Like Violets on the Wind


Jessie Carty
( North Carolina )
Far 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.

Alan Catlin
( Schenectady, New York )
Our Lady of the Trenches

traverses 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.

Alison Eastley
( Tasmania, Australia )
What is closer

than 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.

Charles Freeland
( Dayton, Ohio )
Reducible 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.

Helen Losse
( North Carolina )
Spin, Spin, Spin

The 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
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.

Maggie Hess
( Tennessee )
trestle poem

for 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!

Philip Byron Oakes
( Austin, Texas )
Around the Edges

Beneficent 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. 

Joan Payne Kincaidy
( Sea Cliff, New York )

I 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