Nancy Wheaton, “Black Veil”

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Black Veil

Saturday afternoon, raw. Dripping clouds,
exuding a vaporous lingering drizzle,
matching her mood. Tears, her voice
an octave lower than usual. An eerie stillness.

We waited. Maybe this will be a lesson
for us all. The party days are over.
Heroin kills. There is no recreational,
just having fun use. She insists on the black veil.

He loved expressing the moment. Rummaging
through a chest once, he found a cravat.
High, he started on Duolingo, blazing
through five lessons. Shot up. Said je vous aime.

Sitting on the front porch, watching
each other, we wished we had matching veils.
Just admit it, I offer: his death, the gargantuan end,
is our catalyst for survival, for change.

Still, as the birds in the weeping rain chirp, the urge
to shoot up persuading, sweat beading up,
thoughts of just this one last time
loom as the edge of the full moon appears.

 


Nancy Wheaton is a teacher on the New England seacoast. She writes poetry, reads widely, and enjoys the natural world.


 

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Virginia Konchan, “Picnic”

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Picnic

How the pedestrian becomes you.
How you become the pedestrian.
The premise gives way to myth,
then the whole molecular structure
of logic comes crashing down.
The years begin to careen past us,
a souped-up sports car with rims.
Remember the lake, I say. Remember
that summer we were in love with love, and gin.
We char the dogs. We eat watermelon and collect
the rinds. At the pinnacle of event you flex
your beauty: a late-night talk-show host, on speed.
And your better half in a hammock, milking
the distance between impulse and cognition.
Praise idleness, fire ants, failed marriages.
Praise the gingham cloth on which we feed.

 


Virginia Konchan is the author of Vox Populi (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets, The Believer, and elsewhere. A cofounder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, she is an associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly.


 

Joel Scarfe, “Hiding a Line”

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Hiding a Line

I’m hiding a line in a poem,
a line about the hour’s careful benediction,
the rain’s soft benevolent voice bouncing between the houses.

The beef is taking care of itself slowly on the stove
while I hide a line about the garlic stigma of my fingers,
the way it announces itself each time I lift the wine.

And I know the night that wants my death
is falling through the universe, brimming with its grief,
engorged with the ordinariness of grief,

but I’m hiding a line in a poem,
hiding, like some simple animal about to leap
effortlessly out of reach.

 


Joel Scarfe’s poems have been featured in Ambit, Rialto, Times Literary Supplement, London Magazine, and many other UK-based publications. He lives with the artist Rebecca Edelmann and their two children.


 

Jennifer Poteet, “A Bun Dance of Cakes”

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A Bun Dance of Cakes

Whose sovereign will eat
our snow-capped, indulgent offering,
elevated on this silver salver?
Stuffed into a sugar-stiff floured crown,
we raise and hail around this, the imperial batter.

Delighted with enticement, the king
flashes gold from his encased back teeth.
Oblivious to the unseemly dance of people’s feet,
he laughs from his gut and gulps and burps,
and throws the half he doesn’t want into the street.

 


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.

Photographer Brian C. McCabe created the above black-and-white photo of tables in Bryant Park, New York City, winter 2010.


 

Candace Pearson, “Ascended”

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Ascended

Two centuries ago, French neurosurgeon
Paul Broca dug inside people’s heads
to find the center of speech.

When you no longer speak the lexicon
of consonants and vowels, I touch you there,
on your left temple—Broca’s Area—

to summon the strangled words, release them,
rising to the ceiling of our old kitchen
the way some say the soul

ascends in the final moment when nothing
spoken or unspoken can save us.
Ancient Egyptians considered the brain

a minor organ, discarded it
during mummification. What is it
I want to hear?

Certainly not worthless, worthless
or stupid, so very stupid, the language of
mother to daughter,

soaked in vinegar and bitters, edges turned
danky-green. Not praise or comfort
come too late as we wait

for faint syllables to emerge. Broca’s
broken. It’s compost. My fingertips
on your temporal bone, that shallow cup.

Greek philosophers declared the heart
the center of thought, the brain merely
a machine to cool it.

How odd to touch at all. The skin burns.
All that returns: not sound
but sweet silence.

 


Candace Pearson’s poems have appeared in leading journals and anthologies nationwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, she won the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry for her collection, Hour of Unfolding. She scratches out her work in an old hiker’s cabin in the San Gabriel foothills, north of Los Angeles.


 

Antonia Clark, “In the Dell”

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In the Dell

The farmer takes a wife. She’ll grow
into a woman with an acid tongue. Now, though,

young enough to be his daughter,
she’s grateful and contrite. She’ll slaughter

his pigs and chickens, tend his small fire,
put up with sweat and swearing, acquire

the habit of servitude. It suits her, clings
like thin cotton or flannel. When she sings,

it’s songs she doesn’t really know the meaning of,
words of women who have tasted love

along with heartache. For her, though, no call
for such notions. What she has now is all

she can look forward to. Wait, you want to say.
Take your time. There must be a way,

another life, an option. Even the new hired man,
with his gentle manner and sure hand.

But what can you do? You want to say look
out. But it’s no use. You sigh, close the book.

Leave her to her chores. Let her retreat.
The farmer’s wanting his supper, demanding meat.

 


Antonia Clark works as a medical writer and editor. She has also taught poetry and fiction writing and is co-administrator of an online poetry forum, The Waters. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Smoke and Mirrors (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and a full-length poetry collection, Chameleon Moon (David Robert Books, 2014). Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and electronic journals, including The Cortland Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and Rattle. Toni lives in Vermont, loves French picnics, and plays French café music on a sparkly purple accordion.


 

Alfred LaMotte, “Brunch”

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Brunch

Earth, our waitress, comes
to the table in her rumpled apron
stained with a hundred juices.
“What will it be this morning?”
“Let’s start with some mist
in one of those green valleys,
and a cup of black loam with
a single tree frog.
“Then fallen apples over easy
with extra worms,
a side of scattered leaves
in a caramelized sunbeam.”
“That comes with summer’s last
abandoned bird’s nest salad,” she says.
Or soup of the day, fern bog with
skunk cabbage and blue chanterelles.”
“I’ll take the soup,
a half carafe of autumn rain
and a cruller the shape
of a groundhog’s hole.”
She remembers your order by heart.
She knows what you love.
Old ones come back to this place.
Then they bring grandchildren.
There’s a line to get in.
Sometimes it seems
we have to wait a year,
but it’s worth it.

 


Fred LaMotte is an interfaith college chaplain and an instructor in philosophy. He lives near Seattle, where he loves to hike, play tenor sax, and gather circles for poetry and meditation. He has published two books of poetry with Saint Julian Press, Wounded Bud and Savor Eternity One Moment at a Time. He also co-authored Shimmering Birthless: A Confluence of Verse and Image with Hawaiian artist Rashani Réa.