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
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.
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 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.
by Lynn Marie Houston
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 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 Quarterly, Ocean State Review, Word Riot, Squalorly, and many others.
by April Salzano
The neighborhood playground has been eaten,
oxidized and abandoned. What was
never a good neighborhood is now worse.
One swing and a crooked slide sit at the bottom
of a hill that used to seem steep. We made a game
of shoving our bicycles down riderless,
watching their front wheels turn, head southwest,
wobble, then crash, spokes spinning slower
as they lay on their sides, dead horses, defeated.
I was trying to kill mine so I could have a ten-speed.
That was the year my mom gave me her purple
sunglasses as a birthday present
because she couldn’t afford anything else. The glasses
folded up and fit into a small, circular zipper case.
My shock outweighed my gratitude and I am sorry
to say I did not hide it from her. I had already
been stealing her cigarettes, the long, brown
ones or the ultra thin white variety with flowers
on the filter. My sisters and I smoked, the youngest
only pretending to inhale. That year our mother
was a single parent. She knew poverty
was better than being beaten. There was nothing
she wanted then that she did not already have.
Recent two-time Puschart nominee, April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two sons. She recently finished her first collection of poetry and is working on a memoir on raising a child with autism. Her work has appeared in Poetry Salzburg, The Camel Saloon, Blue Stem, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle.