Issue Thirty-One – Winter 2018

The Winter of our (Dis)content

By Stephanie Barbé Hammer

What better moment in our profoundly messed up time to quote Richard III? Shakespeare can really write about dysfunctional regimes. I find myself thinking about the plays that focus on the rot at the top: Richard the III of course, but also Hamlet, King Lear, and even Measure for Measure, where a predatory puritanical ruler tries to blackmail a beautiful novice into having sex with him. A lot of Shakespeare sounds familiar to me right now.

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Mid-January with Chinese Poet — For Doug

By Chet Corey

I am reading Meng Hao-jan’s poems
and drinking the last of tea at twilight.

My wife, up from a late-in-the-day nap,
has taken the dog for her evening walk.

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An Island of Bamboo

By Young Smith

In the hillside cow pasture, an island of bamboo.
We boys creep inside, find the old homestead—

nothing left of the house but a chimney and a well.
We crouch at the lip of stone, drop pebbles

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Glass Breather

By Ellen Zhang

Here is flickering flame, furrowed brow of
Blaschka as he pulls to tease crenate edges,
strictness and softening of pursuit.
He tends a garden with oxygen and propane
through leather bellows, the very sense of

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Farewell, My Homeland

By Anne Whitehouse

After the war, Poland’s borders shifted west.
Russia gained; the Germans were kicked out.
The few Jews who returned
were resettled in the west,
away from their homes in the east.

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By Karen Vande Bossche

because we don’t complain
about the piteousness of dove gray clouds
or the ostentation of aerial blue
because we need slumber less
to troop and swing by tail and limb

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By Gretchen Wing

When the Santa Fe River ran again, it took nearly a week to wash away all the footprints in its sandy bed. By this time the cottonwoods were greening into their impossible lime, the color of those tight tank tops the high school girls wear even when it’s cold. Up by the Los Alamos labs, where I commute to keep those atoms safely splitting for America, the trees are dying of drought and bark beetle. So I notice the green in the Santa Fe

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London to Bristol

By William Horn

Donna doesn’t say much. Donna likes to drive. Donna likes football. I think Donna is a lesbian, but I never quite pluck up the courage to ask. Donna wears jeans and t-shirts and sneakers every day, rain or shine. Donna has a sausage roll and a can of coke every day for lunch. She buys it at Gregg’s down the street for a pound fifty. She shows it to me and always says ‘bargain!’ The joy of the meal deal never gets old for her.

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Hotel Charlie

By Jed Wyman

On the first full blazing-blue sky day of spring you stop by her office at the university’s Humanities Center, where, as well as teaching writing at the local community college in the neighboring town—where you also teach—she works as a secretary. The Humanities Center, its red brick exterior fringed with ivy, you call Hotel Charlie, a holdover from the phonetic alphabet you use when talking on the radio during your

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By Joseph Mills

He’s here because Lily asked him to come. Just as he goes to the plays, the recitals, the “holiday” pageants that are really Christmas shows with one or two Hanukah songs, the gymnastics “meets” where kid do “routines” which consist of rolling around on the mats for a few minutes and then lining up for photographs which are available for purchase at twenty bucks a print. He has three or four of them, plus the ones he gets at

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Only Eight

By Sue Granzella

I crouched next to the green rocking chair as Alejandro faced his twenty-seven third-grade classmates. They were cross-legged on the threadbare grey carpet, waiting for him to read his first completed story of the year. I tried to intercept the gaze of any who would glance my way, my silent plea to receive his story kindly. Things didn’t come easily for Alejandro.

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What I Brought to Your Grave

By Jimmy Pappas

You were just a young girl when you saw
that couple on Turtle Beach find that living
creature in a shell. The man said, Let’s go back
to the car and get the cigarette lighter.
You asked me to explain what that meant.

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By Sarah Carleton

The mouse in our house is a rat,
lugging stale pita across the floor
like a shield,

slipping inside the stove
all scramble and scratch,

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By Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

The cinnamon freckles that are dusted on my body are identical to the ones on the bodies of my sometimes former, sometimes current, nighttime, kind-of-friends. [I wouldn’t go as far as to call the speckled procession, ‘lovers’]. When our bodies combined, the specks were capable of soaking up twice the amount of vitamin D — especially in dark rooms.
Ephelides awoke in the sunshine. But stormy weather would wash away the little stains,

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Comings and Goings

By Michael H. Sato

Father comes then goes in the morning
Looking into the bathroom mirror,
Mother, too, when I take the pills
And wait for the blood pressure reading.
Where do they go the rest of the time

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By Richard Ratliff

In the wind that ruffles through the trees
I can find thoughts of you whispering to me
Memories like a great novel, love songs and themes
The morning sun works its way through the leaves

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Lies I Told My Mother

By Martha Kay Salinas

I tell my mother that my friend Janice and I plan to visit Holy Family Catholic Church on Sunday morning. I’ve been interested in becoming Catholic, or better yet, a nun, ever since seeing the movie, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. Of course I’ll be the kind of nun who falls in love with a handsome priest just before taking her final vows. He’ll leave the church for me, and we’ll live the rest of our lives in a state of holy, mystical, pious bliss.

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Crow and the Marvelous Wonderful Thing

By Kimberly Lundstrom

The autumn sun shone brilliant on the still-wet leaves, flashing orange and gold against rain-slicked trunks. Crow perched on the uppermost branch of a swaying hemlock and surveyed the beauty below. He called out a greeting to a couple of relations as they winged past, and received their replies with a bobbing head. Life was good.

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A Small Congregation

By Carol L. Gloor

It was ridiculous to write about sunsets
until I noticed the girl on the Chicago El,
the one with fingerless gloves
and five rings on her face, start snapping
photos with her cell phone.

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Ms. Havisham

By Kathleen Holliday

By Kathleen Holliday I, too, had great expectations. To be or not to be a wife defined my life. My dowry guaranteed a husband, and I would be a mother, helpmeet, nurse. Nothing could be worse than that damning epithet: old maid. Left at the altar – jilted. My bouquet wilting, I drew my veil […]

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I’m Pretty Sure That’s Not It.

By Randall Brown

“Well,” she said, “what’s it mean?”
I thought I’d try to save her. “That guy, Pablo. He really liked lemons.”
“That’s all?” The marker hovered over the whiteboard.
I thought of that bird on television, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

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Our Home

By Sarah Carleton

Evening snuck in while
you were knitting,
eyes downward,
focused on a head full of knots.
Your labrador followed in a deeper hue,

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By Cathy Schoenberg

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By Jessica Dubey

In my daughter’s dream
I reach for the salt shaker.
Parts of me dissolve.
I dab the corners
of my mouth.

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By Donna Isaac

Early on pubescent girls learned about undergarments:
training bras, panties, garter and sanitary
napkin belts, girdles, bustiers, sports bras.
Was there ever so much devised to hold
so little in?

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Eat and Dream

By Christopher Nye

Now 90 and still on her own land,
she sits by the sunny window
straight up in her chair,
once-strong peasant hands
holding the arms.

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A Latter Birthday

By Mercedes Lawry

I sit in the tomato red chair,
flanked by shingled light,
the grist of so many Aprils,
struggles and joys of bloom,
ladders of bird notes, my misbegotten

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Insect Peril

By Mercedes Lawry

I went down in the back where the listing shed
made a green hump. I was seeking blackberries in the mess.
The crows were disturbed or mocking
or minding their crow business with noise.
Wasps ribboned the brambles and I thought to take care.

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Prepaid Calls

By Sarah Jones

You have a prepaid call from AR4272,
a cattle-branded criminal in SLO, California;
a boy: sleepy grin, eating scrambled eggs at your mother’s table.

To accept this boy say or dial 5 now.
To be California, hold an ear tag applicator to his head.

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Weather Report

By Glen Stephens

The weather report said rain tonight
but the innocent sky is clear
and shameless stars have burst out everywhere
while the moon discreetly waits behind a hill.

Tomorrow, the sun will rise like a god

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