Oliver Hutton, “Sifnos”

Oliver Hutton’s work has appeared in Clementine Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Rat’s Ass Review, and IthacaLit. Otherwise, he is an English shipping lawyer working for a Swedish company and living in Greece.

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Sifnos

Teresa, bare-breasted, sits over me
and peels grapes and places them on my tongue;
I lie on a chaise longue, robe spilt around my modesty,
and chew and swallow them one by one.
Teated fruit blocks my view to the sea,
but the waves are ample invitation,
Sounding with cicadas in backing symphony…
I rise and walk over to the balcony.

Terraced hillsides dotted with olive tree,
drystone walls, a crumbling watch tower,
whitewash cubes, a local donkey,
whitewash chapels belling every hour;
figs fermenting on paths with rosemary,
thyme, pine, fuchsia bougainvillea;
a boat in the deep with a wake like a comet,
and infinite blue rising up to the summit.

A cock crows. Or is it a hen?
I think it time to lie down again.

 


[previously published in Rat’s Ass Review]

 

 

Kevin Shyne, “How Hard We Try”

Once a freelance writer, later a corporate speechwriter, and at last a poet, Kevin Shyne has been published in Poetry Breakfast, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, and Blue Heron Review. Kevin lives in a small town in the corn-and-soybean heart of Illinois, where, along with other arts-minded volunteers, he organized the 2018 Festival of the Written Word, a creative writing event for students from the seven high schools in Bureau Country.

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How Hard We Try

Say it was her command.
My daughter, age eleven,
stared me down
until I said the words,
I love myself.
But obedience was not enough.
She drilled me with her eye.
Now with feeling, she persisted
as if to say
If you can’t why should I?

Softening her stare,
she granted me a night’s reprieve
attentive as I tucked her in
kissed her cheek,
and left the door an inch ajar.
In the hall I tried again.
I love myself
spoken in a voice I barely recognized.
Much easier to say and mean
I love you to a child like this
but turn the words back on ourselves
we choke on undeservingness.

Tomorrow night I’ll try again
as much for her sake as for mine.
One day, when I am but a face
watching from a picture frame
hanging on a daughter’s wall
she’ll catch me eyeing
her surrender and wonder
what happened to her spine.
Then she will remember,
besieged by her own children’s eyes
how easily the words once came
to her and how hard a parent tries.

 


 

 

 

John Daugherty, “How to carve a poetic sculpture”

John Daugherty is an emerging writer and poet from Houston, Texas. He is taking online creative writing courses from the UCLA Extension (certificate program) and University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education. His work was adapted for the Ripples in Space podcast and has been published in the journal Havik.

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How to carve a poetic sculpture

They tell me that to sculpt my poem
I must start with a marble block of form
But that would be a good way
To sculpt a block of a block of a block
Which is not a sculpture at all

To carve a sculpture you first sculpt clay
To sculpt clay you first sculpt grey matter
To sculpt grey matter you first sculpt memories
To sculpt memories you first get off your ass

Hammer in hand whack away the excesses
The negative image of the poem
To match the clay model in the mind
Rocks and dust later swept away
Claw chisel tapping in the details
Chisel comma chisel comma chisel period

But have you applied the seven grades
Of sandpaper to your poem sculpture
Grinding grainy grit
Until the sculpture appears
Polished and smooth and perfect
(Or at least the flaws neatly hidden)

Poetic sculpture complete
They slap the plaque on and
Give it a catalog number and
Put it in the museum book.

 


 

 

 

Diane Goodman, “At Your Party, Watching You Dance”

Diane Goodman has published poems in Indiana Review, African American Review and Prairie Schooner, and is the author of three short story collections: Party Girls (Autumn House Press), The Plated Heart, and The Genius of Hunger (both from Carnegie Mellon University Press Series in Short Fiction).

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At Your Party, Watching You Dance

That woman
who stuffed her thighs into shiny black jeans
swelled around your hips like a night sea.
And when you turned your back on me,
flaming nails broke from her fists
against the dark heavens of your hair.
She rose and swayed and sank
all around you, the music was playing,
the black water was taking you
toward the horizon of morning,
shards of red sky rising in your hair
like a sailor’s warning.