Carol Deering – 3 poems

TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC

A moth roiling witchy at the window
my mind whirling
the moon at 3 a.m. looming closer
hunchbacked, absorbed

                celestial navigation…

What gets this moth so keyed up,
to dance so noisily? show no mercy?
What winds me up a slope         

                angular relationships…

when I want to spin
from the sharp edge of thought
into lazy swells
of sleep?

🍃

REMINISCENCE

This jacquard-patterned river,
pulling up its socks, tripping,
scampering, leaping shadows,
plays with threads of light, running
tiptoe, allegretto con moto,
jaunty
with all its might.

The snow on the edge glows blue
and ponderous,
all the full moon
long…

🍃

IN THE  NIGHT FOREST

lost, returning late,
looking up through the understory,
up through the depths
of black water
to the fossils and the undead
stars

with friends at a jukebox
playing It’s a Beautiful Morning
at midnight
must get back
to camp

I can’t see
for the darkness,
sounds start and stop
invisibly, eyes
grip a sliver of stars
that curves as trees

let me by.

🍃

Carol L. Deering grew up in New England but has lived in Wyoming for 30 years. She has twice received the Wyoming Arts Council Poetry Fellowship (2016 and 1999). Last year she won the Wyoming Writers free-verse contest. Her poetry appears in online and traditional journals, and is forthcoming in Soundings Review and Written River. Carol also has poems in the regional anthology Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone Region. Once she had the privilege of interviewing Richard Hugo; that interview, published by Art Notes (Columbia Basin College), was reissued in CutBank.

Advertisements

Kraig Dafoe – 1 poem

THE RELUCTANT KANSAS GARDENER

It is time again to mow the weeds.
One can fool themselves into thinking
it’s grass, but upon closer inspection
the truth is revealed. Early spring brings
forth an abundance of dandelions,
their golden flower so brilliantly bright.
A vile weed, this picture of beauty
will choke what little grass grows in its
presence. I mow them down, the blade beheading
them and as the mower passes, some stand
ridged, their bodies refusing to fall.
I feel no remorse as the death of these
“flowers” takes place, for in a day or two
for everyone cut, ten more will begin
to take its place. The battle to rid them
from what I call lawn is pointless because
in a few weeks, they disappear again
for the rest of the season. When they go,
I will turn to the thistle, the crabgrass
and the ragweed. Each of these holds its own
beauty. Why do we fight to remove these
from our sight to be replaced with simple
green of grass? Can a single blade of grass
or the culmination of many stand
up to our desire? What have these weeds
really done? We don’t kill the Peony
for bringing ants. We do not kill the rose
for scratching our skin with its thorns as we
brush by. Why are we so damn quick to judge?
Can the sedum bring as much joy to us
as the dandelion? Can the rose moss
or St John’s Wort? Maybe, for some of us.
I suppose there will never be a place
in our hearts for the cute dandelion,
but I’m sure that will not deter them from
flashing their yellow smile to us each spring.

🍃

Kraig Dafoe is an English Major at Washburn University. His publications include two novels and poetry in various literary journals.

Padma Prasad – Fiction

PEGS

          The frozen laundry had hung in the snow for three days. When Martha finally went to get Fidel’s shirts, his pants, his underwear, it was already late evening, on the fourth. They were so stiff, those clothes.

           “I can’t take this no more,” Martha said to the large black cat that swirled to the garden door, with an anxious purr. The clothes on Martha’s arm crackled, her warmth renewed their emptiness. If the cat could talk, it would have agreed with Martha. It would have said, It’s not fair that Fidel leaves you out on this lonely lake front, that each time you rescue him, it’s worse than before.

           The first time Fidel left home, he was only thirteen. He was just recovering from typhoid. From where could he have got such a disease – it mystified Martha. She spent many hours and days honing in on one possible suspect after another, from colored people, to white people to travelers to water bottles and even to her own finger nails. Of course it was a meant to be thing. The high fever probably killed some portions of his mind. Otherwise how would his brain have gotten crazy.

           Fidel was just recovering when his father had slapped him stinging hard for breaking the apple tree, just ready to bloom with its first bloom. Fidel took off that evening. He turned up two years later, a fifteen year old man, lean and strong, his bones meant business.

           Martha opened the kitchen cupboard and looked in the bottom shelf. Her old gun was still there, still loaded. There were patches of grease and dirt on it. She carried it to the kitchen and took out a bottle of turpentine from under the sink. It must be what, fifteen, no, at least eighteen years ago that Wendell had bought it for her. To shoot the deer that were just everywhere. She had learned to use it very well, as if her hand and eye keyed into some pre-existing knowledge in her brain about how to be supremely accurate.

           The lid of the turpentine bottle came off in her hand and some of the turp spilled onto the counter top. Irritated with all this, Martha found a rag and wiped the counter top and started on the gun. She began to cough as if she would never stop.

           On some form he had to fill up, maybe it was the census form, Wendell had written they did not have any children.  She had coughed then at the unfairness of such a statement, at the unfairness of not letting her decide such matters. She went over one side of the gun meticulously, getting the grease out till it was spotless. Then she turned it over, stood back and surveyed it. She had always been hurt that her only contribution to the unfairness was silence. Some women might nag and argue, some may walk away, she listened to loneliness, as it gradually coated her husband’s brain until he died. Only because she was such a good listener she had never felt lonely herself.

           Martha went back to cleaning the gun. When she finished, she held it up against the kitchen window light to see if there was any place she had left out.  Until the babies stopped coming, she had shot two, sometimes three deer during the season. Even Wendell did not have such a wonderful record. One summer, when there was a mild hope that they had a future after all because Fidel was around the house, a normal Fidel who ate and slept and listened to music, she taught him to shoot as well. Martha smiled at how quickly Fidel picked up as if it was long ago born in him to shoot straight.

           That was before she had to bail him out two successive years for drugs and larceny.

           The gun felt reassuring in her hand. Especially now when Fidel had left with the money she had kept carefully over the years, about twenty three thousand dollars of it. Still, if they asked her to fill the census form now, she would not have written, no children.

           She carried the gun carefully to the back of the house. The backyard fence was badly broken. Once she had seen a fox wandering in. The oak looked naked, the snow made it even more gigantic than usual. The clothesline stretched from one of its branches all the way across to the elm. When she had brought in the clothes, she had left the pegs almost perfectly equidistant from each other. She stood for a long time in the cold, thinking that they were old pegs and maybe tomorrow, she would buy new ones.  Then, she took aim and shot every one of those wooden clothes pegs.

           The snow started to fall again when she went to check how she had done. Except for the last one, all the wooden pegs had been shattered. Still, she had nicked the last one. She shrugged, maybe a snow flake had got in the way. The gun was empty. Martha put it back in the cupboard and poured out some milk for the cat.

 🍃
Padma Prasad is a writer, painter and graphic artist. Her fiction has appeared in Eclectica, The Looseleaf Tea, Reading Hour, ETA Journal, and The Boiler Journal. She blogs her poem drawings at padhma.wordpress.com. Her art is mostly figurative and can be viewed at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/padma-prasad.html. In her writing, she tries to capture stillness; in her painting, she tries to paint narratives. She lives in Northern Virginia.

Pete Patterson – 2 poems

JE T’ADORE

Rhythms beating, hearts entwined.
Emotions giving flight.
The flutter of wings touching.
Twin feathers floating.

Gentle winds drifting.
Never to part.

Eyes wear scars, reflecting:
Blue hope twinkling:
Dreams of tomorrow bring rain:
Diamonds falling from trembling lips:

Gentle winds drifting.
Never to part.

One single kiss on her forehead:
One single touch of her hand:
One single glance of her eyes:
One single breath of her sharing:

Gentle winds drifting.
Never to part.

🍃

SHE SAID NO

She said:
Come see me in the springtime
The winters here are much too cold.
She wants to show me
All the places where she goes.
When I asked her
If I could fall in love with her
She said No.

So I look up into the sky
And I wonder the reasons why
I have a gypsy soul and a heart meant for leaving.
Has love passed me by, and I ask myself why
Can a man like me ever be able to change?

So I am waiting for warmer weather,
Wondering if she will ever,
Ask me to come see her again.
Should I call her, on the telephone?
Should I forget her, and continue on my way?

She said, come see me in the springtime,
The winters here are much too cold,
She wants to show me
All the places where she goes.
When I asked her
If I could fall in love with her
She said No.

I said:
If it is cold there in the winter
Could we spend some time together?
Will you let me hold you, and keep you warm?
She said no.

What can I say, what can I do?
There is no place for love to ever grow
We will always be friends, to the very end
But somewhere along the way, what we had
Was blown away in the winds that say no.

🍃

Pete Patterson

Charles Rammelkamp – 5 poems

I’VE LIVED TOO LONG

“Everybody congratulates me on being ninety-nine,”
Grandpa lamented. “But all it means is:
I’ve outlived all my friends;
all I have is ghosts and memories.

“Everybody I shared experiences with,
confidences, secrets – all  gone.
They may not have happened at all.
That old philosophical conundrum:
If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it,
did it make a sound?

“I used to assume how great it would be
to outlive your grandmother,
my brothers and my sister Sarah.
But now, there’s nobody.
The guys I grew up with,
the friends I made in college.

“And you know what?
It stinks.
Now all I’ve got are memories
nobody shares with me,
children and grandchildren
who regard me as something in a glass case.”

I didn’t know what to say.
The moment swelled like a blister,
the silence awkward.
At last I stammered,
“Well….happy birthday.”

Grandpa burst out laughing,
hiding his face behind his hands,
spindly fingers like bars in a cage.
Or was he crying?

🍃

CONTEST OF AFFECTIONS

Gian and Tony invited me
to the Nantucket Spaghetti Sauce Contest
held every August, attracting hundreds.
A beautiful summer day, plenty of beer,
commemorative tee-shirts,
and the spaghetti.

When I hit it off with a pretty young woman,
I wallowed in the luck that brought me there,
like a guardian angel guiding me.
Robin bubbled with vigor and quick wit,
pale blue eyes invited confidence;
the large crowd shrouded us in intimacy.
Already I could envision asking her for a date.

Late afternoon the contest began.
Mary Ann and Stewart had spent the day
preparing their secret sauces
like furtive alchemists concocting precious potions.
One was ladled over noodles on a green paper plate,
the other over pasta on red.

When I cast my vote for the red,
Robin looked at me as if I’d farted.
“It’s so tart,” she gasped, “so fruity.”

It turned out I’d picked Stewart’s sauce
while Robin had voted for her friend Mary Ann’s.
Had she known all along whose was whose,
voted for the person and not the sauce?

And then suddenly it was as if
we were members of a Civil War family,
separated by conflicting loyalties to blue or gray,
Republicans and Democrats still fighting
over the election between Bush and Gore.

Her last words,
when the party was over,
and we said our goodbyes
felt like a cool limp handshake.
“Maybe I’ll see you around.”

🍃

NUMBER NINE DREAM

My panic holds a knife at my throat.
Why did I drive into that snowbank?
I didn’t have to.
Can I somehow take it back?
The car flipped onto its back
like a frantic insect
waving its legs in futile alarm.

I ask an attendant for help –
he’s wearing a uniform,
but I’m not sure what he does –
gesturing back to my cart.
I see it’s rightside up now,
but there’s a huge dent in the roof.

I can’t find the keys,
hands rooting through pockets like burrowing animals.
Did I lose the key when the car flipped,
when I was upside down,
pinned like a prisoner by my seatbelt?

But now I’ve found my key;
it’s my wallet I can’t locate,
with the driver’s license.
But why do I need my license?
Now I can’t find the cell phone.

The attendant still hasn’t noticed me.
Maybe he doesn’t care.

Sanity comes in like a cop
flashing his badge.
What a relief to wake up.
Anxiety dreams are the worst.

🍃

A WHOLE NOTHER EXPERIENCE

As if having sex, regular and often,
weren’t already a new, unfamiliar sensation –
against the gymnasium wall at midnight,
in the stairwell of Josie’s dorm,
in the seats of the movie theater,
she in my lap as we both faced the screen,
under the elm trees on the quad,
in beds, cars, parks, swimming pools –
when my girlfriend invited me to spend
the Thanksgiving holiday with her family
in rural North Dakota, she warned:
“It’ll be a whole nother experience.”

A girlfriend!  Never before going to college
had I paired off in such intimacy
with another person, sharing secrets, plans,
enjoying the sheer physical reality of it.
Always it had been a hunt, a furtive one-night deal,
an oasis in the desert, as if not even making eye contact,
but when I met Josie at a mixer the start of sophomore year –
coup de foudre! Love at first sight! –
we were inseparable as two chemicals
swirled together in a beaker in a lab.

So we go to her parents’,
an hour and a half flight from Chicago to Bismarck,
her dad picking us up at the airport.

“Your mother’s going to die when she sees
the guy who’s sticking his cock in your mouth,”
Dale commented out of the corner of his mouth
to his daughter in the backseat
as we drove west on 94 toward Killdeer,
as if I weren’t even there.

“Oh, Daddy!”

Did he just say what I think he said?
I expect an explosion, war to break out,
tears, shouting, recriminations, violence,
but when that doesn’t happen,
just the car scrolling west into the fading sun,
all at once I wonder:
Why will she die?

🍃

IMAGINE

An Apache headband hugging his forehead,
holding his blond hair out of his face,
a black-ink Ché stenciled on his red tee-shirt,
Cushing sucked a joint
while Lennon on the turntable sang
“Imagine all the people
living life in peace.”

“You may saaay that I’m a dreamer,”
Cushing sang along, passing the joint to Adams.
He’d just taken a twenty
from his roommate’s desk drawer,
Sedgewick out on a date with a sorority girl.

“Maybe you should put it back,” Adams cautioned,
appealing to Cushing’s pragmatic sense.
“He’s obviously going to think
you took it.
Or me.”

“He’s a pig,” Cushing dismissed the warning.
“He’s out right now with Suzy Creamcheese.”
Cushing imagined he was striking a blow.
For the people.

🍃

Charles Rammelkamp edits The Potomac, an online literary magazine – The Potomac — A Journal of Poetry & Politics He is Prose editor for BrickHouse books in Baltimore, where he lives. His latest book is a collection of poems called MATA HARI: EYE OF THE DAY (Apprentice House, Loyola University) and another book, AMERICAN ZEITGEIST, has been accepted by Apprentice House as well.