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Book of Departures

Farah Ali

Paul Dickey

Salvatore Difalco
Laura Goldin
Howie Good
Simon Harms
Theo Itchon
Paul Julian

Willa Needham

Abena Ntoso
Seth Peterson
Iris Rosenberg
Hilary Sideris
Lynn Strongin
Ry Book Suraski
Mike Taylor
Brett Warren
Patricia Wentzel
Natalie Wolf


Please use the pointing right hand icons to move through the issue. It's just a thing we have.

Anchor 1

The Note

Today, I saw a miracle on television. I looked up from some work I was doing just in time to see a guy field a pop fly ball during the Tennessee-LSU baseball game. That's all it was. There's a replay you can watch on ESPN of Josh Pearson making a sliding snag for LSU. It's impressive. But I missed that one. The one I saw wasn't anything special. The ball went high-parabola and the fielder just had to adjust his position standing in the outfield a few times to catch it. Easy-peasy. As they say.

Total miraclethough. Immediately after the batter made contact with the ball, the outfielder started receiving and processing data. There were two tiny pinpoints of light on his retinas, both about the size of a postage stamp. Two-dimensional. But his brain took those little pinpoints, processed them into 3D, and started plotting the ball's approximate trajectory, before it reached the top of the arc. That was a second away. He ran to place himself in a circular zone somewhere in which he could now be one hundred percent sure the ball will drop. Once there, he made a step north, then back a bit. A half-step to the right. At some point, he started moving his arm to approach a line that his brain was increasingly confident the ball will track. Opened his hand. Opened the glove. Whack. Snagged. 

I could have given an account of a triple play. Or just the fact that the pitcher heaves a 3-inch ball at the batter at a speed that would get the ball fined by the state police on I-65 and—sometimes—one of these guys hits it with a stick. Sometimes they don't just hit it. They jerk the thing far enough to be caught by some 10-year-old kid named Caleb. Impossible. Ridiculous. (Caleb, of course: Also a miracle.)

Sometimes when I'm stressed, I think about arcs. That there are rules, expressed in equations, that can tell us about the deceleration, the fact that the ball reaches a maximum altitude for exactly no length time. And then the acceleration. Down. Faster. Down. Into the glove of Jared Dickey, from Mount Juliet, Tennessee. 


On behalf of our editors, F. John Sharp, Annie Stenzel, Bill McCloud, Steve Klepetar, Ina Roy-Faderman, and F. J. Bergmann, we bring you Issue #152 of Right Hand Pointing, "Book of Departures," along with our hopes you enjoy it.


Anchor 23

Natalie Wolf 



You say I should not burden you

with my small miseries,

a thousand birds nesting in your hair.

Anchor 5

Hilary Sideris

Gatto Nero

A grain of rice falls from

my fork & there you are,

blind in one eye, scabby,

half bald, famished but far

from underfoot, poised

on the marble steps

of the house where I stay

this week on Evia,


the island Venetians

colonized & called Negro-

ponte although the bridge

was never black, another

cat without a name despite

your mew, which has

evolved to match the pitch

of a newborn’s cry.

Anchor 6

Paul Julian


Oblong and bony

as a boy’s ribcage,

its holy miasma

stains the air.

This is the fruit

the serpent whispered,

its green husk spiked

with pointy tails.

This is the meat

Eve fed Adam,

its golden pillows stuffed

beneath shallow thorn.

This is the stench

of sweat and body,

of heaven fallen,

foul but taken,


like anything forbidden.

Anchor 7

Patricia Wentzel 


Icarus (Like Me)


Perhaps Icarus had bipolar disorder,

flew too close to the sun

because he was manic,

believed as only the delusional can

that he would thrive

in the face of immolation.

Anchor 8

Farah Ali

Red Sunset

I must be quieter than usual because as the sky smudges itself into darkness you ask if anything is wrong. I tell you about the fox curled inwards at the roadside a few miles back and how I hope it didn’t suffer. It would’ve died quickly, you say, turning on the radio and looking straight ahead. I don’t mention it again, but I can’t stop wondering if she died slowly in loneliness, drowning in the cacophony and fumes of hurtling cars, clinging to the last remaining rays of sunlight before her heart grew metal-cold beneath all that beautiful, blood-stained fur.

Anchor 9

Laura Goldin 

Book of Departures


Beach weed, the wind, the washed walls.

Straw mat, ancient stone-white sun.


The way the light moved in, originally, on the breath.

Riding it home once, like a long wave.


Mostly we spoke of ordinary things: blue sand at dawn,

damp ground receiving us.


What I remember is your fingers

tracing me, and then the water taking everything


the same way: toward the shore, and out again—

me saying home. You saying weightlessness.

Moth Light

I wanted one word for loneliness before

          and another after.


Sometimes at night a folding chair

          drawn close to the window, watching

          a moth wing beat, light flickering


the smallest sign.


Whole years could pass this way,

          carried like boats, I said,

          on water


and did nothing to stop them.

Anchor 11


Turn Left at the Ventricle

there are tomes buried in my skin, every layer of t(issue) thoroughly (re)written. invisible ink on these flipped pages, the delicate light etching its lore over the fine lines in my palm, again and again, like how poetry, at first, is only a mere thought bundled up in the collective. our elusive existences unraveling in the matrix of it, string to string-theory. where these faded fields of god consciousness go. I breathe in the suffocation of a new language, ribbons that cough up internal development. what do they call it again? adaptation to the poison? that old vein keeps re-opening. in here I might not look like much, but somewhere else I’m important.


Anchor 12

Abena Ntoso

The Good Life

blueberry muffin

and that’s how easy it is

to want what you don’t have


the same color as dusk

you catch as it falls

outside your window


concluding a day of rain

a single car rolls through

street puddles in the distance


neighborhood lights are on

just like street lamps in Paris

where you’ve never been


and just like that you are

eating what you crave

Anchor 13

Brett Warren

For Whom

It’s just for fun—he lets them go,

or so the man in waders says

to a woman who’s paused

along the shore to ask

if he’ll be eating his catch

for dinner. The man smiles

as he works the barbed hook

out of the hinging jaw,

smiles as he tosses the fish

back into the pond, smiles

as it slaps the tarnished water

with a splash and a thrash of its tail.

All good, he says, and smiles again

as the fish disappears into the murk

to swim away as fast and as far

as it can go.

Same As It Ever Was

To quell a rebellion of the sciatic nerves,

I am consigned to four weeks of physical therapy,

where a young woman leans in conspiratorially

and whispers how nice it is to see someone

who still has range of motion left—an icebreaker

meant to compliment but instead has a chilling effect.

She leads me through rooms padded deep blue,

the humid air thick with dissolving chlorine

like a river flowing underground, and leaves me

counting reps to "classic" songs on shuffle. I row

an invisible boat to ferry the dead, where Jerry

shows up first, then Janis, Petty, Bowie, Prince,

even poor John Bonham, still drumming away

with old Led Zep. What a relief to be saved

by the Talking Heads, still trying to figure out

how did we get here, how do we work this.

Anchor 15

Ry Book Suraski

After All I've Done for You

When you were little you looked up at me with my own eyes, bigger on your little face, and saw ephemerality, a preciousness noticed by you alone. Flashing cartoons colored your skin as you ignored them to watch me, captivated, like I was a shooting star, an eclipse. In our bathroom I did mascara while you stared from the toilet top. Your legs dangled down and you copied me, opened your mouth as I did, testament of lonely moments, witness of beauty’s labor, seeing all the years of struggle and learning it took to become your Mommy. When I fought you tried to help, slapping his legs; and you hid with me in the dark, watching me watch through the closet door’s cracks. When we left, you stared into the rearview mirror all night as I drove, knowing I was the one who made the car go, who knew where roads led, how things worked, hotels, McDonalds, past, future. You’d scream hysterically when I went out, little fists banging on the door’s inside, smart enough to hang on the knob, too small to reach the deadbolt. I returned to you still crying, gasping for air between sobs, covering my work shirt with desperate snot. I had to stroke your downy hair for hours so you could sleep. For a long time you loved me like I was the world, like closing your eyes to rest wasn’t worth my disappearance, terrified of losing me to sleep’s penumbra.


But you can’t even remember. Friends do your hair now. School lunch is free. You expect apologies. When I liberated us, I brought you out for glimpses of the other worlds that made you change, and now you imagine their planetary shadows darkening me, the life I made for you. A teacher, maybe a friend’s mom, fills you with doubt and disquiet until you think you can see me clearer through hundreds of walls, across dozens of streets, the names of which I taught you, one at a time. When the lady came to ask about discipline, check the fridge, you evaded my eye, hung your head. You thought you saw the moon fall out of the sky and realized, when it burned you, it had been a comet all along, common fire and ice. You didn’t see the face, scarred with craters, still up where you left it hanging, invisible behind the clouds.

Anchor 17

Theo Itchon

Godhood in Ten Easy Steps

1. Paint your body slate gray.

2. Mark the center red, so you can find your way back.

3. Walk to the very end of your right arm and open the door.

4. Do not speak to the lover you left, not for an apology. He will be waiting there.

5. Flick the light on and if it doesn't switch, smash the farthest wall on the left.

6. The light will be blinding, and you will have to be careful.

7. Get to the desk and write all the ways you have hurt your mother.

8. Stop after a thousand and thirteen.

9. Burn the pages you wrote and forgive yourself.

10. Or at least try.

an official apology to khadija

I know what you taste like

but I can't brave stroking your hair.


What do I do with my body

now that I'm sure it's hollow?


Where do I get my fill?


I should have known

you wouldn't know either;


we’re two empty bodies

trying to fill the other.


Still, in the dim morning light,

I stare at the ripples of your belly

and think Christ, how pretty.


This is carnage posing as intimacy,

but it's as close as I can get.

Anchor 18

Lynn Strongin

SHE CLOSES her eyes late noon

To music of childhood

Shadowless fades out.


Later, iron on low, starching she

Hears cordless music.

A spark might fly, she could burn.


She shapes the dough into an eight

In the butter-churned light of afternoon.

Pewter plates catch late sun.

          The drawbacks of living in an old house; dwarfs, the move. Reduced, but heart deepens.

          The floor bends like turnips, wood-clean. heart skips a beat, then starts again.

Anchor 19

Seth Peterson


Bulletproof Backpack: $99


they say

they don’t work—

the bullets

will cut through

anyway. they say

most of the damage

is the cavity

from the shock


(they are ballistic


maybe that’s why

there’s one adorned

with flowers,

an emerald

infinity sign.

they’re saying: goodbye,

you soft-skinned


dream of mine.

Anchor 20b

Simon Harms


a small part of me

yearns to see the body

struck by lightning.

forgive me.

just think of the light,

pouring out from the eyes,

clay becoming.

Anchor 4

Salvatore Difalco


I like that other sky.
The one leaving now.
A black crayon streaks
across it like war.

My pajamas blaze.
Someone did this to me.
Someone drinking
whisky or gasoline.


My arms dry sticks,
they burn well.
Push the ladder closer
to the bricks.


We’ll go in time.
Not much left now.
Pain is relative.
Pain is my father.

Anchor 21

Willa Needham


what is there past this amniotic stillness

before pain

swung through

when I was a child

do you believe me?

I had hair like down


I point them out to you

it’s nearly molting season that’s why

there are so many

Anchor 3

Paul Dickey

Late for an Anniversary

After years, there is

the image of a girl.

But all I ask is

for the bones of woman,


when the brown thrush

touches down to the cut grass

for the reward of worms,

and the applause of red leaves.


The image

freezes to perfection,

into as our land

becomes the ice of winter.

Anchor 10

Mike Taylor

In the Tenderloin

You crack the halo quick

with heels like pistol shots,

your eye, a reptile's tongue—


as dealers duel by boombox,

your shadow's like a blade,

your voice, a drum, a drum.

Anchor 14

Iris Rosenberg


Still life with birds


alight on the high stoop

of No. 12


in the brick-red row

facing the park


crowned not

with Adam and Eve


as the ancient Pueblans

carved but


with a woman decked in darks

smoking in the doorway


her heart-shaped face tilted

toward the small dog


asleep at her feet and

the sparrows below


too many to count on each

of the steep stone steps

Anchor 16

Howie Good


Hanged for a Witch


If you could see me, you would probably pass right out. My eyebrow is split open, my scalp practically torn off. There’s no way for me to heal that doesn’t entail worse pain. I’m like the old woman with a squinty eye who was hanged for a witch or like the philosopher who, knowing that all things are the same thing to the dark, wept on the neck of a horse. You’ll say I’m being overly dramatic, compare my thoughts to the futile buzzing of a frantic fly trapped against a window. But just as soon as this night ends, another even darker will begin.


Frowny Face


The oxycodone I took hours prior to getting in the car is encouraging me to close my eyes. And, in fact, I may have nodded off for an instant. The traffic light up ahead changes from a smiley face to a frowny face. It must be some new kind that they’re testing. The line of cars and trucks stopping in front of me whine, shriek, sob, as if fueled by the salt in tears. On the traffic island, meanwhile, an old abandoned god stands clutching a battered piece of cardboard on which is shakily written one word: Homeless.

Anchor 22

Howie Good



I like it best when the sky

is pinkish like this and crisscrossed

by pale seabirds, and there’s

a lingering smell of lilacs

where you and I have lain.

Anchor 2



“Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place in the iron dark of the world.”
Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023)


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Farah Ali writes fiction and poetry with a particular love for the short form. She has been published, and has upcoming publications, in a variety of reputable online and print journals. Her supernatural Deerleap Hollow series is available from Amazon.

Paul Dickey has appeared most recently in Plume, The Midwest Quarterly, Laurel Review, and Apple Valley Review. Dickey has published over 200 online and print publications, including poetry, short stories, flash fiction, plays, and essays. His most recent book of poetry is Anti-Realism in Shadows at Suppertime.

Salvatore Difalco writes from Toronto, Canada.


Laura Goldin is a publishing lawyer in New York. Five of her recent poems appear in the Spring 2023 issue of The Brooklyn Review; one is forthcoming in Driftwood Press 2024 Anthology, and others have been published or are forthcoming in Apple Valley Review, Gargoyle Magazine, and Mom Egg Review.


Howie Good's most recent poetry book, Heart-Shaped Hole, is available from Laughing Ronin Press.


Simon Harms is a young poet from the twin cities of Minnesota, whose work concerns the natural world and the near-religious beauty of the ordinary. He has been previously published in Runestone and The Tower, where he now serves as an editor.


Willa Needham is an undergraduate student at UCLA who is soon to earn a bachelor's degree in Gender Studies and Labor Studies. Willa haunts the fifth floor of her university library where the poems are kept and longs to be published one day. This is her first attempt. And she made it.

Theo Itchon is a poet from the Philippines working as a creative writing teacher to the Filipino youth. Their poems have been published in Thimble Lit Magazine, Eunoia Review, Unbroken Journal, The Cardiff Review, among others. Talk to them on Instagram @theoitchon.


Paul Julian lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is an attorney specializing in business litigation and government affairs. His poems “Weapon Focus” and “Martians Flew the Ocean Blue” were published in Cellar Door.


h.a.laine is a US-based writer and poet who has been writing short stories and weaving tapestries of emotion and imagery into poetic 'streams of subconscious' for well over a decade now. Her work often borders the abstract and the unknown, evoking deep emotions and individual reader interpretations.


Abena Ntoso is a poet living in Houston, Texas. She teaches ethnic studies and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing. Her writing has been published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Satirist, ONE ART, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Trampoline, and The Wrath-Bearing Tree.


Seth Peterson is a writer and physical therapist in Tucson, Arizona. His primary research and writing focus has been on the patient-provider relationship and the humanities in healthcare. Aside from clinical practice, he is an Associate Editor with JOSPT and teaches with The Movement Brainery and A.T. Still University.


Iris Rosenberg reads and writes poetry and fiction in New York City, where she lives with her family. Her writing career includes stints as a business journalist, agency head, college instructor and poetry reviewer for Library Journal.


Hilary Sideris’s poems have appeared in recently in The American Journal of Poetry, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, OneArt, Poetry Daily, Right Hand Pointing, Salamander, Sixth Finch, and Verse Daily. She is the author of Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay Books 2019), The Silent B (Dos Madres Press 2019), and Animals in English, poems after Temple Grandin (Dos Madres Press 2020). She lives in Brooklyn and works as a professional developer for the CUNY Start Program at The City University of New York.


Lynn Strongin is an American poet currently residing in Canada who has published more than two dozen books. Lynn's new book of poems, Kiosk, is just published in England. storySouth will feature her poetry in the fall. In November, Charter for Compassion’s Global Read will feature an interview of Lynn by Danielle Ofri.


Ry Book Suraski is a trans, Jewish, neurodivergent writer living in Queens, New York, where he is a literacy teacher and crisis counselor. His fiction and nonfiction has published in Rookie, Mouth Magazine, PANK, and others. He is currently writing his first novel.


Mike Taylor is a writer/ artist, living in San Francisco. His work has recently appeared in Tricycle and Trash Panda.


Brett Warren (she/her) is the author of The Map of Unseen Things (Pine Row Press, 2023). Her poetry has appeared in Canary, Halfway Down the Stairs, Harbor Review, and elsewhere. A long-time editor, she lives in Massachusetts, where she counts rabbits on her morning walks (record: 37).


Patricia Wentzel lives at the confluence of two rivers with her family and three cats. She started writing poetry while recovering from a severe episode of Bipolar Disorder. She has been published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Light Ekphrastic and has work upcoming in the Tule Review and SPC Anthology


Natalie Wolf is a co-founder and co-editor of Spark to Flame Journal and an editor for One Sentence Poems. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Popshot Quarterly, Pink Panther Magazine, I-70 Review, and more. You can find more of her stuff and things at


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