At Yosemite with Max, Age 6

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At Yosemite with Max, Age 6

By Iris Jamahl Dunkle

“Yohhe'meti (Southern Miwok) or Yos.s.e'meti (Central Miwok) originally referred to the Indian tribe that lived in Yosemite Valley. Yosemite means literally “those who kill.”

We watch the golden net of leaves fall then rise from the tree – suspended against the steep shadows of granite cliffs like golden notes.  When he stops I see his eyes gather awe.  He will not walk on, is fixed and hungry to watch leaves circle in crisp valley air.
Yesterday, at the Visitors Center we listened to a recorded child’s voice speak a history for the Miwok from a diorama filled with plastic ghosts, then, we sat, in a small redwood kotcha, his body close, his questions circling mine, circling the stories we had heard. In this sweet darkness there was the scent of earth between history and what’s been forgotten.
The valley is a granite bowl where the past still burns a cold silver thread through impossible stone, under a one-eyed moon. Those born here fought to the death to stay.
This is what we do not say.  Golden words like leaves netted in air.  Lost, but continually returning. 

Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the current Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA.  Her latest book is There's a Ghost in this Machine of Air (2015). Her debut collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay to win the 2012 Trio Award.  Her latest collection, Interrupted Geographies, will be published by Trio House Press later this year.  Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers' Conference.

Featured image courtesy of Max Pixel freegreatpicture.com

Whistler Campground at Jasper National Park

Whistler Campground at Jasper National Park

By Mary Ellen Talley

rain torrents churn across the Canadian Rockies
we cook dinner under an SUV vinyl-tablecloth tarp
freeze-dried chili, cheese scones and a bottle of ale
then careful not to touch walls in the dry tent
we listen to thunder of the gods warring – sleep
sunrise we sit on red, white, and blue flag chairs
just so happens it’s Canada Day here
we’re reading after hot chocolate and banana bread
big rig RV rolling homes pull out, towing their cars
family of bikers wearing helmets pedal to a day trek
we’ll head out soon after bear proofing our campsite
watch crows and chipmunks eyeing the last marshmallow
see the axe stuck in the wood block, wet firewood
long north day – morning sun on my back

Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have most recently been published in Typoetic.us and Kaleidoscope as well as in recent anthologies, The Doll Collection, All We Can Hold: poems of motherhood and Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace. Her poetry has received a Pushcart Nomination. She has worked for many years with words and children as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in Washington public schools.

 

Featured image courtesy the author.

Flightless Bird

Bald Eagle State Forest is located in north central Pennsylvania.

Bald Eagle State Forest is located in north central Pennsylvania.

Flightless Bird

By BJ Ward

I know I don’t hold road as sacred

as hawk must hold air,

                                 but driving

through Bald Eagle State Forest

I must have glimpsed a little

                      of that wind religion.

 

                      ○

 

Warblers strum the instruments of their bodies

in rivergrass fresh with snake musk.

 

They are belting,

          all of them belting,

 

We are here!

          We are here!

                      Yes this is where we are!

 

                      ○

 

This is what I want to be—

an extension of something here,

                      something now

 

that sweet something that won’t grasp you

                 or be grasped—that dark,

          sugary,    evolving something.

 

It’s that air, that road

                    between my ribs.

 

                      ○

 

I know the exact size of my bones

the way hawk knows angle,

circumference, the perfect geometry of be.

 

It’s the inherent knowledge,

                      the only religion

we can believe in

by praying solely within the cathedrals

of our own bodies.

 

                      ○

 

                                              And who,

after seeing the flowing and dipping,

 

                                  gliding and gyring,

 

can argue that hawk

                                  is not an extension

                                                          of air?

 

                      ○

 

The spruce rise like nine thousand steeples

                                              and if I could

                      stop this car

                                       on this road

                                              that never seems to end

 

I would kneel before this blue altar of sky.

Yes, this is where I am,

the religion I know for now.

It is found in the personal,

the slow revelations that have always

been true for me, the ones I'm just coming to

in this state forest.

Here,

in the cracked angling of pines,

a wind stirs up inside me.

                      ○

From Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990 to 2013 by BJ Ward, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2013 by BJ Ward. Reprinted by permission of publisher. BJ Ward is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems 1990-2013, which received the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. His poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, The New York Times, The Normal School, and The Sun. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and two Distinguished Artist Fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts. His website is www.bj-ward.com.

Featured image courtesy Nicholas A. Tonelli / CC

 

Road Trip: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Road Trip: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

By Kristin Bryant Rajan

After a long night,
an empty stomach,
relentless winds,
sleeping on a stick,
hidden from your touch
by thick layers
of sweaters, sleeping bags, hats, and scarves,
I wake to light in Indiana.

Birds and squirrels
rustling through soggy leaves
atone for a tent that will not stand,
a toilet that will not flush.
The cold Midwest wind in early spring
building mountains of sand
can also blow away
the burdens of this journey.

I venture to the woods alone
crawling deep inside the morning darkness of this forest,
climbing hills that grip my thighs
and give me back my breath,
then bumbling down again,
struggling to keep pace with dumb feet
skipping, flying
hoping more than breakfast
to maintain always this momentum.

Running with the rhythm of birds’ songs
I find light and breath                                                                                                                                     with the sunrise.

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Kristin Bryant Rajan is a PhD in English, with a focus on Virginia Woolf, and an interest in the nature of identity in modernist literature. She currently teaches at a community college in Atlanta, GA and enjoys writing fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Her writing can be found in: The Watershed Review, The Explicator, The Fredericksburg Literary and Arts Review, The Apeiron, the anthologies Moon Days: Creative Writing about Menstruation and Just A Little More Time: 56 Authors on Love and Loss, among others. She was chosen as a 2016 Pushcart nominee and Best of the Net nominee. She finds writing to be an extension of her daily meditation practice, opening her awareness to the wonders of each day.

Featured image courtesy Kevin Spitta / CC

Winter 
Lake Erie, New York

Winter

Lake Erie, New York

By Mary Christine Kane

The uncles
have been out on the ice again.
They bring home trout
which grandma will bread and fry.
Their bodies turn the kitchen cold.
We breathe in chill.

Mary Christine Kane grew up in Western New York and now lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she works as a freelance writer. She earned an MFA from Hamline University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Burner Magazine, Right Here Right Now, The Buffalo Anthology, Bluestem, Soundings and others.

Featured image courtesy the author.

In His Arms

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In His Arms

By Gabriella Brand

"In His Arms", was inspired by Sleeping Giant State Park, in Connecticut.

Our sleeping Goliath lies on his back, with a deep gorge neck and a trap rock belly.
He’s scrawny, as giants go. Nothing like you’d see in Utah or Wyoming.
Just a few miles long from head to heel, and seven hundred feet high at his left hip.
But from his volcanic loins, you can see the gray waters of Long Island Sound, the gothic spires of New Haven.
He’s a Leviathan of legend, at least around here. Let’s climb the Giant.  Even children say it.
He’s not the scary sort. Unless you do something thoughtless, like disturb the timber rattlesnakes he keeps in his pockets.
He’s more like a dozing grandpa, the kind who lets you to scramble onto his lap or play on his knobby knees.
That’s not to say he can’t be difficult.
Sometimes climbers fall, perish even, as they hoist themselves up a slippery rib or belay off his chin.
But mostly our Colossus is mellow. Peregrine falcons nest, undisturbed, on his forehead.
Did I mention that his cranium is balding, where an old quarry once stood?
On Sunday mornings, when the city itself slumbers, I pay my respects to this stately elder.
With my walking stick in hand, I follow a quiet trail,
When I find a flat ledge with a view, I stop and sit. And there I think about seismic rifts, the upheavals of human history, the pebbled problems of my own life.
The Big Man has seen it all.
From down in the valley, I hear church bells. I picture the pious folks heading into pews.
But I too, am in a sacred place, cradled comfortably in the Giant’s arms.

 

Gabriella Brand’s short stories, poems, and non-fiction have appeared in Room Magazine, Poetry Breakfast, The Blue Line, StepAway, The Christian Science Monitor and in many anthologies. One of her poems was featured in the latest anthology called District Lines from the Washington,D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose. Gabriella divides her time between Connecticut, where she teaches foreign languages, and The Eastern Townships of Quebec, where she hikes and canoes. She has done several solo walking treks, including the 1500 kilometer path called the 88 Temples of Shikoku, Japan as well as the Camino de Santiago. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Visit her website, gabriellabrand.net

 

 

Bedruthan

Bedruthan

By Jennifer Moore

This poem was inspired by the Bedruthan Steps on the Atlantic Coast in Cornwall, England; visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carnewas-at-bedruthan to learn more. The jutting granite rocks dotted across the beach are, according to local legend, stepping stones for the giant Bedruthan.

On days like this, when the wild wind whips
your salt-worn cheeks,
her brined breath iced with fury;
when you thrill to hear the cymbal clash
of wave on slate, its crash, its smack;
when the ragged crags come thrusting up,
rearing from the swirling sea
like jagged fins, I ask you,
can you see him too?
The ancient giant who shook these shores,
still striding tall,
each booted foot a shudder-clap
to snap the stone
from tufted cliffs,
to quake the scudding clouds,
to wake
the drowned men
from their churning beds?

Jennifer Moore’s previous poetry publications include Mslexia, South and Other Poetry, and she won the 2015 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest. Visit her at https://jennifermoore.wordpress.com

Featured image courtesy Loz Pycock / CC

Clear Creek Trail

Clear Creek Trail

By Joe Betz

Clear Creek Trail has an entry point on the south side of Bloomington, Indiana. When taking it, you will find the creek, but it is hidden behind trees and brush and you must seek it out — otherwise, the paved path leads you near the creek but you are often deprived of its charm. This poem remembers my family's first walk on the trail.

You must step off the paved path
following divots splitting bushes,
young oaks, to find the creek.
We took our daughter.  Soundless
the sandstones crush with a stick’s weight
near the water’s edge.  Shaded,
the lines of a child’s face deepen,
hedge mazes to get lost in.

***

Orange lilies trace a stone then cut
through brush flanking a new route back
to the trail.  We’ll take it, soon, but first
we’ll step slowly to the water, bend,
smile at our reflections splintered
by leaves falling, faster now, in this wind.

Joe Betz is an Assistant Professor of English at Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His poems have been published in journals such as Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Portland Review, and The Paris-American. He is the winner of a Goldstein Prize, given by Michigan Quarterly Review.

Featured image by Vmenkov / CC.

what’s wild

what’s wild

By Brendan Walsh

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

not the Great Blue Heron
wading to-its-ankles in alligator swamp
the bluer sky unbothered by cloud
not the algae-shelled Florida Cooter
whose yellow-slashed neck retracts
at sound striations bellowing the water
not butterwort, bladderwort;
the leaves that feed on flies
not wood storks blotting the black trees white
or blank honks of geese at the far pond
whose wings know first frost
and weary miles of air
it’s how we built highways
around this—called stone a road,
tree a home, rain a drink,
gator not god but meat
it’s that we call coming here
visiting not returning
not belonging not
what is so clearly, definitely lost

Brendan Walsh has fallen in love with South Korea, Laos, and all of New England; he currently lives in South Florida to sate his palm tree needs. He has been published in Connecticut Review, LONTAR, Wisconsin Review, Lines + Stars, and other journals. His second collection, 'Go,' was published by Aldrich Press in 2016. His work has been awarded the Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets, the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize, and a Freedman Prize for poetry in performance. He can be found at www.brendanwalshpoetry.com

Featured imaged courtesy the author.

Sunset For Now at Naples, Florida

Sunset For Now at Naples, Florida

By Andy Fogle

Check, check. All the standard elements
are here: sea-sky horizon, the small-shelled
shore-lip, scattered palms, a happily
zig-zagged pier, a boulder jetty
that works for now. It’s like walking through
a photo album: a father holding
his small daughter, then hands with his wife,
who later chase-stalks her son. The whole
family of four, framed by these tokens
and an aging man’s squint, who is three things
to these four people — father, father-
in-law, grandfather — and his tremor
does not for now. Pan the scene: a group
of twenty-somethings timing their leap
for the camera on a tripod; a man
with a construction company t-shirt
teaches his son to surf; smokers fume
on the wood steps leading from lot to sand;
retirees in lawn chairs with coolers
of boxed wine and cutting boards. In a few years,
some of these kids will be big, some of these
elders ash, and vice versa. They’ve gathered
to witness another day pass. The air
is stable and clear, the light less scattered,
so when the sun slips, they glimpse the green flash,
treasured mirage, and then, for now, they all applaud.

 

Andy Fogle has five chapbooks of poetry, with poems, translations, memoir, interviews, criticism, and educational research in Mid-American Review, Blackbird, South Dakota Review, Natural Bridge, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, English Journal, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. He lives in upstate NY, teaching high school and working on a PhD in Education.

Featured image courtesy Victor Baquero / CC

Below Freezing

Below Freezing

By Celeste Hackenberg

Never grew
cold enough to miss you

without winter.
Just a little wind in Sacramento

every year. Our
lives were heavy then,

a quilt
I couldn’t lift. 

 When I left, you
rented a cabin at Lake Tahoe. We

wore rain boots
in the snow until our feet turned black,

smoked cigars
to celebrate having lungs.
                    
The temperature
dropped, but couldn’t shake

us awake.
It was so late by the time

the seasons changed.
I ought to have loved you then

wooled warm
under the blanket, so

alive just the way
I would have wanted.

 

Celeste Hackenberg earned her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in December 2016. As a graduate student, she worked on the SLC Poetry Festival and co-created an annual Alumni Festival to showcase the talent of previous students. She also served as Art Director and submissions reader for LUMINA, Sarah Lawrence’s student-run literary magazine, for two years. Currently, she is living in Westchester county with her three cats and one person. She works in Harlem as an academic advisor at CUNY Start and writes mostly prose poems and haikus about eggs.

Featured image courtesy Barrie Family / CC

Water In The Coals

Water In The Coals

By Gary Bloom

After I got married, my wife and I would drive up from Minneapolis and camp in the Superior National Forest in Northern Minnesota, often at the same campsites where I went when I was a kid. This poem was inspired by a camping trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Superior National Forest. We continued to go camping there until we moved to New Orleans in 1983. 

We look to the woods for our privacy and answers.
All thoughts are burned in the evening fire, and
the bacon grease we wash away beneath
the rusted pump, turning to hard
white ivory in the water,
suddenly ignites in the pan,
leaving no decisions to be made.
We eat our bacon in the dark,
quiet except for a few waves
and the fire gasping for
breath between buckets of water
and then we move
silently beneath the thick patched cloth
the musty canvas smell
the wood smoke in our hair
surrounds us without a sound
but a few waves
and water steaming in the coals.

 

Gary Bloom has published articles, poetry, photography, and fiction in numerous print and online magazines, including Breath and Shadow, American Visions, Milwaukee Magazine, The Buffalo News, The Grand Rapids Press, Grit, Cappers, Oasis, Mankato Poetry Review, Players, and Black Diaspora.  He grew up in Minneapolis and has Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Mankato (Minnesota) State University. After working for many years as a computer programmer and database administrator he now lives and writes in Pass Christian, Mississippi. This poem appeared in Oasis in 1993.

Featured image courtesy the author.

What the Canyon Teaches

What the Canyon Teaches

By Richard Kempa

How loud is the clamor within your head, distancing you.
How quiet the world beyond this welter waiting to welcome you.

How far it is possible to walk in one day — an astonishment!
How immense the world you walk through, and meaningless the map.

How few are your needs. Sip, nibble, nap, lack nothing.
How strong is your body, forgiving of abuses and neglect.

How simple is your task, a sequence of sure steps.
How safe you are on this earth, if you attend to it.

How intricate, how lush, life is. Sit still, know its wealth.
How precious is each moment you are privileged to draw breath.

Poet and essayist Rick Kempa has been hiking in and writing about the Grand Canyon since 1974. His most recent books are the anthologies GOING DOWN GRAND: Poems from the Canyon (Lithic Press 2015), which he co-edited with Peter Anderson, and ON FOOT: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories(Vishnu Temple Press 2014), as well as the poetry collection Ten Thousand Voices (Littoral Press 2013). Rick served as Grand Canyon Artist in Residence at the South Rim in July 2010 and the North Rim in June of 2013. rickkempa.com

Featured image courtesy the author.

The Dorothy Stewart Trail Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Dorothy Stewart Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico

By Julie Moore

Whiptails, with their seven yellow stripes
    head to tail, their pale blue bellies
         and turquoise-tinted throats,

dart across the trail I walk,
     sun hot as jalapeños,
          air dry as the dirt below

that somehow cacti and aloe,
     black pine and sagebrush
            suckle —

a place where every mineral in my will
    meets my fright (two roots, entwined,
         protrude from the ground

like the heads of snakes)
    and can collapse like earth
        exhausted from the weight of heat

or forge a new course
          like these copious chips of mica,
              crumbs of light worth following anywhere.

Julie L. Moore is the author of Particular Scandals, published in The Poiema Poetry Series by Cascade Books. Her other books include Slipping Out of Bloom and Election Day. Moore’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, Nimrod, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. Her work also has appeared in several anthologies, including Becoming: What Makes a Woman, published by University of Nebraska Gender Programs, and Every River On Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio, published by Ohio University Press. You can learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.

Featured image courtesy the author.  Author photo by Carol Sybenga.

The Devil’s Corkscrew

The Devil’s Corkscrew

      —for M.E.

By Thom Schramm

We found it best in monsoon times
to head down after three, when the late sun
begins to skim its blades along the plateau top
and shade tilts off the canyon rim,
then camp a night under the cottonwoods
not more than halfway to the river, looking out
of course for scorpions and shooting stars
that entered our fields of vision—by then
depending for perspective on the rim,
which seemed to hold a giant eye
we lived within. From there we had a chance
to wake in time to reach the corkscrew before noon,
when we would lose the safety of
triangular cascades of shade and need
to concentrate to keep our misery at bay,
plus hope no windbursts would suddenly plow
across the sky the sort of storm that swept
a tour group through a gorge and killed them all
except their leader, who was found
injured on a ledge, his clothes torn from him.

At daybreak, coming down the long approach, we saw
the distant corkscrew, which appears   
to open up the inner gorge, making
it reachable for some from such a steep downgrade,
and just before we turned into its threads,
near a smooth tongue of gray rock formed when
lava met the sea that once filled that place,     
we found a puddle, nearly mud
but still deep enough to be a limbo
for tadpoles near the end of metamorphosis.
We watched them wave their shrinking tails
until an old man arrived from below,
wheezing with asthma he told us he tried to beat
by hiking early on hot days. “Turn back —”
he joked, “You’re both too young to die,” then rose
slowly into the distance, like a ghost.

Soon we traversed the scarp along
the corkscrew’s trail, which swung us wide at first
but tightened in the bottom half, where our descent’s
momentum peaked as the sunlight
increased, though more than once we had to stop
to stop ourselves from plunging off the acute ends
of switchbacks. Through the final serpentine
turns, dizzily we passed into the gorge
and heard the river’s roar in the hell-hot sun.

Thom Schramm's poems have appeared in journals such as The American Scholar, New Letters, Ploughshares, and Poetry Northwest. He is the author of the poetry chapbook The Leaf Blower and editor of the poetry anthology Living in Storms: Contemporary Poetry and the Moods of Manic-Depression.

Featured image courtesy National Parks Service/Michael Quinn / CC

 

 

On This Uncertain Earth

On This Uncertain Earth

By Kory Wells

We walk expectantly among the geysers,
the land here like nothing we’ve known before. 
We might as well be on the moon or Mars, 
there’s so much we can’t name, 
vague cues we don’t recognize
until the moment they spew
like hot secrets. Look how the minerals rise
and shimmer. How the mud simmers
in pastel swaths. How twilight lasts and lasts.

Now, in our room at the open window,
we lie and watch, just watch, 
the cool thin air from which like magic
bats appear, scores of them,
to spin and spiral in the pine tops
because we all need to eat, and
isn’t a little dancing good for the soul?

In this wilderness we've come to understand
perilous, and more than that, precarious, 
and more than that, possible,
which is why we see now, 
through the fogged gloaming, 
beyond the bats and thick pines, 
massive buffalo grazing, and beyond them
a lone chipmunk skittering to its burrow.

Soon it will be dark enough to see
the Milky Way, and a million stars winking
down on this yellow, bubbling earth, 
down on our warm forms almost lost
among the soft spots biding their time, hungry
for something we’d rather not name.

Kory Wells lives near Nashville, Tennessee, where she advocates for the arts, democracy, afternoon naps, and other good causes. Author of Heaven Was The Moon (March Street Press) and a two-time finalist for the Rash Award for Poetry, she mentors poetry students in the low-residency program MTSU Write.  She and her husband visited Yellowstone in 2015. Read and listen to more of her work at korywells.com

Featured image courtesy Max Pixel / CC0

Middle Fork

Middle Fork

By Joshua Lefkowitz

Middle Fork Nature Preserve is a short drive from the tri-city area of Champaign-Urbana-Rantoul, Illinois. The first time I went there, it shocked my New-York-City-wired system, and the experience triggered the poem.

Taking in the nature sanctuary
step by silent step I struggled
to relax my Avenue of the Americas mind
so far removed from city sound
with only nothing
and you as company.
A shallow creek replaced the traffic jam
and a three-pronged path echoed my life so far.
This forest version of Broadway aped the original:
nothing original, relying on standard revivals
to bring in the crowds (green leaves,
green grass, a high C azure sky).
We kept walking and I wondered why
or how you could stand it!  I hated
the anxious blood-pulse inside my head,
hated how helpless I felt not knowing
where we were going;
hated the way the quiet clanged,
or the utmost of indifference offered up
by a stick stuck in thick dried mud.
But I knew, too, the good
of easy canopied light
and the humbling that comes from being
anywhere foreign or nature-oriented.
From there, you drove us home.
From there, we keep inching forward like worms
who believe in the fresh wet dirt of a rainy tomorrow.
Yet more and more I feel
there’s some answer in that arboretum silence.
It's hard and I don't know how but
I think we may need to go back.

Josh Lefkowitz won the 2013 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Prize, an Avery Hopwood Award for Poetry at the University of Michigan, was a finalist for the 2014 Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize, and won First Prize in the 2016 Singapore Poetry Contest. His poems and essays have been published at Barrelhouse, The Awl, Conduit, The Rumpus, The Huffington Post, and many other places. He has also recorded humor pieces for NPR's All Things Considered and BBC's Americana.

Sherwood Park Lima, Ohio

Sherwood Park
Lima, Ohio

By J.M. Green

Looking back, I concede these were not
Major luxuries. A large L-shaped pool,
Two diving boards and a slide –
But swim meets in the evenings,
And days when junior high
Crushes brushed against each
Other, during water games.

Near the baby pool, elementary
School teachers congregated
To complain about children,
While rocking their own.
Retired auto plant workers sat
In a circle of lawn chairs
Drinking beer until a teenaged
Lifeguard received a call
At the desk. A chirpy voice then
Would flutter through the intercom:
“Mr. McClure, your wife wants
You home for dinner” or “Mr.
Graham, she says she’s having
A hard time getting the
Wallpaper to put itself up.”

It had a clubhouse:
Fourth of July dances,
Neighborhood meetings
Where they debated and decided
Official club colors.
Only three tennis courts
But hours of lessons, round robins.
The reservation board hung
On the chain link fence
Got stored in a shed years before
The nets were rolled up.

If I could just mount a horse,
Ride to those areas outside town,
Once covered with corn and
Soybean fields, rob the land
Of those holes – not all eighteen,
But a few of the smaller pars –
And several of the hot tubs
Planted in decks and scattered
Around cul-de-sacs, then throw
Them into my bag, toss them
Inside the crumbling white brick
wall, I damn sure would.

J.M. Green is the author of the chapbook Super Rich (Pudding House, 2008). His writing has appeared in Forklift, Ohio, The New Verse News, Poemeleon, The Oklahoma Review, The Oral History Review, Cincinnati Magazine and other publications. A former Marine and CIA analyst, Green is now a librarian at Xavier University and serves as a judge for the Ohioana Poetry Award from the Ohioana Library. He lives in West Chester, OH with his wife and daughter.

Featured image adapted from picture by Sam Howitz / CC

Marblehead

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Marblehead

By Kerry Trautman

Inspired by Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio.

The lighthouse lamp is dark,
and the caretaker’s shack — their insides locked,

shuttered from thunder, mayflies,
and the always always

wind. Young, I was willing to teeter on slick seaweedy
boulders, calf-deep

in the cold, Lake Erie side of the waves—
not the calm Sandusky Bay

side of childhood, of railway howls,
of Grandpa’s coal-dock towers,

of perch fishing off
Uncle Tom’s Lyman. I knew the water dropped off

deep somewhere, hard with earth’s cold
minerals. Kelly’s Island

on the horizon, with its snakes.
Canada beyond, with caribou and glaciers.

Older now, I would be willing to abandon
my inland

everything, for a post-war bungalow where
families summered away

from the bottle factory, shipyard
and schoolhouse. I would plant a peach orchard,

stitch a kite, allow constant wind and gulls to weave
through my clapboards, gust me

with wet sand and walleye, and wait for
the light to be restored.

Kerry Trautman’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in various journals, including The Fourth River, Alimentum, Midwestern Gothic, Third Wednesday, and Think Journal, as well as in anthologies such as Mourning Sickness (Omniarts, 2008,) Roll (Telling Our Stories Press, 2012,) and Journey to Crone (Chuffed Buff Books, 2013.)  Her chapbook, To Have Hoped, is available from Finishing Line Press. Her chapbook, Artifacts, is forthcoming in 2017 from NightBallet Press. Visit Kerry at Kerry Trautman

Featured image courtesy Benny Manzur / CC

Geyser

Geyser

By Tom Zimmerman

We drank four fingers’ width of Idaho
potato vodka, wolfed a hamburger,
slugged beer below the Tetons. Horses begged
like dogs for French fries, mom and daughter, brown
as burning earth and melting with the flow
of images, kaleidoscopic blur
before/behind our eyes. Half-drunk, we legged
it up a switchback on a cliff-face, down
a canyon. Rainbow falls, wildflowers, pines:
each axis vertical, so we could glide
to paradise or slide to hell, the roof
of which we walked in Yellowstone, with lines
of pilgrims, faithfully, to see a fried
white angel flee the earth, redemption’s proof.

Thomas Zimmerman teaches English and directs the Writing Center at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Among his several poetry chapbooks are In Stereo (Camel Saloon, 2012) and From Green to Blue and Back (Zetataurus, 2016). Visit Tom's website, https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/

Featured image courtesy of the author.