Oliver Hutton, “The Bower”

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The Bower

Three men in different parts of the world.

One, in a leafy shelter, kept bending forward at the hip.
The second, in a boudoir in a castle, played a violin.
The third, in a cottage, held an anchor.

None knew each other, but all thought the same:
“What on earth are we doing?!”

 


Oliver Hutton’s previous publications are three poems: “The Plant Whisperer” in Clementine Poetry Journal (October 2015), and “Re: Spectre” (January 2016) and “If” (April 2016) in Clementine Unbound.


 

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Julia C. Alter, “Nothing Smaller”

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Nothing Smaller

When your mom has colon cancer, you become
a student of anatomy. You stare at a picture
of the large intestine until it becomes a sausage, a scarf,
of course a serpent, a harp, a heart, a home
to hide the shit you can’t digest yet. You try
to teach yourself to pray. Palm to palm, you play along.
You put your cheek up to every tree you encounter,
learning that’s where God is. You forget, and turn on the TV.
You turn off the TV, then turn on the TV.
You vomit thirty times in twelve hours. You go to the hospital
and get hooked up to IV fluids, praying your body
becomes nothing more than salt water. Your skin becomes
a bag of ocean, and still you do not cry.

You feel better in her hospital room than walking a city street because when you’re walking you’re not with her. You become a jittered ghost. You float from seeing a hole in her body to trying to order a coffee. You forget the words. You forget any words that aren’t colostomy, drainage site, complication, and surgery. You turn around and go back to the hospital without a coffee, feeling nothing. You learn it is possible to feel nothing, to be a bowl of eyes scrunched shut.

You sleep in room 1302 every night in her white nightgown,
which was her mother’s nightgown. One night
you watch her belly inflate into a grotesque melon. Five doctors
try to understand why it is so distended. You understand
pain that even morphine can’t fix, her jaw going slack,
big teeth creeping forward, morphing into her mother. An animal,
an angel. You remember that you watched your grandmother
die in Austria. You held her hand. You remember you are Austrian.

Your ancestors visit you and your sister one night when she’s delirious from pain. Heavy farm women, saggy arms and ragged aprons. Magic only known from deep forests just beyond the barn. Women who have witnessed cows and sheep and horses passing from one world to the next on straw floors under unimaginable stars, never anything like this. For the first time in your bones, you’re not alone. You thought guardian angels came with a shower of light and a subtle field of safety. You learn they come with a growling moan in your pelvis and a sudden craving for spaetzle.

She says, We’re eating in a restaurant on top of the world. You wonder
if she’ll ever eat again. You lock yourself in the bathroom
every hour to scream in utter silence. You eat a whole cake
even though you’re gluten free. Everything goes out the window.
The windows are glued shut. You watch her put on lipstick with a tube
coming out of her behind. You close your eyes
and the tube is not hard plastic with a sludge of guttural gunk,
but a strong, sleek tail that twitches and wags, that tells the world
she’s alive and kicking, that shines. You watch her leap out of the window,
scrapping and skipping her way across the city, across the sea,
through a field of lily-of-the-valley. So alive she becomes
the light itself, the sun and nothing smaller.

 


Julia C. Alter hails from Philadelphia and has found home in Vermont. She is a writer, birth doula, social worker, and conscious-dance facilitator, among other things. Her poems have been published in Wag’s Revue and Keep This Bag Away from Children.


 

Eliot Wilson, “Carrying Suki”

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Carrying Suki

She’s missing. I find her curled up like a towel
by the dryer in the laundry room
and she cannot walk.

I have to carry her back
and want it winter,
the snow canceling everything,

but spring it is, and the apple trees
where she’d climb and hunt
are an appalling green.

I hold her up to me
with her head pressed to the side of my throat.
To comfort her I try to sing.

And I am that which does not sing,
but then those same gods that bring us
to the graves of cherished things

take pity on me or seem to take pity
and make my throat a low bassoon,
a grafting of air and hollowness.

To this low humming, all of us move.

I run my hands over her,
her betraying blood, her little bones.

 


Eliot Wilson has published two books of poems and won two NEA fellowships, and he has two chickens—Opal and Iris. He lives in Golden, Colorado.


 

CLS Ferguson, “12721 Stone Canyon Road”

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12721 Stone Canyon Road

Home in the beginning was
Sunshine on grass greener than the other side
Mushrooms, apples, nectarine, bamboo, and pine
Road too narrow for more than one car at a time

Home in the beginning was
More a comfort than a palindrome
More a home than a war zone
More breath than suffocation

Home in the beginning was
A beacon on a hill reaching toward heaven
Overlooking an undeveloped “City in the Country”
Poway’s gem, refuge, calm

Home in the beginning was
Where the animals and children played until twilight
Safe, predictable, forever
Until Dad decided it was his, remodeled it, and sold it to someone else

Home in the beginning was
Where I was meant to be
Where I was always already leaving
Where I never wanted to forever wish to return

 


CLS Ferguson, PhD, speaks, signs, acts, publishes, sings, performs, writes, paints, teaches, and rarely relaxes. Her music video, “Secrets & Lies,” is currently earning accolades on the indie-film circuit. CLS has published poetry in Shangri-La Shack, Still Points Quarterly, P. Q. Leer, and other places. Her poetry collection, God Bless Paul, is from Rosedog Books. She and her husband, Rich Ferguson, are raising their Bernese Mountain/border collie mutt, Sadie, in Hollywood, CA. More info here.


 

Sharon Scholl, “EAT SPACE”

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EAT SPACE

She shouted over the thump
of a grand piano
at our tentative pas de chats.

TRUST THE AIR she trumpeted
as teens peeled off into grand
jetés, her arms motioning us
upward toward unseen stars.

Sometimes the dreaded ELEPHANTS
ELEPHANTS, hands upraised
in mock horror. Her tinkling chandelier
doomed us to a dozen grand pliés
without a stabilizing barre.

Miss Ruth’s regime, a ballerina
boot camp, shaped body, will,
aesthetics. Those who survived
acquired a certain swaggering mastery.

Sixty years later, I look
in a full-length mirror and see,
through every seam of bone and sinew,
what she made of me.

 


Sharon Scholl is a professor emerita from Jacksonville University, Florida, where she taught humanities and non-Western studies. Her chapbook,
Summer’s Child, is new in 2016 from Finishing Line Press. She has individual poems currently in Adanna, Caesura, and Sin Frontera. A composer, she maintains a website that gives away free music to small choirs.


 

Pam Burr Smith, “Yellow”

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Yellow

Later the day the sun liquid gold
leaves papery huge falling buttery raindrops

The trees at every visible level   yellow
the color of lilies in Spring.

Yellow   the carpeted rustling path
The birch trees mountains of yellow

yellow finally the only thing.
Descending the path swallowed by yellow

I walked down into the color itself
fearless
like entering delicious and wanted into a lake.

 


Pam Burr Smith won Honorable Mention in the Maine Poetry Chapbook Competition judged by Mary Oliver in 1993. She has published short stories, essays, articles, and poems in journals and has one poetry book, Heaven Jumping Woman (Moon Pie Press, 2011). Her poetry has been anthologized in Take Heart (DownEast Books, 2013). She is working on her second book of poems.