De-constructing by Judy Melchiorre

Color photo old home with balcony and vines
 

His breakfast smells like ripe tomatoes and promises, pledged in youth and romance, a starter home, a child or two, a job with promotions and perks, naive happiness. We are older now, each creak and crack in the house has a name, unlike our shadow children. He works so hard, pale faced, heavy-footed, listlessness engraved into his bones. Desire distills into an uneasy companionship, his hand restive in mine, his shoulder sharp. I do not hear the word love, only silence, and the foundation settling. Judy is a poet based in Richmond, VA and a … Continue reading De-constructing by Judy Melchiorre

Journaling with Jenny by Jenny Patton

Sharpened pencils pointing up
 

When I was seven, I made my own journal out of legal pad paper—a little book that sparked a lifelong passion for writing down my thoughts, feelings and desires. E.M. Forster asks, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” Here’s my take: “How do I know who I am until I see what I think?” Journal writing has been proven to combat stress and help treat eating disorders, depression, addiction and other psychologically rooted problems. People who write about past traumas show stronger immune systems. After my mom died, … Continue reading Journaling with Jenny by Jenny Patton

Crossroads by Ron Wallace

Black and white foggy morning with multiple trees
 

I try to find beauty ………in the autumn night. Your stars, your moon, they’re still right there where you left them ………But without you they seem merely splinters of glass soon to be swept into winter. Every October I watch a three quarter moon ……….white as polished bone, rise among the awakening stars in a charcoal sky ……….above the crossroads where Hecate is leading ghosts into the light. I close my eyes and see you walking ……….out of Plutonian darkness into the fragile magic of Oklahoma river mist, a quarter century spinning behind my lids … Continue reading Crossroads by Ron Wallace

Guarantees by Elizabeth Meade Howard

old obsolete gravestone without inscription
 

    The gravedigger called, annoyed that I was not at the cemetery where he was waiting to lay my father’s stone marker. I’d expected his call en route and said I would get there as fast as possible. It was a steamy, late summer day some years ago and the cemetery was a 15-minute drive. My father’s ashes were encased in a black plastic box beside me. He’d died in 2000 and since then, the heavy, half empty container had collected dust in a corner of my office. He’d requested the scattering of his … Continue reading Guarantees by Elizabeth Meade Howard

Lucky? by Christine Holmstrom

Photo of knives stuck on magnetic strip
 

In Alice Sebold’s book Lucky, a memoir of her brutal rape as a college freshman, a policeman tells her she was lucky. He meant she was fortunate to have been raped and beaten rather than being raped and murdered. I was lucky too—luckier than Alice Sebold in that I’d never been raped despite taking risks in my teen years and twenties—hitchhiking, getting shit-faced drunk in bars, inviting men I barely knew into my home. And then at thirty, I’d been hired as a correctional officer—prison guard—at San Quentin, the infamous men’s maximum-security prison. Working at … Continue reading Lucky? by Christine Holmstrom

New York City Was Snowing by Julie Wenglinski

Black and white photo of NYC blizzard
 

Our beckoning cabby from Tunisia, snaked through preposterous traffic, past the icy neon signs and the greening fragrance of stacked Christmas pines, to the Met where I almost cried, nearly blind from Van Gogh’s iris and his cypress, Henri’s vase of asters, Degas dancers, until I and other spent patrons roosted like pigeons on a rare bench. Outside the cafe windows, beneath the twisted trees, hooded minks walked their dogs in pairs, West Highland White terriers in candy quilted coats, as we inhaled the blackness of our coffee and gazed the sifting snow. Julie is … Continue reading New York City Was Snowing by Julie Wenglinski

The Strangeness of Being Here at All: Franz Wright’s Redemption Story By Alex Joyner

Blurry photo of group of people
 

There are days I wake up in sluggish wonder, newly aware, as a last dream image drifts away, of the marvel of my beloved still beside me in the bed, the fan beating time through the air, and the persistence of this body and mind. Or as the poet Franz Wright would put it in a prayer: You gave me in secret one thing to perceive, the tall blue starry strangeness of being here at all. —The Only Animal “It is strange to be here. The Mystery never leaves you alone.” The Irish priest-poet John … Continue reading The Strangeness of Being Here at All: Franz Wright’s Redemption Story By Alex Joyner

Suspended by Michele Riedel

View through window with mountains
 

……….Hello? Is there anybody in there? ……….Just nod if you can hear me. ……….Is there anyone at home? …………..Comfortably Numb …………..Pink Floyd He lay on his side like a wounded animal eyes open toward the window, the morphine drip pulsing through him, the morning light becoming a thick sponge soaking up his breath— until the last angle of sunlight remained buoyant in the air. His bed a slackline where he lay balancing, arms folded, moving into shadow, could he see the dry leaved trees through the window and how they flushed through the snow? Michele … Continue reading Suspended by Michele Riedel

A Craft Talk by Katherine Smith

Sun shining though hole in red leaf
 

ALLOWING THE LEAF For an ultrasound exam, I ran on a treadmill and then was hooked up to a machine that showed my heart pumping blood. It was an incredible thing to see my heart keeping perfect time, beating with a precision, grace, and power I never knew I possessed. It’s almost embarrassing just to mention the word “heart” in a poem, and yet my heart, indifferent to its embarrassing lack of originality, keeps me alive. Heart Monitor was inspired by my echocardiogram. The heart monitor helped me see what’s always there. At around the … Continue reading A Craft Talk by Katherine Smith

The Mojave, January 1988 and Hamburgers, Macaroni Salad, and Vanilla Ice Cream at Senior Lunch Today, 2 poems by Bruce Pemberton

Color photo of Mojave desert
 

The Mojave, January 1988 Twenty-five months in the Army and who would put a kid like me in charge of a six million dollar tank? I’ve got a crew of tragically obedient soldiers, all teen-age, one who marries his sixteen-year-old second cousin and another who rides his skateboard to first form- ation every morning. They’re all good kids, but most assuredly children. We’ve been training in the desert for two weeks, in cold, sleet, wind, and constant maneuvering, attack, defend, attack again, with an hour of sleep a day that comes in fits and starts, … Continue reading The Mojave, January 1988 and Hamburgers, Macaroni Salad, and Vanilla Ice Cream at Senior Lunch Today, 2 poems by Bruce Pemberton

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