POETRY: Jeri Thompson – Channeling My Inner Boy-child

Channeling My Inner Boy-child

Annually, my neighbor and I
get together to watch the Fourth of July fireworks
from her 8th floor, east facing apartment. It’s a
full view from the LBC to Saddleback Mountain.
We ooh and ahh at colorful explosions
from the Queen Mary, Veteran’s Stadium,
Huntington Beach Pier, and on a clear night
(aren’t they all?), Disneyland.

Two glasses of wine and one really good pre-roll later
comes the Queen’s happy ending. The neighborhood
begins its own sizzle and boom. Mere feet away,
a Green Fountain explodes into evanescent sparks.
Startled, my neighbor said,
“That was so close I can smell it.”
While I guffawed for a rude amount of time, she stared.
I couldn’t speak the words, “You don’t smell a
Green Fountain, it was my bean burrito from lunch.”

When I finally caught my breath and admitted my faux pas,
my inner boy-child and I agreed that some things are best left unsaid.

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Pruning the Agaves


A comet of freeze slams our backyard white—


shuts ants in their tunnels, locks bile

in the ducts, blocks with ice her portal vein


makes succulents messy puppets

stretched yellow against the snow.


Before the freeze their heads were fierce spires

with time to hoist their cymes of yellow flowers.


Now she’s hoarse with shrieking, I hear her

between the blows of my shovel, into the rot


I slosh my blade, she fades, is that

our phone ringing? is it Houston? do they


have a liver? is the jet on the way?

I keep hauling agaves to the dumpster,


they smell of tequila and vomit, yellow ooze

stains my gloves. Suzanne stalls on the threshold,


says, spring is coming, but it’s not to us

the promise of spring is made.


This poem was originally published in Staley’s debut collection Lost On My Own Street.



POETRY: Barbara A Meier – The Act of Canning Tomatoes

The Act of Canning Tomatoes 


“Good to see you alive.”


“You too.”


“How are you?”


Well, plugging away at least.

Sometimes I even forget you are out there.

I get a rush at your name then anger all over again,

then just sad…

It’s called:



Replacing thoughts.

I go to work,

working on talking to me, preserving me.

It reminds me of the labor of tomato canning:


Boiling water to remove skin, the squeeze to remove seeds, sanitizing lids and jars,

sweating over the stove, burning fingers, packing the tomatoes tight.

Testing, tapping to assure the seal.

Being the bacteria slayer.

Unpacking rubies to the mudroom shelves….

Unpacking my life,to assemble, store, once more.

Killing bacteria is hard stuff.

I am resolved for this minute, this second, this hour,

to cut, scald, juice, seal,and hot water bath can.

It is called Self Preservation.


“I am fine.”

“And you?”


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REVIEW: On that one-way trip to Mars – Marlena Chertock

On that one-way trip to Mars
by Marlena Chertock

Bottlecap Press, 2016

Marlena Chertock has published a book of poems that is a tour of our solar system. Not a museum tour or a virtual tour, but a mind tour where our imagination gets to find the “thinnest, softest pads to lay its paws on.”

The title of Chertock’s debut collection is On that one-way trip to Mars. When you go to Mars, why can’t you come back to visit Earth? What if you don’t like it? Don’t worry, if Chertock is with you there’ll be a pleasant balance of narrative and science. She’ll tell you the story of teeth chattering themselves right out of a mouth. She’ll steer you through fog, shadows and fire. It’s OK, she knows the way.

What most impresses me with this collection is the crafty ordering of the poems. For example, there will be several poems about illness, and then a seemingly unrelated one. When I linger between the pages, I see the seemingly unrelated poems merge into satisfying allegories.

Other times the connections between the poems are more obvious, but no less enjoyable. In the title poem a person can’t go to Mars because of a bone disorder, in another poem a person can’t go to a funeral because of a period. The red planet + the menstrual cycle = bosom buddies. I hadn’t known.

This book is a mix of detail, dream, David Bowie, confession, resolution and healing. It will take you from the periods of Mars to the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, to a man stabbed for an iPhone, his blood “staining the Metro carpet.” It’s a trip, and I don’t mind never coming back.

Order Marlena Chertock’s book here.


Review by Jim Thompson of Cacti Fur.

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Early sun yawning,
stretched out rays,
light show sparkles at water’s edge
do you love me?

Wooden vessel,
safely sand-wedged
nets bulge while stomachs ache
do you love me?

Fish, skewered
on an open flame,
glazed-out charred eyes, blackened skin
do you love me?

Pass the pieces,
chew the flesh,
feed them, feed them,
do you love me?

Now older, withered,
led by another,
belts and chains and murder
do you love me?



Good Work Is Hard To Find

One clown shy of a circus,
the noose tightening . . .

Maybe I could sell pamphlets
or forge a career in whale-watching.
Maybe I can tune engines for a living
or find work looking up at the sky.

My last position was awkward
and difficult to maintain.
My last job was painting the centuries,
examining leavings,
setting alight broken-up furniture.

I’ve had more jobs than hot dinners.
Apprentice shoeshine boy.
Glove-buffer. Sentence-finisher.
The guy who sweeps up after the elephants.
I’ve been employed to watch ditches.
A paperclip-maker. Tambourine jockey.
Professional time-filler-inner.

And you go where the work is.
Tierra del Fuego’s seedy underside.
The slums of Alaska.
Half way in and out of the Atlantic tide.

Once I built some private hells,
but no one would buy them.
I was a part-time cat-walker. A full time fool.
The inventor of thumbless mittens.
I’ve gone down for a penny and stopped on a dime.
In this down-sizing economy
I admit my thoughts have turned to crime.
Shooting the breeze. Stealing breaths. Killing time.
I’ve taken courses in lobotomies.
I’ve attended janitor university.
Learned to cut grass by correspondence.

And you know those ads on matchbook covers?
I wouldn’t answer them.


POETRY: Philip Rafferty – Before the Crying


Before the Crying

One last one

Before the crying

Must be soothed

By either of us.

One about your feet

Now plump and weighted.


How small they were then, wrapped in bags,

Summer sloshing through the snow.

We wandered together.

Searching for an open pharmacy.

A trek duly and subconsciously

influence by your Quakerism


And my Catholicism.

The sentimentalist in me

Would take your swollen feet

Indefinitely, to have more time,

To savor this, because I fear I didn’t

do it well enough when in bags.

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