's. I'll meet you there.
ME: Promise me, Man. No gambling. No more implanted "pleasure stimulators" from those quacks in Lisbon. No horrifying hallucinogenic growth hormones. Give that 50 grand to Sylvia so she can use a couple of thousand to save the last of the French-speaking peacocks. She can invest the rest for you. Tell her not to tell you where it is.
Fake Yuri: (after 2-hour pause) OK.
Anyway. Fake Yuri is gone now. He's just like all the rest of the scammers. Sooner or later they leave me. They all do.
I hope you enjoy starting off your new year reading with issue 129. My thanks to our amazing hard-working editorial team, Laura M Kaminski, F. John Sharp, José Angel Araguz, and F. J. Bergmann. Thanks to all who submitted and to those whose work appears in the issue.
Don't forget to tell us how it's going.
I spoke to the birds
I spoke to the birds
waiting for the seed
I bring every morning.
I told them we
are all in this together,
bird, man, tree and God.
Put my shackles on again tonight,
touched the screen and shook the mouse
until my jailer came to life.
The air is fresh enough to rose his cheeks, but still
he peers into the compost as I turn leaves.
He is hunting worms, grinning as they drop
one by one until his bucket squirms pink and dirt.
I tell him they make the richest soil; he counts them back—
14 with total confidence, 29 with me.
a dead end if I ever saw one
I attended school even liked the place
though I was never really there
Did I study Not really I sighed and sighed
and cried It did not end well
I barely graduated Nothing remains
except the rhythm of the season
Autumn The elm tree sheds its leaves
The school bell keeps on ringing
Sometimes routine gets in the way of nothing. Beginnings are born from nothing and older than endings, since nothing is outside of time. When nothing takes over, the past is anyone’s past. Then remembrances lurch behind old habits and nothing is forgotten again. The brain must be trained to let nothing in, and its windows left open to air out these many rooms. Sometimes nothing gets in the way of nothing too.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
Do you think you
to keep up,
to the eagle,
a new cyber-liver
Wendy Taylor Carlisle
I haven’t eased up
I haven’t shut down
I haven’t driven past the wreck
I haven’t pushed back
I haven’t sat still
I haven’t hushed up
I haven’t kissed too many frogs or princes
I haven’t taken enough prisoners
I don’t keep my hands to myself
I don’t know what’s under the hood
I haven’t turned off the freeway
The financial planner points to a chart,
says he expects me to die in 2040.
I don’t hold it against him—
he’s supposed to be actuarial.
Though I do take offense
when he denotes me as a period
on a downward sloping graph.
I let him know the inky dot
doesn’t look anything like me—
I’m taller and in much better shape.
As he abruptly closes his binder,
I take the opportunity to tell him
when he should plan to leave.
my smart phone address book
makes no provision for a line
through the names of my dead
only, as far as I can tell
I'm Always Somewhere
Like a chameleon’s first color, there’s nothing more original than an imitation. People who lie to themselves make better lovers. Sunday is the saddest day of the month, but every day requires on-the-job training. When I’m not in my body, Earth is a planet of near-perfect darkness. From the other room, Roxie asks, Are you thinking what I’m thinking? and I think, Does the radio listen to itself? So many good times. I’ll have to look elsewhere for rain.
William Cullen Jr.
The Price of Love (after R. Serling)
High tide pushing up
the slope of the land
leaves in its retreat
artifacts from the deep:
a broken rudder,
a bit of a bikini
and a Corona can.
Maybe two kids eloped
on the high seas in a small craft
navigating by visions of a tropical sun
until it all went very wrong.
Now there’s only this epitaph
that will be gone tomorrow.
This is today's lesson
from the low tide zone.
Shaking and quaking like a leaf in the wind,
trying not to vibrate into blank spaces.
The smallest memory,
tones of a hushed whisper or silence of stillness,
the smell of change, and she shivers.
Traumas like fault lines and panic like seizures
she holds tight to the edge of her chair,
clinging to what’s real.
The rusted sheet metal roof’s warped,
the wood siding splotched with cancer:
too much sun for too many years.
The door that’s been ripped off
may be a coffee table now—reborn
into a long and varnished life.
We don’t talk about the heart attack you had
two minutes after I told you I was leaving. We
don’t talk about the look on your face as it
contorted, fading to a pasty white as you grabbed your
chest and your legs crumpled beneath you. We
don’t talk about the hospital, doctors, testing,
rehab, permanent limp in your left leg or the contraction
of your right arm your souvenir of me staying.
for his memory;
the past happens
all around him.
On me every day:
with its tinderbox receipts
and a bone
of empty debit cards.
blood donation slip
and a driver's license.
10 Canadian dollars, 20 American dollars
(all I can spend).
2 durex condoms (real snake)
and 4 forgotten coffeeshop loyalty cards,
2 stamps apiece.
a crumpled photo of Melissa
smiling by some shrubbery,
her eyes smiling
Mahler, the clairvoyant.
the story is:
he was walking
on a beach somewhere
about all the good songs
being gone. his companion,
also on the beach,
and grabbed him
in mock horror
and pointed. "look",
he said, "that was the last
Hugh Anderson is a Vancouver Islander. He has lived long enough to have been, among other things, a bus driver, an actor and a teacher. His poems have appeared most recently in 3 Elements Review, Praxis Magazine Online, Grain and Vallum. He has one recent Pushcart Prize nomination.
Fighting the good fight with paper and string, Marsha Burke is an artist and amateur musician living and working in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of two books and five chapbooks and has a new book, The Mercy of Traffic, coming in 2019. For more about her work, check her website at www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com.
William Cullen Jr., a veteran working in social services in New York City, has work that's recently appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, North Dakota Quarterly, Stonecoast Review, The American Journal of Poetry and Whiskey Island.
b.s. dixon is working on his first poetry collection, Outreach, about his work with the homeless population in Boston, MA. His work has most recently been printed in Poem Wars and Boston Literary Magazine.
Toni G. is not a rap artist as the name would suggest. Toni is a simple individual who enjoys reading and writing poetry and micro-fiction.
Brigid Hannon is a writer from Buffalo, NY. She has previously been published in the Ghost City Press Review, Soft Cartel, and Street Light Press. She can be found online at hamneggs716.wordpress.com and on Twitter @hamneggs716.
A carpenter, Ted Jean writes, paints, plays tennis with Amy Lee. Nominated twice for Best of the Net, and twice for the Pushcart Prize, his work appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, PANK, DIAGRAM, Juked, Spillway, dozens of other publications. His first chapbook, Desultory Sonnets, won the 2016 Turtle Island Poetry Award.
DS Maolalai's first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press, and he has a second collection forthcoming from Turas Press in 2019. He has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize.
Margo Mensing’s poems have appeared in Right Hand Pointing, Kettle Blue, La Presa, Tupelo Quarterly, Chronogram, and First Literary Review—East. Almost a Member of the Family, her manuscript on the work and lives of Dorothea Lange and Maynard Dixon, was a semi-finalist in 42 Miles’s 2017 competition.
Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South. He has published many books of fiction and poetry. With his wife he runs Burke’s Book Store (1875) in Memphis.
Alan Perry is a Minnesota native whose poetry has appeared in Right Hand Pointing, Heron Tree, Sleet Magazine (Best of the Net nomination, 2018), Gyroscope Review, and elsewhere. He is a poetry editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine, and splits his time between a suburb of Minneapolis, MN and Tucson, AZ.
Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles and lives in Boston. He is the author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015, http://pinkx-ray.com and Amazon.com.) His two new books of poems, Momentary Turbulence and WordinEdgeWise, are forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com .
Don Thompson was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, and has lived in the southern San Joaquin Valley for most of his life. He has been publishing poetry since the early sixties, including a dozen books and chapbooks. For more information and links to his publications, visit his website San Joaquin Ink (don-e-thompson.com).
Cyril Wong is a poet and fictionist in Singapore. His last book of poems was The Lover’s Inventory, published by Math Paper Press.
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