Windows down, wild blackberry dusk:
we’re driving the twisting narrow roads,
approaching the brink of invisibility.
Around these parts, everyone’s mama said
to honk before those blind curves—nothing rude,
don’t smash it like you’re throwing a punch,
just a little beep to say you’re there—but
no one does. We careen over, dreamlike.
We rely on the truck’s tight suspension
and our reaction time, our sly affinity
for survival, like barn cats,
like the houses nestled in the hollows
where the satellites go dead, like the ladybugs
that invade the farmhouse every fall,
nesting in windowsills and burrowing
into pillowcases, swarming the pantry
so the Wonder Bread tastes
like a windshield—and you know
you should squish them, like your mama said,
but this is their home now and besides,
they don’t mean anybody any harm.
Emmaline Silverman is a Maryland native who helps build academic databases for a living. In addition to writing, she enjoys origami and her ukulele. Her work has recently appeared in Tower Journal, Gloom Cupboard, Red River Review, and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.
My Father’s Path
We walk the lengthy beach in Gordon’s Bay
dwelling on our reasons to be wandering
here, this time of year, in winter’s shawl
along the Indian Ocean shore.
The mountains loom behind us
keeping watch as when my father
walked these paths in days long gone. I trace
his footsteps on the strand, his carefree bike
descending to the vale. We stop to study
shells of varied hues, deftly carving patterns
as they move in sand that stretches softly,
whitely on, their history scrawled in slow,
illegible song. I kneel to peer, to unravel
the contoured fable of one life, illumined
by its whorls. The periwinkle scurries
to a hole in weakened, winter sun.
Now, as I pass handpicked cowries
and cones resting in a basket in the hall,
I see my father hiking in the hills,
collecting shells left stranded
by the spray. I catch a whiff
of salty, fishy scent, crisp air—
a trace of childhood
Denise Segal Umans grew up in South Africa and now lives in the Boston area. As a speech-language therapist and linguist, she has worked for over 30 years in language and literacy development and as a teacher of English as a second language. She has published and co-published articles in professional journals as well as general-interest magazines. Her poetry has been published in Clementine Poetry Journal, Poetry Quarterly, and The Avocet: a Journal of Nature Poetry.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
To go for glory is to court the pain,
The shame, the never-ending toil and all
The years of heartbreak when a modest gain
Occasions further disappointment. Lost
In the hard-edged struggle is not the call
To duty or even faith, but a sense
Of fairness and proportion: damn the cost
To those who overpaid by half or more
Without a nickel’s worth of recompense,
And hand it to the lucky few who made
The grade with very little effort—sore
Losers need not apply. Yet Heaven knows,
This glory’s flimsy, prone to sudden fade
Like winter sunsets and the desert rose.
C. B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Some of his poems have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Galway Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Anglican Theological Review. His book of poetry, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder, was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.
Girl before a Mirror
Her nose begins
to be out of joint.
He’s called her beauty,
but made a mock of symmetry—
the parting of the veil
a duple screen
like two trains running
from the Gare Saint-Lazare
both east and west;
in the background
red patterns of migraine,
and the bright moon mask
of the saltimbanques.
Mouth kisses firm mouth,
the painted and the obscure,
profile and full face of desire.
The canvas sings
of the viscera,
sacred heifer to his bull.
In a jar beside the commode
steep tears of brine.
Should not think, but be.
Light falls away
like chaff from wheat.
Regret for the crust,
the bowl of cabbage soup;
he will drink absinthe
while her stomach growls.
The floor is littered
with splotches of pique
in the cold light from the lunette.
She will pick up the jagged waste
of herself, clean the brushes
and just for a moment,
think about death.
When he leans from the window
commanding his shard of street,
girl in the mirror
studies with sweet chagrin
the purple specter
poised to make her blush.
What does that lidless eye perceive?
She mustn’t look too hard.
Mademoiselle won’t find it there
and even if she does,
it will not be there at dawn.
Girl Before a Mirror by Pablo Picasso
About Marie-Thérèse Walter
Carol Alexander’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. Her most recent work appears in The New Verse News, Split Rock Review, Clementine Poetry Journal, and Caesura. Alexander’s chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, was published by Flutter Press (2013).
How to Talk to Your Mother
Ignore her. Say something smart. Shut your mouth. Turn your face to the wall. Be always in a different room when you cry. Ignore her questions. Clip your sentences bare. Allow her a goodbye when you leave. Wave from the car as she stands on the porch and then look ahead into traffic, opening your mouth to mumble-shout lyrics you can’t understand. Call your mother so she knows you’re alive. Call your mother and say uh-huh so she knows you’re there. Lie down on the bed with the phone. Fall asleep. Call your mother. Say uh-huh, uh-huh. Lie down on the bed and cry, a different room after. Ignore the impulse to call your mother. Prepare to talk to your mother. Clip out bits of your life. Call your mother. Uh-huh. Fall asleep and pretend you didn’t. Allow her a hello when you arrive. Tolerate her questions. Say something smart and regret it. Turn your face. Turn on the radio in the car. Wave. Call your mother so she knows you’re alive and in bed. Ignore the words you can’t clip bare. These words turn their faces to the wall. Call. Call your mother when dinner is about ready. Call your mother from work and say, I’m at work. Call your mother from your bed, poised to sleep or to cry. Ignore her as she talks. Ignore the impulse to question your mother. Call her. Waver. Ignore her as long as you can. Uh-huh. Call your mother so you know she’s alive.
Jennifer Gravley makes her way in Columbia, Missouri. She is a writer of sentences and a watcher of bad television. Her work has recently appeared in Sweet, Rat’s Ass Review, and Bayou Magazine, among others.
Where did the morning go? The morning
went where it was supposed to, a child
obediently lining up in the schoolyard,
a car nosing into changed lane patterns,
falling water coursing down a hillside,
over stone, bony outcroppings, rich soil
inscribed by its vein of icy brilliance.
Writing to a friend, I tell her I keep circling
around and around death, my husband’s,
mine, stopping, resting, temporarily landing
in different places. Like the leaf I see today
in the yard, a single yellow leaf, floating
down like a parachute from high in one
treetop, a comma of a leaf, a comment.
In the three years and three months of
my grandchildren’s lives, time has created
two consciousnesses, two new worlds.
Still, the being each child was a year ago
is already lost, vanished. Ruthless and
slaying, time destroys these children,
recreates them, tender and growing.
Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, (Word Press) appeared in May 2011. Earlier collections are The Country of Women (Calyx, 1995) and The Ceremonies of Longing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003). Her poems have appeared recently in Beloit Poetry Journal, Notre Dame Review, Damfino, and Clementine Poetry Journal.
If I could live the life I always dreamed,
How different would it be?
If I could change the way things seem,
How much more would I be me?
If you could roll your desires into one,
Piss on them with a water gun,
Flush them forever down the loo…
What then would you do?
If we could live without fear, more truly,
Not at arm’s length, shaking hands coolly,
Not Eves and Abels or jailers of humans,
Like Leighs and Gables or Taylors and Newmans.
If you could relinquish self and ego,
Would you step out of your own way?
Or sit at home watching Finding Nemo—
(Watch it, actually. It beats the ballet.)
If I could avoid this traffic jam,
Would you be reading the words here writ?
Even Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham
Mightn’t exist without the shit.
For I have seen despair, disgrace,
Stepped out of the dark, looked Hate in the face;
It wasn’t some gross, disfigured elf.
Come close, I’ll tell you: it was my self.
Oliver Hutton’s previous publications are two poems: “The Plant Whisperer” in Clementine Poetry Journal (October 2015), and “Re: Spectre” in Clementine Unbound (January 2016).