Old Cottonwood on the Forest Path
I wore my artist’s smock and camera bag.
I parked the Vibe and started walking towards you.
You were the accidental roundabout.
You were posing, his helper, bare branches, empty sky.
I gave you my silhouette, my head thrown back.
You were breaking apart and hollow.
I pulled my hands from my pockets.
I traced your blackened, furrowed heart.
I said you were here when she was here.
You said she got pregnant.
You said she married a man.
You might as well have said she overdosed.
I said asphalt and tar would kill you.
I said this culture kills and kills.
You said I’ve been standing nearly a century.
I said let me feel your broken limbs.
You scratched at my neck where her lips had been.
You pressed my fingers into your jagged edge.
Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation.
Lifting Out of Ourselves
We all have a fervent wish
to lift out of our bones into a sublime sky
deepness is impenetrable
within the split of milliseconds,
within sunken silence,
emptying the bowl of itself.
There is a lifeline map in our palms,
disturbance of belief beyond singular breath,
in which everything snaps into place,
opens its segments to reveal
a shining, intangible formula
of augmented light.
Nature is impartial. There is no judgment,
no finger-pointing, no forbidding,
no condensation of breath into tropical birds,
no revision of light. Only the return — the giving
endlessly of love — branches
of elevated love in absolved light.
This rugged land, rubbed smooth
by a carpenter’s plane, sandpaper fine —
solitudes of cold streams
lopsided furrows of plowed ages,
daybreak-ecstasy of dew.
To some, this is more than enough
to break a heart into twigs.
just beyond awakening, untangling.
Gravity has lost its hold.
the nimblest, smallest thing,
a careful, invisible hand,
feathers of rain — stillness passing,
leaving things behind.
Martin Willitts Jr.’s forthcoming poetry books include Waiting For The Day To Open Its Wings (UNBOUND Content), Art Is the Impression of an Artist (Edgar and Lenore’s Publishing House), City Of Tents (Crisis Chronicles Press), Swimming In the Ladle of Stars (Kattywompus Press), and he is the winner of the inaugural Wild Earth Poetry Contest for his full length collection Searching For What Is Not There (Hiraeth Press, 2013).
Yesterday I decided to Google 721 Sheridan Avenue, Roselle NJ. I wanted to know
whether those bushes were still there, whether the next-door driveway was still there,
whether indeed 721 Sheridan was still there. It was, the bushes too and the next door
driveway. But not our driveway, the one we used to scamper around on while Mommy
sprinkled the water hose on us most summer days. Yesterday our driveway was grass.
I moved the cursor a house or two both left and right but I didn’t recognize those houses.
So I moved it back to 721, tried to follow it into the windows, especially the top ones.
Was our old bedroom still one big room, do two children still sleep there and jump from
bed to bed?
The cursor wouldn’t go in there so I decided to Google 13 Whittier Avenue, Franklin
Township, NJ. That was before 721 Sheridan. But I kept getting 16 Whittier or 14 or 12.
Nothing was the light green house with the dark red roof.
Then I tried to move the cursor to that mailbox down the street, just before those woods.
I see mailboxes like that in thrift stores every once in a while. They’re metal and kind
of big and if there’s mail that day, a red flag perks up. My father used to take me along
when he got the mail, sometimes we’d continue walking through those woods. There was
a little brook and a tree. Once I left my Sparkle Plenty doll under that tree. She had long
golden curly hair. When I remembered her we walked back but she wasn’t there.
Next time I’m going to Google “upstairs bedroom, two wooden beds, 721 Sheridan Ave”
and “mailbox with little red flag, left end of Whittier Ave”. Maybe I’ll even Google
Marion Deutsche Cohen is expecting her 20th book any minute — Parables for a Rainy Day, Green Fuse Press, CO. Other recent titles include the memore Dirty Details: The Days and Nights of a Well Spouse (Temple University Press, PA) and Crossing the Equal Sign (Plain View Press, TX), poetry about the experience of mathematics. She teaches math at Arcadia University in Glenside PA, where she developed the course Mathematics in Literature. Other interests are classical piano, singing, Scrabble, thrift-shopping, four grown children, and three grand.
I am high on nitrous oxide.
Or did the assistant just say
that? Am I? I am? Is my
iPod plugged into my ear
or is that an angel? Emmy Lou
Harris is singing The Boxer and I lose
my equilibrium in the whirling
of my brain. It should be someone
else whose name I can't remember
just now. Simone? Nina Simone?
No. Garfinkel? Garfunkel?
Simon and Garfunkel. Yes.
Emmy Lou sings on: Li-la-li,
li-la-li li, li,li, li. I'm lying
in this chair, afloat in her voice.
Drifting on her raw, urgent voice
with no paddle up my canoe.
Is that right? No, Christina.
The assistant says something.
I was just waiting for someone
like you, Emmy sings. I open my mouth
and nod as if knowing what was asked.
The good patient. But I am not
in this chair, I am rising above
the student center at my old college,
where the steps are littered with leaves—
gold, red, brown. Good times
and lovers... In the mist, the old main
building remains, standing stately
on the corner across the quad
in gray stone and dim hallways
where it was torn down
in '68, and we live down the block
and I am young again. All of us
are still alive. I've grown used to losing
what I'm fondest of. I think of boys
I knew there—never more than friendly
strangers, but returning to me
now in this numb fog of pleasure
and pain. Three brothers, dead
for years now. My mother, father,
friends. That girl down the hall
who was killed my freshman year.
Her room as empty as her parents’ faces
when they came to gather her belongings.
I don’t want to remember what I am
in this state: I've gone inside
the student center, down the stairs,
or is it up from the basement?
I don't know now--the sun is glinting
in from the snow outside the tall,
tall windows in sharp shards of light.
Does that building even exist? Do I?
Are you all right? Someone whispers
and pats my shoulder. The work
is finished. She's said this;
not me. I nod and open my eyes
as if I understood the words.
As if I can grasp what they mean.
As if, drowning as I am in the past,
afloat with no bridge in sight, I care.
Christina Lovin is the author of A Stirring in the Dark, What We Burned for Warmth and Little Fires. A two-time Pushcart nominee and multi-award winner, her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Southern Women Writers named Lovin 2007 Emerging Poet. Having served as Writer-in-Residence at Devil’s Tower National Monument and the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Central Oregon, she served as inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Connemara, the NC home of the late poet Carl Sandburg. Lovin has been a resident fellow at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Prairie Center of the Arts, Orcas Island Artsmith Residency at Kangaroo House, and Footpaths House to Creativity in the Azores. Her work has been supported with grants from Elizabeth George Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, and Kentucky Arts Council. She resides with four dogs in a rural central Kentucky, where she is currently a lecturer at Eastern Kentucky University.
Face in the Glass
You’re at the mirror over the sink.
A practical detail—the familiar
wisp of hair on the brow, say—
calls to be tamed, and you slip
into a way of seeing the furrows,
bony ridges, cartilaginous lobes
of flesh, as a remote waste,
a wilderness in time’s drift,
strange. You’re a scientist
tracing a sphinx’s physiognomy
against the fluorescent-tinged expanse—
never seen anything like this…
till the phone rings, or your companion
(with whom you’ve slept since before
you first felt old) calls though the door,
the spell breaks, and it’s your own
face in the glass another morning,
this is your place, and as much
as you sense (a ripple through your flesh)
what’s left in that cold reflective land
as the light softens, you feel blessed
to remember your name, the comb in your hand.
Jed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International Journal, Golden Handcuffs Review, Atlanta Review, The Quotable, Jabberwock Review, Crab Creek Review, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Rose Alley Press anthology Many Trails to the Summit, and elsewhere. He’s received several recent awards, among them the 2012 Mary C. Mohr Editors’ Award from Southern Indiana Review, and Honorable Mention for the Norton Girault Literary Prize from Barely South Review.
When we try to pick something up by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
forever hitched on spools
of past occurrences:
uninsured car crash worth
two bumbling lawyers and
a life’s worth of saving,
but the crash stopped traffic
and each expanding bit
of universe, layers
all whip-stitched, spiral-bound
until the thread is tugged
and unraveled, spinning
into frayed gossame
leads one to another.
I am a single rung
on a cluttered ladder
stitched beneath atoms and
stubbed toes; angry people
wanting to buy the new
toy on a tech store shelf,
a little girl dropping
ice cream on the concrete,
I am the cop whose task
was to salvage three charred
bodies from a dead home
of three (dog included).
Unraveled cop car crash:
the family man heads home,
now poor, his daughter’s dreams
poured into a lawyer
who failed to win the case,
and sets fire to slumber.
The cop, whose lawyer won,
arrives at the scene and
absorbs the shorn ravels
of interwoven fates.
Christina Montana is currently a fourth year student at the University of Florida. She is studying English with a focus in creative writing, as well as obtaining a minor in anthropology. Predominantly a novelist and short fiction writer, this is her first poetry publication.
My girlfriend is a nihilist
lithe and wooden
pale like influenza,
a doomsday mannequin
with vacant eyes.
She likes strange
displays of affection
serves me almond-scented
strawberry tarts for breakfast
wants to teach me
how to clean a loaded gun.
Her social worker
calls me every week
suggests I move away
and change my name
but it’s hard to find a woman
at my age
plus, she doesn’t talk that much
and never has a problem being naked.
John Muth was born and raised in central New Jersey. He is an academic advisor at Rutgers University. His inspiration comes from many areas, but the frustrations and absurdities that result from the relationships between people and between people and machines are among his favorite topics. Some of his poems have appeared in The Stray Branch, Asinine Poetry, and Drown In My Own Fears.