Milton P. Ehrlich, “In My Naked Body”

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In My Naked Body

I showered in the barracks
latrine at Camp LeJeune.
It was like being born
twice as a Jew,
since all the guys knew
my foreskin was different
from anything they had ever seen.
As the only Jew in my company,
I ran for my life countless times
before ever confronting the enemy.

 


Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an eighty-seven-year-old psychologist. He is also a Korean War veteran who has published many poems in periodicals such as the Toronto Quarterly Review, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.


 

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Judy Kaber, “1952”

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1952

I would like to fill in
the missing color, splash it back,
know that the diamonds
on my brother’s pajamas
are blue, that my doll
wears a burgundy dress.

The curlers
rolled in my hair are tiny
pink nubs.
My brother holds
a box, faded in the flash.
His eyes spill sleep.
No parents. Behind
the camera, I think.

Behind everything.
Later I learn to roll
tears in a ball in my throat,
to pound a silent pillow.
My chest grows gray
boxes. I file away pain
under mistake, stupid.

In the photograph
I wear yellow pajamas,
sit on a green rug,
in the background
silver tinsel hangs
from the tree.

 


Judy Kaber’s poems have been published in a number of journals, including Off the Coast, The Comstock Review, Atlanta Review, Tar River Review, and Spillway. 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.

Judy is particularly interested in the sound and taste of language and the power that it has to move people. She belongs to the online poetry workshop The Waters, as well as a local, in-the-flesh group, The Poets’ Table. She lives in Maine.


 

Jo Angela Edwins, “Smilax”

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Smilax

When people you love begin to lose their minds,
you grieve for them as if their breath were still.
Their voices—plucked wires, relentless and shrill—
call out to you. In the yard, thorny vines

sprout from rhizomes you must unearth and toss
in garbage pails if you hope to be rid of them.
Spade to root, glove leather to chartreuse stem,
and the work isn’t easy. The leaves wear a gloss

bright as the face of a nymph, but life’s unjust:
what’s lovely seduces, and danger slips out of focus.
Love withers. In its place, a purple crocus,
pretty enough when it blossoms, dries to dust.

And there the poor Smilax, ungainly, wild with need,
her name suggestive of a lazy joy,
goes mad at the whims of a faithless boy
whose pain turns to saffron while hers turns to weed,

weeds you exhume in the summer glare,
a battle, like most, that could always be worse.
You sweat and you fret. Your hands blister. You curse,
while a telephone’s ring cuts through the thick air.

 


Jo Angela Edwins has published pieces in various journals and anthologies and is a Pushcart Prize and Bettering American Poetry nominee. She has received awards from the South Carolina Academy of Authors and Poetry Super Highway. Her chapbook, Play, was published in 2016. She lives in Florence, SC.


 

Stephanie V. Sears, “Passing through Venice”

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Passing through Venice

The air tastes of milk.
The gaping June sky is
an infant duke yawning.

Under an awning’s ambry shade
shimmer brocades of light.
I reverently curtsey to the sway
of clerical pompons.

Trailed by the festive wake of a Sandolo
my absent mind floats in the lactation
of noon’s sluggish haze.

I too, masterpiece of subsisting
without thought, time or compass.

Above me a nobile terrace
pillared with jasmine
has lanterns for nighttime
so the crescent moon can rest.

Behind the grand front room
it is probable that
an American lady naps
under her Tiepolo ceiling

while her cat reclines outside
striped in orange splendor
paws pulsing in lazy decrees
over the edge of a green cushion
surveying the watery glaze
of the incoming tide.

Recalling me from elsewhere
extending a greeting

the well-heeled puss grants me
a worldly stretch.
A butler brings him a snack.

 


Stephanie V. Sears is a French and American ethnologist, freelance journalist, essayist, and poet whose poetry recently appeared in The Deronda Review, The Comstock Review, The Mystic Blue Review, The Big Windows Review, and Indefinite Space.


 

Linda Elkin, “Simply Because He Is Mine”

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Simply Because He Is Mine

After my father fell
in the shower,
the meanness
slipped right out of him.

Now he surfaces
in a coma, repeats
a phrase, familiar,
but useless,

except it links me,
animal-like, daughter.
His hands and
feet, familiar, similar

to my own. His mouth
opens and closes.
I feed him fish and rice,
overcooked carrots,

hold the fork
to his mouth, then the cup,
the sweet, pale juice.
I watch him sleep, hold

his hand, claw-like,
the grip he has
no control over. My father,
on morphine, hours pass

before he opens his eyes.
I wait by his bed, watch him,
talk to him, while he sleeps.
Nothing between us but

the familiar form
of our bodies, needs
simplified. I coax him
to breathe, his one last job.

You are my flesh and blood,
he used to say. I sit
by my father, watch over
him, flesh of my

flesh, daughter, father.
When he wakes, I feed him,
simply because he is mine.
Simply because he is mine.

 


Linda Elkin’s poetry has been published in numerous publications, including The Bloomsbury Review, Antiphon, Clementine, and in the anthology Kindled Terraces: American Writers in Greece (Truman State University Press). She earned an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and has been awarded writers residencies at Soapstone and the Vermont Studio Center. Linda grew up in NYC and now lives in Oakland, California.


 

Patrice Boyer Claeys, “Father”

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Father

Must I carry you forever with your slim ankles
and thin wrists, high hard belly

precariously wrapped in terry cloth, blue balls
dangling, accordion flesh puckering? According

to Mom you were never blue a day in your life.
An easy lie. What to make of your delicate

folding of the tea towel while the sink drained,
your nightly escape upstairs, cursing Hogan’s

Heroes, smirking at My Three Sons while we
sprawled around the blue glow? You sat

in the gloom, your room lit by the one cheap
lamp, smoke coiling from the weighted stand,

the brown glass filling with grey ash.
What did you see in those pages of legs splayed,

rumps flared, lips wet with Vaseline?
The sharp dark V’s an armchair adventure

in solitary confinement. Did you know your own sadness?
You of the Broadway matinee, manufactured razzmatazz,

heartstrings plucked by musicians in the pit, lit
by those ghostly bulbs. Mom refused

the staged sentiment in no uncertain terms.
So you took me in your overheated car, stopping

at Stuckey’s for roadside sweets, the nut-studded caramel
sticking in my throat, choking me with the weight

of filling your need, so mixed in my mind with the gentle
man you were. I found it hard to breathe in the front seat:

the hissing heater, steaming shoes and ungloved hands,
the twenty questions all used up turned me gasping

to the window, where I watched signs blur, trees
curve, taillights swerve and heard you whistle

happily as our car sped homeward carrying us
separately together into the tunneling dark.

 


Patrice Boyer Claeys revved up her creative writing at the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio after fifteen years in publishing and PR. She joined Plumb Line Poets, of Evanston, Illinois, and completed her first book, Lovely Daughter of the Shattering, which is now seeking a publisher. Recent work has appeared in Beech Street Review, Bird’s Thumb, and Light: A Journal of Photography & Poetry, where she was featured artist. Patrice reads for and contributes to the Mom Egg Review and has been nominated for Best of the Net. She lives in Chicago with her husband and has two adult daughters.


 

Bruce McRae, “As It So Happens”

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As It So Happens

“The blood-soaked soil of history,”
I muttered to the waiter.
Who nodded very slightly,
ensuring a generous gratuity.

“Some metaphysical pizzazz,”
I whispered under my breath to the cashier,
pocketing a handful of mints
before making my way into the night,
into a city pestered with people.

By a dark-stained alleyway
a wino politely asked me for a quarter.
“Mathematics is the handwriting of God!”
I shouted unnecessarily, hurrying on
as if late for my own wedding.

 


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle, and the North American Review. His books are The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy (Cawing Crow Press), Like As If (Pskis Porch), and Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).