Darren Demaree, three prose poems

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Trump as a Fire without Light #172

I am unwilling to be the good man my wife says I am. I want to overreact. I am already wounded by Ohio. I am already memorizing the names of the dead. I am against this sickness, and my relatives want to argue about the name of the virus? Being still used to be radical. Prostration acts used to be my protesting act against the selfish tides of America, but now that they are hunting us, I can’t lower my head. I am not safe amidst my greatest love. Somebody keeps putting bullet casings on my back porch. The note says they will be aiming for the swollen heart tattoo on my left shoulder. Will they realize it’s the outline of our home once they see the skin pull back from the poem in the middle of it?


Trump as a Fire without Light #173

I don’t believe a soul can come out of nothing, and he has yet to show me anything more than a heaving meat-suit.


Trump as a Fire without Light #174

The village is quiet. The cities are on fire. The forests are almost gone. Once we can see each other from any distance, the world will swallow itself.


Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing). Darren is the managing editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children.


Kevin Shyne, “The Minuet before Good-bye”

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The Minuet before Good-bye

On Sunday afternoon
my daughter calls me back
while making lunches,
saving every penny
for treks she takes
to destinations off the grid.
Clinking in the background
is her butter knife, the clapper
in a bell of mayonnaise
nine hundred miles away.

Her voice, bejeweled
by her audacity,
rolls through me in a rising tide.
I stream like seaweed in her current.
Our catch-up conversation
crests on words
more said than understood.
You have her eyes…
the last time you were here…
the years go flying by.

On another day, her hand in mine,
our faces close,
her bucket full of shells,
she held one to my ear.
I said, “Hello, is this the ocean?”

But now she has to go.
Friends are waiting at the door.
She says goodbye,
not wanting me to hear
their rollicking commotion.
The phone held to my ear,
I strain to hear the ocean.


Kevin Shyne is a lifelong writer whose work once appeared frequently in corporate annual reports and employee newsletters. Turning to poetry in his retirement, Kevin has had poems published in The Lyric, Poetry Breakfast, Poetry Porch, and The Avocet. Kevin lives in a small town in the corn-and-soybean heart of the Midwest, where, along with a group of fellow poets, he helped organize the first-ever poetry event for the Prairie Arts Council in Princeton, Illinois.


Mike Ferguson, “Today’s Cul-de-Sac”

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Today’s Cul-de-Sac

It’s another secure cul-de-sac,
and a grown man cycles home on

his boy’s bike, a case of beer
under one arm, and it’s probably

football Sunday with all the cars
parked neatly in their drives and

men inside homes shouting and slapping
backs with their free hands

(the others dipping chips in sauce
or grasping ice-cold cans),

and it is family life becalmed because
everyone is happily in their place,

not feeling left out or under
attack, and therefore probably safe.


Mike Ferguson’s most recent collection of poetry is the sonnet chapbook Precarious Real (Maquette Press, 2016). A retired English teacher, he is an American resident in the UK and co-authored the education text Writing Workshops (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Natalie Crick, “The Moon-Silvered Grass”

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The Moon-Silvered Grass

I have carried this coldness like a diamond
For years.
Holding it near,
Close as blood.
Falling into this black silence.
It is deceptive, a mirror.

That night
Red and blue lights
Turned on the snowy fields,
The ragged trees behind, and
Mothers woke in the night,
Coming to that same question:
Like someone else’s bad dream.

The child vanishes from the store.
The girl with a full suitcase
Climbs into a truck on the highway.

And what they tell us is simple:
We disappear.


Natalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines, including Interpreters House, The Chiron Review, Rust and Moth, Ink in Thirds, and The Penwood Review. Her work is also featured or forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem “Sunday School” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.


Adam King, “Matinee”

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In the art theater we wait for images
to take us away from ourselves.
A seat between us says,
Stranger, we are not together.
The pews we have rented—
bought for feeling
apart from the man in the street
with none, woman on the bus
wearing a plastic bag.

An audience seeks fear, brutality, joy
not its own.
The projector throwing light
on what is most human—
trouble, out of its fist.
Projector, make us real to ourselves!
Change us, give us eyes,
help us bear the double fact:
We are more dead than we know.
We are each a live thing
waiting in the dark.


Adam King lives in Albuquerque, NM, and holds an MA in counseling. His poems have been published in Blue Mesa Review, St. Elizabeth Street, Seattle Review, and The Tongue. He is currently working on a screenplay based on the life of H.D.


Alexandra Haines-Stiles, “The Weight of Information”

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The Weight of Information

In clouds a wing is a solid thing,
metal among metaphor,
quiddity, not silvered threat.
Its bulk bears us up.

The man in the next seat lulls
with heat and flesh
though we’re immaterial, unbound
from earth, ungrounded.

He says:
I once read about
a plane that lost its wing
in a thundercloud.

Falling through air,
I’ve found my medium,
dosed with gravity,
tossed, mobile, untouched.
But the shape below, my shadow,

promises contact. The land
looms, rights itself.
I sleep on his shoulder,
apologize when I wake.

We wheel over the sea—
I tanned on those beaches,
I held your hand there, once—
this boxful of strangers

riding on air.


Alexandra Haines-Stiles is a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, where she studied twentieth-century literature and language as well as creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, Matter, Copper Nickel, The Mays Anthology, and elsewhere. She lives in New York and London.


Jim Zola, “The Celery Flats of Kalamazoo”

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The Celery Flats of Kalamazoo

Sometimes late at night, I’d stop my car
to listen, not sure what I expected
to hear. Maybe the whispering of stalks.
If it happened to be autumn,
everyone up and down Hoover Ave
smoldered piles of leaves by the curb.
I drove home half blind, through the war zone.
Homer spoke of it, selinon
to rally the urges, wreathe
the heroic. Now at night, I tell
the children how things will sprout
from their heads if they lie. I forget
how the story ends. After they fall
asleep, I sit on the porch and drink,
using the stalk to stir the blood.


Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook, The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press), and a full-length poetry collection, What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.