Issue Thirty-Four – Summer 2019

Literary Language, Interpretation and Practice

By Stephanie Barbé Hammer

As our editors prepare to launch the latest issue of SHARK REEF, perhaps you are doing what I am doing. I’m reading the Mueller Report. Perhaps like me, you are trying to imagine what Robert Mueller and his team were thinking as they pored through thousands of documents, emails and text messages and as they engaged in countless interviews with individuals who ranged from clueless to highly incompetent. And like me, maybe you too are guessing what names and addresses, what actions and deliberations, lurk behind the black blocks marked HARM TO INVESTIGATION and GRAND JURY.

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Old Love’s Sonnet

By Rose Mary Boehm

We had it made, my love, and do you think,
When looking back, it could be working still?
Well, thank you, dear. I take that potent drink
Which may protect me from this sudden chill.
I do remember being young and sure,

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It’s not as though I dislike eternal summer

By Rose Mary Boehm

I love the clamor of young voices shrieking
as they play in and out of the turquoise square
which shimmers where the sun excites it.

There is sensuality in sand running through
my toes, my foot a timer for the speed
with which the sun moves.

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Marked

By Jane Vincent Taylor

Before she saw Rothko’s colors before that late-life baptism
she was a parochial pagan bowing to a mediocrity of wheat
fields. Fine enough for a county-bound girl in Oklahoma gold
iridescent grain speaking seasons: combines, bales, harvest.

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Misfit

By Carol R. Sunde

When champagne is needed,
I suggest cod liver oil:
in a string quartet,
I am a gate-crashing tuba.

When others smile,

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Dialogues

By Chet Corey

I walk around the living room
subvocalizing–poem composing.

My wife enters, folded laundry
in her arms. “Talking to yourself,”

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First Cut

By Nancy Scott

He likes to mow on Wednesday mornings
and it’s in the fifties with sun
the color of good April poems.
I hear the hum of spring at last,

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Visual Art

By Amy Ferron

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The Letter

By John Delaney

No, the bad news hasn’t reached me yet,
though my body’s been preparing for it.
We’ve come a long way from the Pony Express.
Still, the distances have been challenging
to cross, the obstacles to overcome—
childhood, some bruises and broken bones,

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Faustian Bargain

By Christopher Nye

I dreamt the laptop in our bedroom
only achieved its stupendous power
with the help of demons that, of course,
exact their price. In my science
fiction dream these beings imperceptibly

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Candle Ice

By Eric Heyne

Candle ice slips in sheets off the shelf
over the river where it sneaks out into Lower
Tangle. Small grayling gang the shallows
for what floats by, old lake trout hover
in deeper water for stray unwary grayling,
and our waders double as overgrown

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The Gift

By Shakira Croce

It was intended to be an exercise:
eight minutes with pencil and sketch paper,
the time limit imposed
to force focus on the most important
components of design.
My brother drew
with lines so sure.

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The Bare Trees

By Anne Pitkin

It’s not summer’s greenery I love but winter’s
deciduous branches yearning upward, sky falling into them,
blue or darker blue, a star or two descending slowly, limb to limb.

Like an argument, they proceed, more often than not
complex but every iteration visible, one growing directly from the other.

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A Different Way Home

By Ryka Aoki

A long, long time ago, there was a little town, and in that little town, there was a family,
and in that family, there was a girl.

The girl was not the sort of girl whom you would have noticed. She was neither beautiful,
nor talented. She wasn’t well spoken; she didn’t wear fancy clothes or get the best grades
in school. She did know people, and would sometimes even have lunch with them, but
she had never been invited to anyone’s house, to go for a movie night, a birthday party, a
sleepover…

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Activities of Daily Living

By Annie North Kolle

On the first day of his family leave, Roy locked the knives in the gun safe. He stared at the butter knives for a while, and deciding they were fine, put them on the magnetic strip Jenny hung when they moved in. He took a step back, crossed his arms, and appraised the new setup. It reminded him of a model kitchen he might see in Sears or something from a child’splayhouse. It would have to be enough, he decided; there wasn’t time to dismount the strip before he had to leave. He took the safe key out of his pocket and hung it at the end of the strip. He got in his car and drove to the hospital.

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Consider the Kangaroo

By Sharon Goldberg

To Australians, kangaroos are ordinary. To me, kangaroos are exotic. I am a tourist from the United States and like most tourists, I hope to see kangaroos. Watch them bound 25 feet in a single hop, jump six-feet high, zoom by at 40 miles per hour powered by their muscular hind legs and propelled by their powerful tails which provide both balance and force. And since my partner Arnie and I are spending three months in the country where kangaroos are native, where they travel in groups called mobs, I expect to see a lot of them.

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Sturdy

By Paige Dempsey

There are a few kinds of places on this planet that cause my deepest, deepest self to shriek you could die here. Among them are the tops of cliffs and ski lifts. But mostly, I think of Deception Pass, where a bridge skips its way between three rocky spurs of land a stone’s throw from Washington’s border with Canada. There, cars can zoom over the strait and tourists can meander down a pedestrian walkway, snap photos, and admire the rugged cliffs of

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The Night Neil Armstrong Walked on the Moon

By Neil Mathison

Ginny’s sister, Janet, took the photo, after the first pitcher of martinis, a black and white still in its Kodak envelope that I unearthed yesterday in my old Navy sea chest. In the photo Ginny sits in an Adirondack chair, the chair with the missing slat in the back. We’re in Annapolis, the backyard of Ginny’s parent’s house. You can’t tell the chair’s color or the house’s color but I remember the chair was green and the house, once a vacation home, was a faded brown. The house sprawled along the bank of the Severn. Water moccasins inhabited the riverbank – their presence never seemed to bother anyone except me.

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Threshold

By J. Arthur Scott

I was distracted reading a work email on my phone when I first pulled the letter out of my mailbox and didn’t notice the address until I reached my apartment. It was meant for my unit, 3A, but in the next building over–the twin of my own. Bold green font promising a special offer inside meant it had to be junk mail, and for a moment my mood fell as I considered tossing it in the recycling. Instead, I left it on the counter and went to change out of my shirt and tie.

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The Lion and the Rabbit

By Srilatha Rajagopal

There was a new king in the jungle. And a hushed expectation from all the animals. A little bit of fear – of the unknown, a lot of excitement.

The hyena family seemed giddy with joy—the word on the tree was they had met the new king in private. The monkeys didn’t care. The deer seemed resigned. The zebras worried. The elephants held a private meeting.

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The Foster Child

By Judy Field

They came trooping into my third-grade classroom dressed in red and decorated for the Holidays. Antlers set at action angles, reindeer with blinking noses on thick sweatshirts, and heads weighted with Santa hats. They brought sprinkled cupcakes in lonely plastic modules, fudge in pans crusted on the sides from last month’s party, and off-brand coke and orange soda in extra-large bottles.

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What Are We Doing Here Anyway?

By Robbie Imes

When I was little my dad kidnapped me all the time. It was criminal in my mind. The work of a real sadist. All he had to do was lure me with the promise of a toy and I’d fall for it. Candy from a stranger. Except he wasn’t really a stranger, he was my dad. I got into his work van, it smelled of oil and cigarettes, and before I knew it we were halfway across town on some country road, the tools in the back rattling like an ominous soundtrack.

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What We Wear

By Lisa Heeren

I didn’t recognize the blouse that she wore in her casket, but I immediately knew I hated it. Everything about it. It was peachy-pink with lots of ruffles. She never would’ve owned a shirt like that. My mother was a classic beauty and always dressed in classic styles; straight lines, pencil skirts. Unadorned high heels and V-neck or scoop neck shirts and blouses with collars were in her closet, but never something this frilly.

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Tutka Bay Retreat

By Eric Heyne

A sucker for low tides, I walk the beach
instead of doing my homework. Abaft
a tombolo I spook a raft of ten
sea ducks that launch into two perfect
chevrons with military precision.

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