Joan Colby, “The Dog and Me Howling”

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, etc. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published eighteen books, including Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press, which received the 2013 FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, and Ribcage from Glass Lyre Press, which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her most recent books are Carnival and The Salt Widow, both from FutureCycle Press.

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The Dog and Me Howling

The dog saw him die
So she knows
The way a cow who delivers
A dead calf sniffs it
And walks away making a sorry noise.

If I say his name,
She sits in front of me
And stares into my eyes.
If I cry, she howls.
She wants us to howl together.
She throws back her head,
Escalating to an almost-scream,
So I scream too.
She licks my face.
Isn’t this better?

When years ago our male shepherd
Witnessed his mate die,
He howled nonstop for three days.
He sat in his pen like an old
Obsidian god.

This dog, who loved to guard the man
Who was failing, has lost her job.
She’s agitated, walking around the house
Knocking things off shelves on purpose.

I give her a time-out in her crate.
She puts her head on her paws
And is quiet. Her eyes follow me
As I move to the sink to wash dishes.
How much can she possibly know
About sorrow? Enough, I think. Enough.

 


 

 

 

Denise Segal-Umans, “A Trek”

Denise Segal-Umans grew up in South Africa and now lives in the Boston area. As a speech-language therapist and linguist, she worked for over thirty years in language and literacy development and as a teacher of English as a second language. Her poems have been published in Clementine Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Poetry Quarterly, Indiana Voice Journal, and The Avocet: a Journal of Nature Poetry.

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A Trek

Regret is like following a path through the bush,
retracing your steps from the other end, in search
of an animal—tracking its footsteps as they recede
into dust, only a whiff of scent still clinging
to the veld grass. Regret

wraps itself around you like a worn fleece,
the one you wear for this trek, the one you’re loath
to give away—not now, not yet: it’s still too snug
in a worn, familiar way, despite tattered cuffs
and a too-tight fit,

shoulders drooping, pulling you back
with each movement to remorse, specks of dirt
ground into its fabric, each scuff on the sleeve
a word said in jest, misunderstood,
a gesture not intended, a chance

missed and rued. Your thoughts bulge
with words spoken hastily, then lamented, actions
taken or not taken, instants lost and mourned,
moments frayed at the edges. Regret
is like retrieving a map

from the back pocket of your memory,
to find landmarks warped and faded,
blurred by the stretch and scratch
of time. So you return home, wary
of footsteps behind you, at dusk,
that hour of unease.

 


 

 

 

Candace Pearson, “13 Days”

Candace Pearson won the Liam Rector First Book of Poetry Prize from
Longwood University for Hour of Unfolding. Her poems have been published in leading journals and anthologies and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A freelance writer/editor by day, she organizes poetry events and writes by lantern light in the San Bernardino Mountains of California.

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13 Days

1 / The sky opens and two pencil-traced figures fall
into a day of paper, shaky ink. After twenty-five years,
we make vows of state-sanctioned origami.

2 / Molecules shift after an unexpected wind. I sign away
some inexpressible solitude. You: I’m not afraid
of dying, but now I want more time.

3 / A day of case numbers & invaders. Hospice nurses &
opioid peddlers, deliveries of oxygen, a mechanical bed
that hoists you high onto the altar.

4 / I mimic your careful cuneiform, diary of doses & hours,
ruler-straight rows of acquiescence from a man
who once took nothing stronger than vitamin C.

5 / This morning I brave the syringe, draw just enough
morphine, not more, let it weep into your mouth,
calibrating the immeasurable.

6 / Your son arrives. We show our ringed hands; you,
unable to rise or stop leave-taking, say, It has been
a wonderful five days for both of us.

7 / A memory of feathers: blue heron on guard, injured
crow falling into your embrace, so many wings.
If only they could grant you glide & pitch.

8 / Yes, ma’am! Yes, sir! you shout, already in between
realms, as sentry trees tap on your windows in code
and earth persists in tenacious rotation.

9 / Morning of stones, collected around ponds
at the world’s edge. Quartz, its gray veins bleeding,
fool’s gold preening in the tumble & rush.

10 / For all the ill-formed words, noxious, lamented
words, for each stinging nettle & bite, in this moment,
on this day, we forgive.

11 / Farewells whirl into view. An old actor friend visits
to conjure your younger self. An ex-wife worries a
shared rosary, you smile. Levitation fleeting.

12 / One last day given over to water. Streams we camped by,
pre-dawn fishing, your fingertips anticipating a pool’s
cool edge. I whisper, It’s okay to dive.

13 / This day of song. Three versions of your favorite,
an Irish ballad, ending with Elvis. On a high note,
on ink & ash & light.

 


 

 

 

Gale Acuff, “10”

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in several countries and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.

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10

One day when I’m dead I won’t be dead but
alive, more alive than alive, even,
that’s what they say at Sunday School so I
needn’t be afraid of dying even
though I am, it might hurt and I might be

in the middle of something important,
halfway through a pizza or a box of
hollow chocolates or a pan of popcorn
or a comic mag or a book about
dinosaurs or outer space or dinos
in outer space or when I’m older Play
-boy magazine or maybe my first kiss
but our lips don’t quite meet and then the world

ends or at least mine does but she lives on
to taste somebody else and I’ll be cut
out, standing in line for the throne of God
and awaiting His judgment when I could
hear her saying that she wants me to call
again and I say sure but I never do.

 


 

 

 

Amy Liu, “Behind the Trees”

Amy Liu is a woman of color and a sixteen-year-old poet based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her poetry is featured in National Braille Press, Neshaminy Journal, Her Culture, etc.

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Behind the Trees

Where does placid passion reside? Behind the trees?
For in the rolling red clay you hide behind the trees.

Necks craned bodies carved—we seal the broken sky,
as gilded-feathered birds of whiskey glide behind the trees.

“Our Nǚwā molded us from honey” / “Can you hear us?
Ma!” / Prophets peons serfs abide behind the trees.

Missed the boat / Knot untangled / Do I live undone?
Dried dock defied / Cunning ravens collide behind the trees.

Sipping from suspended orange blossoms, I hear
demise of azure / Adam chides behind the trees.

Crystal lionesses prod & pirouette on pearl,
pinning vivid opera chimes on hair of Naugahyde behind the trees.

Are these bones of soot mine, Nǚwā?
You forged me from ropes of snide, behind the trees?

How your teardrops look like trinkets in the rain!
To your ode even desert clairvoyants replied behind the trees.

Home is mine under scorching, crashing tides of pretense—
nimble owls pray to Rigel from inside behind the trees.

Is that petaled face of amethyst yours, mother?
Alas, love, such you cannot decide behind the trees.