Linda Benninghoff, “How I Would Like to Die”

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How I Would Like to Die

I would like to die like a photograph
with all its pixels pushed to take in
the aqua of the grass, the sere woods, sky.
And I would like to die like a wheelbarrow
I dragged up a road, trudging, its cargo lost,
the branches, dirt, that fill it
dumped in the mulch pile.
I would like to die joyous, healthy,
as if the tremulousness
of illness would not matter much.
And I would like to die before my friends,
with them waiting for me, writing me,
advising me, visiting me, as if these things
could cushion me to a strange ending
to everything I have known,
captive now in the magnifying glass
of the past—
to everything that has come before.

 


Linda Benninghoff first became interested in poetry in her twenties when she was introduced to contemporary poetry, Galway Kinnell, W. S. Merwin, and so on. She was recently introduced to international contemporary poetry and says poetry has made a big difference in her life.


 

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Rebecca Lartigue, “Ode to Across and Down”

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Ode to Across and Down

Ari and Ira,
Ali and Uma,
Iman and Enya and Ava and Ono;

Ivan and Igor,
Isak and Ibsen,
Alec and Alda and Arlo and Yoko.

Canonize, immortalize
Urey, hydrogen’s discov’rer;
Orr of hockey and Ott of baseball;
and Otis, too, of elevators.

Melville’s Oloo and Oklahoma’s Ada,
Thin Man’s Nora and its Asta,
Shakespeare’s Iago, sherpa’s yeti,
shade-loving hosta, and late-blooming aster.

Ural and Alps, dear mountain ranges,
Romans’ Nero and Brontë’s Eyre;
Scarlett’s Tara and Shakespeare’s Avon,
poets’ morn and e’en and e’er and ne’er.

Obi and olla, olio, ogee,
saki, soir, and tsar;
eerie and eyrie, ulna and être,
ogre, oater, and gooey agar.

Pro bono, pro rata, or quid pro quo;
eel and ego, yin and yam,
abbé, agua, and amie;
euro and peso and lira and rand.

Epée and ague,
and of course jai alai;
île and iter,
oreos and ryes.

Été and está,
ebon, ecrú:
erat and amo
ciao, adieu.

 


Rebecca Lartigue surprises herself with how many things she can get done when avoiding more unpleasant tasks on her to-do list. She teaches literature and lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and dog. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in First-Class Lit, Storylandia, and The Massachusetts Review.


 

Paul Wiegel, “Road Trip”

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Road Trip

You and I are not planted and
still, we
do not measure our worlds against
stillness, as stones do. We
move. We are carried as
infants and we never
lose the taste for that dip and
rock of going forward. Your
roads and mine are
just other corridors, they
draw a wider gap between
where we were and
where we’ve come to
be, which is where
a mind can finally be rid of
being static and
stationary. We move to
drop away from that
easy trap of things that
are at rest, until we
feel the thrilling release of
motion and its soft
roll that carries us away.

 


Paul Wiegel is a Green Bay native and now writes from his home near the upper Fox River in Wisconsin. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The English Journal, Riverbabble, Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, and Hummingbird. He is the 2015 winner of the John Gahagan Poetry Prize. You can find him at www.foxriverpoetry.com


 

Michael Maul, “Anniversary Poem”

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Anniversary Poem

I stood on the sidewalk
by my parents
when my brother set off
on his first bike ride solo around the block
and never came back.

For fifty years some of me has waited there
midway through his lap,
but his journey continues as he learns firsthand
lessons in how the universe expands.

We had no way to know
where he would go:
no pins in a map to show
a block of ice in someone’s garage,
or a hit and run by a car,
or a cargo hold on a ship to Mars.

What I know now
(but then did not)
is many moments come and go,
but really bad ones stay.

They have made me live with the remains
of a child heart in an aging man’s frame,
trying still to negotiate with something
a slightly better version of forever,
scaled down so not to ask too much,
hoping less enough could be approved.

Like meeting in a halfway place,
he in a soft knit shirt I outgrew,
and I, promising not to talk,
just remain side by side with him
in front of a house,
kickstands down and sidewalk safe.

 


Michael Maul is currently living on Florida’s Gulf Coast. His poems have appeared in literary publications in and outside the United States, and in anthologies that include The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2015 and The Best of Boston Literary Magazine 2005-2015. He is also a past winner of the Mercantile Library Prize for Fiction.


 

Leah Browning, “Charley Horse”

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Charley Horse

Just before he was supposed to leave Italy,
he woke in the night with a charley horse.

All the next day, he was in pain, limping.
After breakfast, he brought down his suitcase

and lingered in the lobby of the hotel,
talking to the man from Moldova

who’d drunk too much cognac the night before
and was nursing a hangover. They were still

talking when the car arrived to take him
to the airport; he said good-bye to the man

from Moldova and waved from the car window;
he was already at the airport when he realized

that he’d left his brown bag in the hotel lobby.
The laptop, all the notes for his next talk—

everything is a math problem now.
(If a driver travels at x kilometers per hour,

and the distance between the hotel and the airport
is y kilometers, how many minutes do you have

to get through security and limp all the way down
to the appropriate gate before ticketed passengers

must be on board the flight leaving for Germany?)
A very young woman with a stroller returns

to the service counter and elbows her way
in front of him, screaming at the desk clerks

in ragged Italian. She is wearing overalls, her blond
hair cut short, and the boy in the stroller

doesn’t look up. The Italian women
with their sleek black hair and painted nails

are accustomed to this sort of thing;
they go on typing even as they snap back at her.

Later, on a sort of bus out to the tarmac,
the young woman will have to relinquish

the stroller and hold the little boy on her lap.
You can see: the fight has gone out of her.

They have all been herded onto this shuttle,
exhausted, drained, submissive as lambs.

The party is only half over, but the champagne
tastes flat and the hors d’oeuvres have gone cold.

Two weeks later, a shipping service will return
the brown bag to his home for 150 euros.

Someday he will hold his own sons on his lap.
Now, he stares out the window and waits.

 


Leah Browning is the author of three short nonfiction books for teens and preteens. Her fifth chapbook, Out of Body, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. Browning’s fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Santa Ana River Review, Coldnoon, Bellows American Review, Chagrin River Review, and the anthologies Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence, from White Pine Press, and The Doll Collection, from Terrapin Books. A handful of her poems have also appeared with audio and video recordings in The Poetry Storehouse. In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.


 

Nancy Wheaton, “White Heron”

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White Heron

We stopped to see burrowing owls. Instead,
she crept soundlessly toward the nonchalant frog,
sunning himself on a cement block.
The new house was being painted a sage color.
A truck radio blaring, Latino workers laughing.

A worker dropped a tool, startling the egret,
but not the frog. She turned her head. Waited.
The marsh lay behind the sprawling abode.
Another round of laughter from the workers, this time louder.
Too late: the bill pierced the frog just as he turned.

Then, the business of the midday meal. We have laws
preventing torture, suffering. Yet the heron, feathers red,
stood her ground, waiting for limpness. One painter,
Rafael, watched. We did too, from the other side
of the road. Pobre, he whispered.

The whiteness of the heron, the stealth, the clearly won
victory did not erase an aura of defenseless defeat.
The frog, now almost ready to be swallowed, legs sprawled, gazed
toward the marsh. The bulging eyes, dilated pupils,
with taupe flecks, disregarding. No sun reflected.

 


Nancy Wheaton lives on the New England seacoast, writes poetry, reads widely, and enjoys the natural world. She practices and teaches yoga as well.


 

Jennifer Poteet, “House Cat’s Ode”

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House Cat’s Ode

          There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
           —William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Brown-speckled sparrow:
I think highly of your flight.
I am emerald-eyed and hungry.
Alight my bowl tonight.

If you were up to me,
we would be together.
I would spit out your feathers
but lick, with awe, your pulsing heart.

With glee I’d gnaw both fluttery wings.
How exquisite, how noble you art!
Taunt me, tail me as you will.
Make me dance against the pane.

Spent, for now, I’ll settle on the sill,
sleep until we sport again.
I want your jaunt, your jocular tease.
I dream how I would take you in the trees.

 


Jennifer Poteet lives in Montclair, NJ, and works in Manhattan as a fundraiser for public television. She has had work published in several online and print journals.