Virginia Konchan, “Hallelujah Time”

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Hallelujah Time

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.


 

Bethany Reid, “The Temperature at Which Paper Burns”

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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.


 

Jennifer Rollings, “Prayer for the Millennials”

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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
against catastrophe.

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
and vanish.

 


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.


 

Cathie Sandstrom, “Everything Moving toward Elegy…”

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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.


 

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.


 

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.