Inside the Payola Lounge,
past the Wall of Balls glowing and spinning
out dreams in Acid Lime, Galaxy Blue, Sling-
shot Red, our parents drink
perpetual vodka tonics and chain-smoke
the cowboy cigarette.
My brother and I patrol the lanes, he looking
for what? A girl, an open beer. Me,
the intention, the aim, the follow-through.
Between these ordered lines, more than a sense
of direction: a clear, undisputed path,
tiny inlaid arrows eager to guide your way.
Who wouldn’t welcome certainty, its faith
so hypnotic? The destruction, crash, and groan
only manufactured thunder. Then suddenly—
rolling back into your open hands—a spare,
a second chance. In this world everything that gets
knocked down will get picked up again.
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.
An Extra Day with My Mother
We take the dog for a walk.
I keep my hands in my pockets.
There is nothing empty here.
In the airport bathroom
the panic seems a year
We keep rituals:
smooth glass on a sill,
blooming crocuses in the yard.
Maybe it’s one of those things
you grow into
Carly Taylor is a Boulder, Colorado native educated in Creative Writing and Dance at Knox College in Illinois and now thoroughly enjoying the constant rain of the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not writing, she’s doing something else.
Judy Kaber is a retired elementary school teacher. Her poems have been published in a number of journals, both print and electronic, including The Guardian, Off the Coast, Eclectica, and The Café Review. Her contest credits include the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest in 2009, the Larry Kramer Memorial Chapbook Contest in 2011, and, most recently, second place in the 2016 Muriel Craft Bailey Contest judged by Marge Piercy. Judy lives in Maine, heats with wood, and likes to kayak on the stream behind her house.
In love in the gently respectful way
some people have, they’d wake, each holiday,
in London (they’d no children of their own,
just nephews calling on Christmas Day),
and they’d drive on Boxing Day, two hundred miles
and more, to the headland they’d known
in youth, youth with all there’d been, the cliff top,
and the surge, the roar, of the Irish Sea
in their faces, their hearts, rushing to
the fraught part of them that had known
London and routine, had stayed gracious, kind,
but now wanted that gulping of Atlantic air
each Boxing Day, the hugeness, wildness,
the clung-to nonsuburban things, a faith,
a reassurance. And then, at dusk,
the calm, slow-breathing, long drive home.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has over two hundred publications in Britain and around forty in the United States. His one chapbook is Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011).
It’s hallelujah time, and I’ve come
to be healed from narcolepsy.
We wave palm fronds while waiting
to be claimed, like airport baggage
circling, indefinitely, a terminal.
It’s hallelujah time! Our faces
are creased with worry and
our knapsacks carry weeks
of provisions, should the journey
prove arduous. Who is in charge?
The de facto pastor mops his
sweaty brow. He has grown old
on hallelujah time, is unsure
he belongs at the prow.
Our pedigrees are irreproachable,
but that won’t get us into heaven.
I can’t even stencil a blueprint of home.
It’s like a pop vocalist’s key change.
It’s like being consumed by desire.
It’s like dedicating yourself to a life
of works, to be saved by grace alone.
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.
The Temperature at Which Paper Burns
In the dream heaven was like “Fahrenheit 451”
that short story by Ray Bradbury a place
where someone has decided the past
was a mistake a minority of us choosing
to keep it anyway so one woman’s job
was to remember Dwight D. Eisenhower
and another Lyndon Baines Johnson
one assignment was to memorize
the Emancipation Proclamation another
the story of Marian Anderson and Eleanor
Roosevelt plus every note of “My Country
‘Tis of Thee” in the dream ours was
the American History cell or so it seemed
a whole contingent of us assigned Jefferson
and the Declaration and Sally Hemings
one group committing to memory
the native peoples before Columbus
on waking I almost lost heart seeing how
we are already living in an afterlife
where memory has ceased and children
wander the earth hard-wired to God
shouting hallelujah into their cellphones
my job waking to scrape up the scraps
into a single colorful pile keeping together
the whole kaleidoscope of the past
not forgetting but remembering
that we must remember
Bethany Reid’s poems have recently appeared in Calyx, Stringtown, Santa Clara Review, and the anthology What We Can Hold. Her most recent book is Sparrow, which won the 2012 Kenneth and Geraldine Gell Poetry Prize. She blogs at awritersalchemy.wordpress.com and live in Edmonds, Washington, with her husband and their three daughters.
Prayer for the Millennials
I pray for your strength,
that it will bind you to the earth,
bring some lessening of the gaping wounds
your elders have gashed into it.
I pray for your bright, green-shooted minds,
that fresh playfulness facing only forward.
I pray for your friendships,
your fingers laced
in digital permanence,
that they may grow thick roots,
become strong armor
For I see much catastrophe,
the megastorms, tsunamis,
cities leveled by tectonic shift,
the red handle on that ever-raised axe
of another mushroom cloud.
I want none of this for you.
I want alternatives.
Some other possible ending.
So, instead, Postmodern God,
all mega and byte,
O spinning silicon oracle,
promise me when torrents come,
those great waves of heat and ocean,
they escape somehow,
by tractor or laser beam,
by some means not yet known to us,
let them wave goodbye
Jennifer Rollings is a writer living and working in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry has appeared in UnLost, Clementine Unbound, Every Writers Resource, WordWrights!, and Ardentia.
Everything Moving toward Elegy in This Season of Lost Light
with a line from Ciaran Berry
Time to call out
the skirling ghosts, to count like beads
on an abacus, your disappointments.
This day began with my order
Do Not Resuscitate
accepted crisply over the phone.
Now I also move toward elegy,
ask your forgiveness for trying
to interrupt your dying.
Here at your bedside I will build
a longboat. Lay as keel, your birth.
Sculpt the ribs, fit the strakes
from what came later. Caulk with
images—the child you were, the boy.
Then lay the man you are
on folded sails; loose the mooring
and release you to your fathers.
Polaris bright above to steer you home.
Cathie Sandstrom’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Lyric, The Comstock Review, and Cider Press Review, among others, and are forthcoming in The Southern Review. She was a finalist in the Poets & Writers’ California Writers Exchange, and her poem “You, Again” is in the artists’ book collection at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. A military brat who’s lived in four countries and ten states, she finally stopped wandering when she arrived in Sierra Madre, California.