Jessie Carty( North Carolina )Alan CatlinFar and Wee
Breathing on trees was my hobby. I’d sit on the browned pine needles, leaning my head against the bark and I’d suck in as much air as I could through my nose then I’d let it go with my chin pointed up to the branches. I’d pretend I was blowing up a balloon as I willed my carbon to keep the trees growing up and out.
I was never good at making balloons. Impatience perhaps? The first long breaths are almost futile. The balloon just spurts the air back at you, but if you keep pushing past that the plastic will eventually give and expand from the center rounding out.
Mom was the best at tying the ends of the balloons but my brother would do in a pinch. Like when we were waiting in the car once and to entertain us, my brother blew up a balloon for each of us. My sister was in the front seat, bouncing her balloon back and forth against the windshield, but I had taken a dare from my brother. I put the balloon under my shirt to pretend I was pregnant. I was rubbing my new rotund belly, saying, “Feel it kick!” When it popped, shrinking against the skin of my stomach it pulled the flesh up and in.
( Schenectady, New York )Alison EastleyOur Lady of the Trenchestraverses No Man’s Land at night carrying a Red Cross flag through the mud, through the rolled barbed wire, shell pits and mustard gas clouds, as if she were some kind of Florence Nightingale risen from the dead, her nursing uniform soiled and tattered, her medical kit a bag of dirty tricks and unrolled bandages, her haggard face, unnaturally pale skin, high lit by artillery rounds flash firing the murky sky, her boots caked by all manner of viscera, gone-putrid skin of soldierboys, guard dogs and mules of the dead, instruments of war; her face at first light the last thing they see.( Tasmania, Australia )Charles FreelandWhat is closerthan the lump growing inside my right breast and while I like to think all I have to do is wait for the biopsy results already the weather has changed from benign to wild winds, rain lashed storms and candles placed throughout the house after another blackout. Without soft light fingers stumble to decipher ancient texts that died when the city died in a whisper not these crowded voices in the night I find it impossible to sleep.( Dayton, Ohio )Helen LosseReducible to Units of Measurement
The levee stretches halfway to Albertson, a town I remember from childhood when we used to invent towns in our conversation. And then endeavor to make them real by drawing them on pieces of paper. I concentrated on the packing district, sure that some day I would quit school and wind up there. Like the uncle I was also forced to invent through the strictness of the rules. Sometimes we acknowledge what we have until that time steadfastly ignored – as if changing direction might allow us to free ourselves from the grip of fear. Or small-mindedness. But there are suits of armor in the hallway and you can’t just wish them away. They have to be dealt with in a practical manner. The same as those mummies you saw in a case once in the museum in St. Louis. You kept asking whether they were important personages wrapped up and stowed away for millennia. Even the placards refused to tell the whole story. The cobb salad did not end up causing you the distress you suspected at first it might. But no matter how frequently you expressed this and other fears to the patrons who accompanied you through the hallways, no one seemed to believe a word you said.
It’s like there are two layers of discourse at all times – one associated with the surface of things where we move about quite comfortably. And another associated with that which is hidden or underneath (depending on your perspective; depending on, for example, your age or your height relative to those who constructed the buildings in the first place). This is, finally, an illusion. Much like that which occurs when warm air gets trapped under a layer of colder air and all sorts of human figures seem to dance around beneath the trees that line the horizon.
( North Carolina )Maggie HessSpin, Spin, SpinThe world’s gone where in a handheld basket? People are loony— seriously dangerous— except for the chosen few that God actually likes. I think not. But what do I know? I’m just an old soul wearing nerdy glasses. Aren’t most of us rather forgettable in the long run? And maybe even if the run is not-so-long. The earth spins, yes? Spin, spin, spin— and we have lost the faith of the daisies— while sweet hickory smoke floats like violets on the wind.( Tennessee )Philip Byron Oakestrestle poemfor my siblings teenagers are fantastic young enough for trestle monsters with swamp grass on their head to squeal when splashed by the cool creek water but old enough to struggle openly, philosophically, with the human condition are humans necessary or alien, destroying this beauty? but when Moby Dick and the pimple faced green haired algae beast and Aldo Leopold all morph into Huck Finn under this old train bridge in rural Appalachia where these rocks are older than any others where these creek pebbles capture a mosaic of silent shadows and bright sun rays the beauty here in the bluebird that flits down to land on the fence post is as much a magnificent part of God as are the young people under the trestle bridge squatting there, in the shallows catching minnows with their bare hands standing in the deep washing their dirt ingrained feet this is our golden opportunity!( Austin, Texas )Joan Payne KincaidyAround the EdgesBeneficent monarch butterflies killing the ones they love with color. Viscerally unacquainted meets ice cream parlor, in a déjà vu chilling the will to know. The missing crux of a parallel universe. The headcount lost in a sea of ones. Palliatives sold in fruit baskets taking lemons for the ride of their lives. A house not approved for dementia. Curtseys to the subliminal in dosages intended to clear up the confusion. The denial registered by Richter as a cocker spaniel. Barking at the moon like days of yore.( Sea Cliff, New York )RememberI remember reading how Colette’s last lover a dark one would come in and put a shawl over her shoulders as she wrote as I write I’m asked to do this do that but not write, sing, dance or paint and yet they enjoyed all those thoughts running thru your mind as they observed it evolving and they are not drinking on any graves anymore not enough time all of them underground at least you know where they are that they are free of staff infections, birthing, lumpy mattresses manic modems and all dysfunctional plastic devils the mind is like a flailing bank he said you said he said zip it! you tell me to take a potion to sleep but you are the one trying to rip something apart time to cut to the pizza scene – do have some beer before it starts again – the jazz and zipped lips another argument over vegie vs half of something else time to rip out the damned jammed seatbelt an orange blinking light that enlightens you about the fact that nothing here works anymore and now we’re going up and down (sic) like an old tradition remember Father? How they all came to share you under there, unmarked to this day sleep well all you dear dead in your shawls and fancy dress.
I - Desperate To Tell
II - Roads Create Probability
Featured Poet - George Moore
Current Issue - Fall 2009