Poems Fall 2022

Spurlock – by Jessica Bentley

I spy glimpses of your silver strands,
as you lay white linens on the sloped lawn,
billowed sails in the breeze,
as shuck beans dry for Sunday supper.
The vegetables canned from the year before,
are marched out in proud succession.
The dirt cellar had done its work.
You stroll down the lavender lined path to the main house.
You swept that path yourself and sweep it still,
after breakfast of the latest kill and brown eggs,
you gathered up in your flour dusted apron.
After the morning dishes you step off the slanted gray porch.
The sunrise strains to peek up over the rising cedars.
You take in the burnt sienna as you brush away the earth,
with the hemp broom he weaved for you.
His blue eyes gleam,
hands tremoring from years of the plow.
He rocks as the oak cradles his stooped frame,
a cherry pipe in his teeth,
taking in the fog as the dawn burns it from the holler.

RECREATION / by Marta Dorton

husband likes to fish
packs simple gear
plastic container of meal worms reel
knife   nylon rope    tools of immediate
work    tools of hope

husband drives to solitude
occasional great blue
heron    water rolls over rocks
casts his line into the deeps
to see what may return
waits for bobber to dip below
jump to surface    then under
quick yank of filament    fish resists
slow steady pull    the eventual
drag into air and light

husband fishes for relief
appointments with family doctors
and pain management centers    shares
his history of back pain and heavy
work    doctors nod    scribble their plan
onto pastel green prescription
pads    meds soon acquired     he ingests
before driving away     in a bit    balm
arrives but never
lasts long enough

husband fishes for reprieve
at friends with extra
pills    and those that sell
their parents supply

i fish for husband
leave son at home    drive
to known suppliers    look
for his truck
mad if i find
it    mad if not
reel in empty hook
barb slices deep

Navigation – Marta Dorton

while loved ones are still
here    to retrieve me if i can’t
make it back    i must do this    i walk
alone    down the front steps    click open

my car door    i sit    scoot seat back    tilt
steering wheel    adjust left mirror
right mirror    rearview too    shift into
reverse    down to the street

has it only been four days    i stop    look
up the road    and back    right    left    behind
back into the street    auburn leaves shower
me as i drive away    people walk dogs

mow lawns    scurry with errands    i glare
at them    are they not crushed to dust    too
drive slow    check every inch of this nine
minute trip    gratitude for guidance

of drivers ahead who obey proper speed
position of lanes    yellow lights
make familiar turns    return half-read
library books    unwatched shawshank

redemption    drive to post office    push
bills into blue horizontal slot    head home
with heavy sigh    walk up my concrete steps
my singlehood begins    maybe i can do this

Girl in the River by A. Riel Regan

The trees whistle as the wind
rips through them
and barren branches stand vigil
for brothers taken by the water.
Her hand extends into the tadpole kingdom,
disturbing clouds of river muck
and they accept her.
Auburn hair and floral Easter dress billow in the steady water.
She floats.
Gray clouds roll across the sky, reflecting on river mirror.
Girl rests in peace.
Flood has come and gone.

To make a bird, not a cage – Manny Grimaldi

To make a bird, not a cage

I fail to have fun regularly, so

I work looking backwards, so

I know nothing of flying, so


Let us pray

There are instructions none the simpler than these:

1) attend to festivity, gather turkey feathers, glue a baby ostrich to my rear, paint the Mona
with a full length beard

2) render with blue ink from a well (never
pencil) and tissue parchment (never paper),
compose in the rain

3) blindfold in windstorms, paddle in ponds,
catch breathless fish with my mouth and
throw them back in

4) eschew constitutions, declarations,
solemnity, and panic. walk into turbines.
make love to disagreement

Sit on a branch, may it blossom.
Peel the fruit, let it not bruise. Amen.

Concerning the day my wife and children left me – Manny Grimaldi

He scribbles his fantastic symphony, a fresh sight of light-spinning
sunflowers fluttering through a guillotine—a woman’s hands wringing
at the scene, the disheveled man on his lonesome knees—and running

the fields, as pack horses don blinders to pass over tracks made
for the new carnival way, his memory sweetens on jeweled Indian
elephants there, and the scent of spun cotton candy, and so, anesthetized,

his neck drops, desirous of rainbow-promises of a sudden stay
of execution, hands tied back in a bow—
the painting: a dead man stretched on a scaffold in the heat.


– David Earl Williams

And there was that once
I was 6 years old
I threw my sisters stuffed dog in the inflatable pool
Which made her cry real tears and scream for blood
And I ran around the outside of the house so fast
I turned into the Marquis de Sade in the Bastille writing porno
away up high
N my mommy come out w/ her switch n sed,
Derwood D’Woody, jr….
“The completest submissiveness is your lot,
and that is all”….
And I answered her, I said,
” Either kill me or take me as I am,
because I’ll be damned if I ever change!”
And my sister began crying tears of hope
to match her tears of grief
And the switch swished through the air
swish swish swish on my bare back n legs
as the dear sister howled for her justifiable revenge
And the blood flowed
and the welts were raised across my back and ribs and legs
n I danced
O, I dance dance danced in a circle
she had me by the arm
n I could not escape —
For, “Destruction, hence, like creation,
is one of Nature’s mandates.”
but, I did learn n
I was never to run
from love ever again
when I was in that house.
nor did I ever

write porno in the Bastille
while there nor
take a blow
unless repaid, in some way, for, as you know,
“Nature has endowed each of us with a capacity for kindly feelings:
let us not squander them on others.”
N —That!
is how
The West Was Won —!
(…Or, at least,
that’s what I say
when I’m Kathy Acker
n they say it is BLOOD
it is all blood blood blood—
blood is everything—
my face in the mirror
my tribe, my role …
and Kathy Acker whispers in my ear.)

Ascension – John Muro

A winter day near-done
and the fire draws me in
like a hurried breath,
and I’m soon spiraling
up and through a flue
narrowed by creosote
towards a sky of wax-
wing gray, gliding past
the roofline and a land-
scape of glazed boughs
and jeweled undergrowth
then entwined with wisps
of snow silently advancing
across a frozen brook before
wind gusts cradle and carry
me further from ground with
no hope of finding my way
back to the spark that birthed
combustion – destined to
expire in the earth-shine
splatter that sits between
a radiant horizon and a dark
and desolate heaven.

Waiting – Katie Hughbanks

In a parking space
at the nursing home
I sit in the driver’s seat
waiting for the hospice lady
to come and meet me,
permit me to
sign away my mother’s future,
for comfort care.
I sit and stare
at the cars speeding past
then notice the sting
a tiny zing
from a paper cut
on my hand
sliced thinly while retrieving
Mother’s POA forms,
the skin still bleeding
A February afternoon of
rare winter sun squints,
making my eyes,
so much like my mother’s,
Will she call soon?
Is it time?
I guess I’m fine,
but it sure feels like
this waiting
is going to kill me.

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