All posts by Lisa Hase-Jackson

It’s Not Just the Cat

by Jessica Barksdale

Fall 2013

You find yourself lost in a city block, the same streets
where you ate hamburgers with your teenaged boys,
the greasy taste still on your tongue,
their boy teases, their young laughter in your ear.
And then you are idling at a stoplight in another city, in another block,
and you are pushing a second-hand stroller
up toward the grocery store to buy the food
you can barely afford.
Then you are speeding
in your 1972 Volkswagen squareback, the window open,
you laughing against the rush of air,
your friend speeding alongside
you in her Datsun, both on your way to the college
you will later flunk out of but now teach at,
the same road you drive on now,
window closed.
Here you are again, an unhappy,
married woman nearing middle age,
staring up at the Eiffel tower, not wondering how it was constructed,
but how you will leave your marriage.
The circles push you out and away,
pull you back,
you on a bench on the first platform,
Paris spread out like a picnic blanket,
a new husband beside you.


Jessica Barksdale is the author of twelve novels, including Her Daughter’s Eyes and The Instant When Everything Is Perfect. Her stories, poems, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Mason’s Road, The Coachella Review, So to Speak, and Salt Hill Journal. She is a professor of English at Diablo Valley College and teaches online novel writing for UCLA Extension.

Remnants

by Holly Day

Summer 2019

The snail shell lies on its side on the ground
empty save for a few dried curls of flesh, the weight
of something solid somewhere deep inside.

I place it in the middle of my palm, feel that sad, solid weight
what’s left of a snail tricked out of the shadows
by afternoon thunderstorms and cool, summer nights.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy (Alien Buddha Press).

Equinox

by Jim Minick

Spring 2012

Again, I miss it,
the calendar sliding by,
yesterday a million years old,
today too late

so that equinox becomes
equidrops-equiknocks-equipox,
the equation   un   balanced,
equal sign tilted askew.

Meanwhile, the sun and stars
scroll across the sky in a language
we have forgotten, a dialect
embedded in our bodies.

Jim Minick is the author of The Blueberry Years, a memoir about one of the mid-Atlantic’s first pick-your-own, certified-organic blueberry farms, and winner of the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from Southern Independent Booksellers Association. Minick is also the author of two books of poetry, Her Secret Song and Burning Heaven, a collection of essays, Finding a Clear Path, and editor of All There Is to Keep by Rita Riddle. Minick has won grants, awards, and honors from many organizations including the Southern Environmental Law Center, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and Radford University, where he teaches writing and literature. His work has appeared in many publications including Shenandoah, Orion, San Francisco Chronicle, Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Conversations with Wendell Berry, The Sun, and Wind. Recently, his poem “I Dream a Bean” was picked by Claudia Emerson for permanent display at the new Tysons Corner/Metrorail Station. He lives in the mountains of Virginia with his wife and three dogs.

The Smell of Heights

by Katarina Boudreaux

His eyes closed,
feet on automatic,
he lifted the child
and held him,
humming softly
a tune he heard
once in Rio
when he had
watched the sun
rise religiously
before the belly
came, the circles,
and now the ten
of fingers and toes
to trap him sweetly,
bitterly, late nights.

Katarina BoudreauxKatarina Boudreaux is a New Orleans based author, musician, dancer, and teacher. Her first novel, Platform Dwellers, is available from Owl Hollow Press. Alexithymia is available from Finishing Line Press and Anatomy Lessons from Flutter Press.

In the Beginning

by Susan Ludvigson

Fall 2019

Could it have been the very day we met?
It was, walking a long path through
the woods until the sun was down
and we talking, talking, words pushing
against each other softly, like nudges,
until it was wholly dark, long past
supper, past bedtime, before
you told me things I didn’t know how
to hear, before the shocks of your war
began to shade into horror.  But that day
turned night we made our way to a pool.
Shedding clothes in the dark,
as we entered, the elements
seemed to collude, water became
the warmth of air, and when
we became a single body,

it was what the diver I read today
described–ocean as vast as outer space.
The coral reefs he clung to might have been
ledges on planets, as close as he could come
to drifting among the stars, the way light
moved and flashed, and bright-hued fish,
plants swaying iridescent into his vision,
a kind of brilliance he hadn’t known
in any other realm.

Susan Ludvigson has published eight collections with LSU Press, received Guggenheim, Fulbright, NEA, and Rockefeller fellowships, and has published in Poetry, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Ohio Review, Atlantic Monthly, and others.  Wave As If You Can See Me, her new collection, comes out from Red Hen Press in Fall 2020.

Driving to the Blackberry Valley Transfer Station on Inauguration Day

Greenville, South Carolina, January 20, 2009

by Gilbert Allen

Maybe a seven-minute ride. Turns out
a lot of us white guys are here today,
pickups mostly, stuck with American flags
like Band-Aids over bumpers, back windows,
in honor of the history behind us.

Hauling two months of litter and beer bottles
from my blue luxury sedan, I must
appear to be a lost investment banker
hiding the bender he’s still getting over.
The guy beneath the HERITAGE NOT HATE
cap smiles. “Looks like you had yourself a time.”

He smells like he’s biodegradable.
I toss Buds into the dumpster, one by one,
so he’ll gimp off before my box is empty.

It works. It’s only me, as I repop
my trunk, and drag bag to the garbage bays
to fortify the artificial hill.
Mission Accomplished. Although I’ll be back,
sooner or later, with another load
of crap my cat and I want to be rid of,
filling what cavities our land still holds.

Gilbert Allen lives in Travelers Rest, SC, from where he frequently proceeds south (and north) on I-85. He’s the author of five collections of poems, including Driving to Distraction (Orchises, 2003), which was featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily. Since 1977 he’s taught at Furman University, where he’s currently the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature.blog

High Noon at the Hopi Gas Station

John Nizalowski

Spring/Summer 2018

Reservation dogs
of uncertain breed
sleep in the gas
station parking lot.
A stiff hot wind
blows empty packs
of Camels, Hershey
bar wrappers, and
an empty Coors can
across the rippling tar.
Low, flat-bottomed
cumulous clouds rest
on the sky’s glass pane,
reflecting the red sands
of the desert below.

To the south, ancient
stone cities stand atop
narrow bluffs and solid
mesas. Old priests with
parrot feather staffs
celebrate deep, dusty
time in secret kivas.
Every day is a god,
each star a prayer.

While here at the station,
the register dials up the
cost in digital numbers –
99 cent Coke, three
dollars in corn chips,
and twenty-five in
gasoline – the smell
of colonial commerce.

 

John NizalowskiJohn Nizalowski is the author of four books: the multi-genre work Hooking the Sun; two poetry collections, The Last Matinée and East of Kayenta; and Land of Cinnamon Sun, a volume of essays. Nizalowski has also published widely in literary journals, most notably Under the Sun, Weber Studies, Puerto del Sol, Slab, Measure, Digital Americana, and Blue Mesa Review. Currently, he teaches creative writing, composition, and mythology at Colorado Mesa University.

Before the Sting

by Lynn Marie Houston

Winter 2016

The postman leaves a cage of babies,
angry ones who rattle, buzz, and hum,

babies who are hungry, who kick segmented legs
through the open spaces in a metal screen.

I feed them generous blasts of sweetwater
from a spray bottle, I mother them. I shake them

out of a hole in the shipping box and into
the hive I’ve made. Within weeks,

the foragers are already teenagers
wearing orange, pink, and white

from the yard’s blooms. As I lean in close
to watch them leave the hive and return with

nectar and pollen, one of them passes too close,
entangles herself in my hair. I feel her wings

against my scalp, legs tugging fine strands,
the painful knot of us—mother and child.


Lynn Marie Houston PoetLynn Marie Houston
holds a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. Her first collection of poetry, The Clever Dream of Man (Aldrich Press 2015), won the 2016 Connecticut Press Club prize for creative work and went on to take 2nd place in the nationwide competition sponsored by the National Federation of Press Women. Poems and essays by her have appeared in journals such as Painted Bride QuarterlyOcean State ReviewWord RiotSqualorly, and many others.

Lady Akuaro

by Garuda Love

I am river flesh and willow-bone
undulating along the banks of the Chattahoochee
whose mud waters and iron scent
cleave to my skin. My tears salt
the mud, pebbles and clay
river weeds, and moccasin’s nests. I am a tangle
of weed and snake. My venom, a sweet drip.
Honey-thighed, I float, like a lotus.

The men, they come to me.
From the cobbled brick streets
they come, the soldiers, whose musky lips
suck embers from cigarettes, and clamp the rims
of shot-glasses filled with honey-whiskey and gin.
In red-eyed rooms, they roll their muscled tongues
around shouts and groans. The young girls dance
and whisper dead promises into their vacant ears.
In their voices, I float, like a lotus.

The men, they come. After “last call,” after the exchange
of coin and flesh, some young warrior
or battle-weary corpse, strays
from the blood-brick streets, he ambles
through bracken, moss-skinned branches weeping
quail feathers onto his head. Guided by rumor
or jasmine and camphor simmering

Garuda LoveGaruda Love is completing her BFA at Goddard College. Her writing has appeared in Recovery Today Magazine. She is working with Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro on a screenplay adaptation of his autobiography, Dreadnaught: King of Afro-Punk. Raised in rural Alabama, Garuda now lives in Los Angeles.

Witness

by Kevin Carey

It’s the first warm
day of spring
and I feel like the world
is waking around me.
I stop raking
and watch the fat kid on his bike
toss a newspaper to the driveway
and the guy next door waves
to a pick up truck speeding by,
loud rock and roll evaporating
down the block,
and I hear a faint scream
from a slightly open window
and there’s garlic cooking somewhere
and tires rolling on
the highway beyond,
one set after another,
and there’s a kid I once knew
bouncing a basketball
on the playground,
he is five feet tall
with an un-tucked Celtics jersey
over his shorts to his knees,
he is standing at half court
looking toward the tilted half-moon backboard
yelling over and over again,
“can I get a witness.”

Kevin CareyKevin Carey teaches in the English Department at Salem State University. He has published two books – a chapbook of fiction, The Beach People, from Red Bird Chapbooks (2014) and a book of poetry, The One Fifteen to Penn Station, from Cavankerry Press, N.J. (2012). He co-directed and produced a 2013 documentary film about New Jersey poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan called All That Lies Between Us and is currently working on a documentary about Salem poet Malcom Miller. A new collection of poems, Jesus Was a Homeboy, (also from Cavan Kerry Press) is due out in the fall of 2016. Kevincareywriter.com