Barbara Blatt, Shaniece Devieux, Toni G., Howie Good, John Grey, Ryan Michael Kershaw, Joanna Lee, Carol McMahon, Kathleen Mitchell-Askar, Diana Morley, Lynn Otto, Sam Prickett, John L. Stanizzi, David Stillwagon, Troy Varvel
According to my math, "faster than a speeding bullet" will get you from Gotham City* to an apartment fire in, say, Ft. Lauderdale for you to blow out in about 3 seconds. Then you can go to the next thing. You can use your super-vision to spot a school bus going over a cliff in some place that has cliffs and grab it in mid-air on the way down and then set it back on the road with kids hanging out the windows cheering you, instead of throwing up in the aisles the way real kids would.
You can zip by my place and crush lumps coal in your hands with so much pressure they are turned into diamonds—diamonds I could then sell for lots of money. Instead of diamond-making, school children-saving, apartment fire-blowing-out, and Dale rich-making, you apparently have time to sit around as an underpaid and under-appreciated newspaper reporter, which is a redundant description of a newspaper reporter. Quit your job. You could have stopped 8 or 9 bank robberies and wrapped the bad guys up in a bent steel girder while rewriting that copy for that jerk of an editor you work for. Don't worry about income. Given your set of very particular skills, you'd likely get a big government school bus safety/apartment fire prevention grant if you'd just apply for it. Plus: diamonds.
And then there's this matter, illustrated by this image, which I reproduce here in direct violation of federal copyright laws.
O Superman. And Lois. (Tell Lois I said hi.) I had to update myself on your relationship. I learned there have been some developments since I last read a Superman comic in 1968. I consulted Wikipedia:
In the 1990s, Clark proposes marriage to Lois and reveals his identity as Superman to her. They began a long engagement, which was complicated by the death of Superman, a breakup, and several other problems.
That second sentence is fantastic. The relationship was complicated by Superman dying. Also a break up and several other problems. Wow. All I want to say to you and Lois is that a successful marriage requires hard work and not getting murdered with Kryptonite. And communication. You have to be communicating. Lois, have you really talked to Superman about how you felt abandoned that time he got his atoms scattered across the galaxy by a trio of deranged stowaways from Superman's home planet? About how it complicated your long engagement? No, no. Don't tell me. Tell him. I mean, this relationship has been off and on since 1938. You crazy kids belong together. Work it out.
Turns out you and Lois have a biological son, something else I just learned. Congratulations because DNA compatibility between two people from different solar systems is rare. If I am doing the math right, the odds are about 1 in 7 that interplanetary mating works out. If I was writing the Superkid story, I would have dealt with Superkid being half super by giving him all of Superman's powers, but only on one side of his body. (Why? Because (a) I care about science and (b) it would be hilarious. He'd be flying around in circles and having to squint one eye closed when using heat vision out of his hot eye. (No, I am not making fun of some kind of hypothetical disability. I'm making fun of half-superness. It's not the same thing.)
By the way, I don't really understand the concept of "heat vision." That should be some kind of super ability to see heat. Kind of like a rattlesnake, with those pit things. You can't melt a steel girder with vision, man. But what you could do is send those heat rays out from your eyes into that tight spot between your palms when you are squeezing coal. As science says, pressure times heat equals more diamonds for Dale. (P x H=MDFD). Get Superkid in there to use his half-heat half-vision, too. Is "beautiful clean coal"** possible? Yes. When it is made into diamonds for Dale. Then you get to go back and say that was some beautiful clean coal.
Here is your Issue 130. Our thanks to all contributors to this issue and to the wonderful editorial team: Laura M Kaminski, José Angel Araguz, F. John Sharp, and F. J. Bergmann.
*I know Gotham City is not where Superman lives. It's where Batman lives. But this is not a The Note on how I am irritated by Batman. Besides, there IS no real city named "Metropolis."
**Donald Trump, State of the Union Address, January 2018.
The Good Counselor
Time is up, and she suggests
that I make an appointment
to see her again later this week.
I do, not because she’s of any help,
but because the light in her office
is the only one that reflects
the word freedom from each scar
you left etched into my skin.
It was a good thing
(he knew CPR)
The morning after
December's first snowfall i
woke up in clear eyes & borrowed
pajamas with a
had pumped wild
air back into lips &
lungs that for so
long had tasted only
Three Weeks After You Left Mom
You stood with me in your new kitchen and placed an ice cube in my hand and told me to hold tight; feel the chill strike my nerves, feel it send shots of cold through my hand and up my arm. Don’t worry, you said. It’ll be over soon. Seconds later, water slipped and dripped between fingers. All that was left, after holding on for so long, was the dry rag you used to mop my palm-dripped puddle.
that is to say,
is to serve.
spilled all over
and father’s been
sick for years,
you try your best with him:
conjure up the remedy.
beat the linen.
what a wound.
what a mess.
John L. Stanizzi
a POND poem
Passerby—that’s what I am here, walking sacredly,
Obsolete, knowing less and less, passing a host of sparrows,
Numinous abbots watching over that bit of open water that
Draws reflections into itself, quiet inside quiet, Matryoshka dolls of quiet.
Picture Through a Window
Right alongside me on the highway
a battered old pickup. Driver and I notice
sidewise through open window frames—
couldn’t say we were staring. Him in his
thirties maybe, jawline still firm. His sudden
veering off a letdown. We’re just getting friendly.
Drivers pass me by, eyes front, windows shut.
All discrete cells racing along down the road.
Total privacy totally accepted.
suddenly you exist
a black curtain opens
or clot of feathers
you say bird
I hear bridge
the pattern shifts
to accept your entrance
reconfiguration of small black beads
the bead you are
another tick on the abacus
This Vehicle Stops at All Railroad Crossings
I’m going there to see if something comes next . . . if Opening Day is really just 100 days away . . . if the Russians infiltrated spies and saboteurs into our thought processes . . . if the semicolon is universally detested for being cantankerous and has been abandoned by everyone . . . if Jesus is hanging on the cross because we want him to be . . . if the sun has spilled red ash and traces of the killer’s DNA . . . if the highways are crumbling and if when I ask at the tollbooth which route is the best route to take, they’ll say they don’t have to tell me.
The first, we map out how to be productive
or disappointing. Each month, week, day, hour.
The second, we manage
to be productive and disappointing simultaneously.
A trash can of bad drafts.
The third, we stay up late.
The moon is dark so we can see
the past more clearly, pre-Paleolithic
starlight, starbright. I wish, I wish—
The fourth and fifth, in bed fevered,
wholly disappointing. We produce
a trash can of used tissues. Sweat-damp sheets.
The sixth, the same. We dream
steep banks, inaccessible rivers.
We sleep with space between us.
The seventh day, clear-headed,
we adjust our expectations.
And the rest of the time, there was a large bowl, reeds to its rim, only half-seen through the cedars and pines. It was painted yellow with sunflowers, iridescent insects. My words were hidden, piled up there out of reach. I was hungry for them. I wanted something intimate and piercing like the box under the floorboards between two beams, the box that held his letters. Even as a child I knew it was a small nest for an imaginary egg. Because my father was king of the leafless trees, because he was too raw and specific for me to bury. My skin was flaking from the heat and when I twisted my arm it gathered tight, reminding me of my mother ’s story about women coiling wet clothes into ropes, feeding them through rollers—a mangle it was called. There was one down in the basement of the old brownstone, a labyrinth of forgotten things. Cool and dark. This is where I'll keep him, I thought, with a bed, an arm chair, his old typewriter. He'll write me faithfully; his words will find me. They'll gather under the naked trees.
Let It Be
Take your childhood. Mound it up on the cutting board near the blender and the jar of honey. Sift it in to a bone-colored bowl. Bring the pestle and pound until it has the quality of dust. Gather it into a wooden box which you must keep on your inmost shelf. One day when someone asks you to watch the sunset, or go to the beach, or sail to Europe, take up your childhood and when the others are laughing at some joke, pour the contents into the sea.
After you’ve set the box back on its shelf, open it sometimes, smell the lingering bitterness, the acrid, ink-in-the-mouth words of the stone-fed mother. The leaving behind, the leaving out, the leaving. The spiral wail pulling apart what should be loved.
The worst times will be when the aroma of oblivion reaches you. Erasure as sure as melting snow, the sudden hollowness of a rotten log, your childhood bedroom filled with ethers and silences. That's when you put your story back behind your books, behind the painted egg whose reddish gold warmed you that rainy day in Prague, the Buddhist bell you bought to save yourself. Put your childhood back. Let it be.
The sky is spilling its hues.
From this position, there is no strife.
No one hanging on by their teeth.
But who am I to say—I have all
my limbs. Then again, most of my
heroes aren’t virgins; you know what happens
if you stick around long enough.
I’ve heard that kiwi can’t fly
but that doesn’t mean they’re not birds.
So don’t make any assumptions. Or any
sudden moves either. I’m telling you not to trust
a lightning bolt, even when you are sure
you’re not the rod. The sky can change
so quickly, especially at this time of day.
The pond is so low the geese are walking
on water. This summer of drought has
made saints of us all. We are changing
wine into water. A single dew-
covered morning raises the dead
blooms. But parched-lipped promises
are easy to break so I make none.
I am done with dry-throated confessions
to satisfy a thirst for mercy mercy mercy—
You thirst. I thirst. Isn’t it enough
to just want?
Ryan Michael Kershaw
Sitting at the Outdoor Restaurant in Tamariu
There is a woman
with nine others
in the light rain
on the beach
It’s easy to imagine she is happy—
grinning, spinning around—
her hands inside her too-large sweater sleeves.
And this is all too much.
The warm rain.
Because to me, this is Spanish rain.
And to her, there is no one watching at a table.
Ryan Michael Kershaw
In the Cove, After the Long Hike, in Tamariu
A purple jellyfish floats towards shore and the people really love it. Auuuu! they say. Medusa del mar! A woman fetches her camera, the one with the comically oversized lens. Look. This poor jellyfish is dead. It doesn’t float, it sloshes. And too close to shore for too long. A German girl sees and signals for her husband to come enjoy, too. They coo in awe. Only their kids, pirates of youth, have a sensible reaction. Their eyes widen and they set to throwing rocks at it. So even if I’d been wrong and this thing were in the prime of its goopy life, it was sure as shit dead now. No one survives an airborne rock assault.
Amidst all this, a man in the corner of the cove scrambles to his feet and starts shouting and everyone’s heads snap up. His dog—a broad and wolfish thing whose paws splay out to each side—has gotten loose from its leash and is darting around the cove. He runs straight to me, of course, and puts his mouth around my arm. The owner stops running and the German girl holds her mouth and the kids pause their cocked arms. The dog and I lock eyes and I think, please don’t. And with the whole cove looking on—no eye breaking contact—this monster slides its teeth and tongue over my forearm and wrist and hand, slicking them with hot spit, never biting down. With one final lapping of my fingers, the dog bolts away and the owner grabs hold and I get to thinking about my luck. Because down in the cove, we were very far away from everything—and if something had gone different, I might as well have been beautiful and floating too close to shore.
A drunken squirrel
sky walks across a live wire
as the cat is waiting for the fall.
The fox crouches in the woods
ready for the cat and squirrel
to finish their business.
A dog runs his pen and
tugs at his leash
hoping to break free
to join the party.
The squirrel makes it across
much to cat’s disappointment.
The fox heads
into the backwoods.
As the dog lives
with the leash.
Getting It Done
Blank sheet of paper.
The poem already exists.
Now it's up to the author
Barbara Blatt's poems and essays have appeared in Pearl, Askew and The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images (Taschen). Her visual art has been featured in Los Angeles Art Association (Prolong Press). She can be seen reading her poems at www.poetry.la. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
Long Island, NY native, Shaniece Devieux is a MFA Creative Writing student at The New School. She’s written for ENTITY MAG and is published in The Inquisitive Eater. A Gemini dreamer, she hopes, in no particular order, to one day write a book, own a Malibu Beach house, and be featured on a Beyoncé album.
Toni G. does not have a poetry collection or a stamp collection. She writes because her muse forces her to. You may look for additional work by Toni in upcoming issues of Anti-Heroin Chic and Theta Wave.
Howie Good's latest collections are I'm Not a Robot from Tolsun Books and A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel from Analog Submissions Press. Howie's work has appeared on Right Hand Pointing regularly for all our 15 years.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.
Ryan Michael Kershaw lives in Brooklyn, New York. His independently published chapbook, First Half of a Double Take, was sold at readings throughout 2016-17. He was the recipient of the University Book Award for Excellence in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 2013.
Joanna S. Lee, MD, is a writer, grammar nerd, small-business owner, and founder of River City Poets. Her first chapbook, Dissections, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press.
Carol McMahon is a teacher whose work has been published, or is forthcoming, in various journals (Clockhouse, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Rumpus, Poet Lore) and has a chapbook, On Any Given Day, published by FootHills Press. McMahon received an MFA in Poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop.
Kathleen Mitchell-Askar holds degrees from UCLA and California State University, Northridge. Her work has most recently appeared in, or is forthcoming from, DIAGRAM, Mom Egg Review, and Rust+Moth. She lives, works, and writes in Sacramento.
Diana Morley's recent work appeared in Passagers and will be in the Oregon Poetry Association's prizewinners book this year. Published literary fiction from the dogs' POV, "Something to Howl About." She's an open mic junkie.
Lynn Otto is a freelance copy editor and writing mentor, with an MFA from Portland State University. Her book Real Daughter won Unicorn Press’s 2017 First Book Prize. Read more at lynnottoinfo.wordpress.com.
John L. Stanizzi is author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, and Chants. Besides Right Hand Pointing, he has appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly and many others. His latest, Chants, will appear in early 2019.
David Stillwagon writes short stories and poems. He has had poems in Clockwise Cat and Lit-up magazines. He has also had short stories in Johnny America and Mississippi Crow. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and son.
Troy Varvel is a MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where he is an assistant editor at Crab Orchard Review. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in, The Cape Rock: Poetry, Driftwood Press, The Mantle, and That Literary Review, among others.
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