Volume 11: Autumn 2012

Vol. 11: Autumn 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012
posted by Michael Simms

Barking at the Storm

by Brian Heston

The Doberman across the alley is at it again, so I get up
to shout. Clouds have gathered. Thunder raises its hammer
just overhead; two halogen lamps lean over the alley,
flickering brightness. His head peeks out from the doorway
of his flimsy house, bending each time that long, electric
finger descends from the sky, much like the one that points
him outside, points him down from whatever table or couch
he is trying to ascend to. Once in Kansas I saw a funnel
cloud, all around was flat, never-ending distance. I screamed
from a place deep inside, where the soul crouches warming
its hands over an expiring flame. Just before touching down
on the vacant road ahead, the cloud vanished back into
its desolation. I never returned to Kansas after that. This animal
is always out. I’ve never seen him brought in. I’ve never
seen his master even to complain. When that deluge finally
comes, inundating his backyard world, I’ll continue to rain
down curses on him to no avail. Eventually, the storm will
empty itself, giving us back a refuge. Then in the predawn quiet,
we’ll drop into our solitary beds and fall into uneasy sleep.


Finding Hiawatha

by Jennifer Soule

Highway 18 runs past the Canton grain elevators
to Hiawatha Golf Club where the restrooms
read: “Braves” and “Squaws.”
Mid-fairway lies a graveyard—fenced—
sunken remains of 120 men and women who died
at Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians.
The city bought the old Asylum grounds
with stipulated “recreational use.” No mention
of sacred ground on these soft Coteau des Prairies.

A faded prayer flag flutters in the wind.
Near the small burial plot a sign reads:
“Please do not play balls from the rough,”
A monument lists names of the dead:
Blue Sky, Long Time Owl Woman,
Yells at Night, Red Crow,
James Crow Lightning, Edith Standing Bear.
The golfers play through without a glance.


Supporting the War Effort

by Rachel Andoga

Boys don’t make passes at girls who are fascist,
my grandmother said once. She’d been drinking
so up came the war. Her voice took on an edge,
Mid-Atlantic and mean like a newsreel announcer
relishing the body count of enemy dead.
She described her stationery, the many stacks
tucked alongside sprigs of lavender
in an old humidor; how she’d lick each envelope
with her eyes closed for all the boys she’d never kiss
dying on the beaches she’d never see.
Glasses, I told her. Girls who wear glasses.
Silence threaded the moment; I could count each stitch.
No, she’d said, That’s not how it goes at all.


Deliverance of Samuel Beckett

by Deborah Flanagan

I. Samuel Beckett is stabbed in the chest
on a side street in Paris,
by a notorious pimp named Prudent.

A stranger finds him,
gets help, visits him in the hospital.
I can’t go on,

I’ll go on, he murmurs,

Soon after, he marries the stranger.

The sun shone, having no alternative.

II. Beckett later asks his attacker, “What was the
motive behind stabbing me?”

Prudent replies,
“Je ne sais pas, Monsieur. Je m’excuse.”

This answer knocks the breath out of him,
provides hours of inspiration.

We’re not beginning to…to…mean something?

He drops the charges,
finding Prudent personably likeable
and well-mannered,

finding the arithmetic of emotional fidelity
extremely private.

Only a small part of what is said can be verified.

(first published in J Journal)

Mozhel Bovitz

by Arne Weingart

My Mother never sent anyone to hell
what did she know of hell instead
she sent them back to Mozhel Bovitz

the place they had obviously come from
Mozhel Bovitz where the plain girls of Minsk

are sent to learn how to be homely and where
the simple boys of Pinsk serve out their
apprenticeship at being lifelong fools Mozhel

Bovitz where the delicacies of the table are never
inedible just beside the point where the Mayor

digs ditches and the tailor goes naked
where my uncle of blessed memory had a job
shoveling gold nuggets and died owing the undertaker


Apple Drop

by Nellie Hill

On a dense day damp with drizzle
on my way to get the mail
I walk by the barn where
the horses are grazing as usual.
They don’t look up,
but slowly all three
edge closer to the fence
to smell my new green umbrella.
Grassy mouths and hay breath.
Behind them the cobwebbed barn
is full of the hollow shells of spiders.

The fences and the barn, too,
will be pulled down,
while the little tree continues
with its green, misshapen apples
each year, a meadow full of them.


a conversation in poetry

by Walter Bargen and John Samuel Tieman


after making love
by a small and nameless stream
she misses Pine Street


All day in bright sun
Willow leaves
Reflect upon the water.


two deaf kids walking
down the hall – their hands flutter
the way words flutter

Car window down
Autumn leaves on the driver’s seat
Going places.


Song of the Antagonist
By Duncan Campbell

In my family we bloom late but swan-like
say otherwise and I’ll feed your teeth to you
watch your tongue or I’ll teach you
what your legs are for runner
what you need is a nose about half as long
I can fix that for you put enough holes
in you to make your body whistle
when the wind goes through
I will only ever love sisters
and daughters yours fully in the night
with my fingers white around and on them
and when you come for me
to make me take it back I won’t even have to spit
at you for you to turn and run


The Porch

By Heather McNaugher

I don’t go out there. No way
not with the men
and the dogs and the chance
I might run into Marley
who might need a ride, her daughter
keeps stealing her car, not when
I could be inside with my books
BBC whispering civilized
on the radio, not when boys
on bicycles, belligerent and free, roam the alley
and to whom I might say “Hi!”
and they might laugh
their derisive pubescent laugh,
their too-cool-for-school-unwilling
lest-I-be-mistaken-for-a-faggot laugh and now, see,
I’m a girl again, punished
for leaving the house.


Our Room With Open Door

by Jeanine Stevens

Through double doors, sunlight sprinkles on rush mats
and high ceilings are restored to look old. Arches and roses
stretch for acres, and poets sit by the far pond
most of the afternoon writing or napping.
Then, kir on the terrace, and a late dinner of foie gras,
poisson grilles and tarte aux pomme. The full moon
basks over the green Vézère River and soft voices in canoes
hold torches for an evening journey – the same water
where small broad-backed horses drank their fill.
The delicate skulls now sit in the museum and it is said
their fur was pale yellow to bluish grey. I’d love to see
the tiny hooves kicking up colored stones at rivers’ edge.
In the morning – flat faces of lime-scented geraniums
press against our window, insistent, damp and warm.


Comments Off