Gaby Bedetti – 2 POEMS

Motion

You speed through

the Minotaur’s labyrinth

hoping to avoid the monster.

The motor responds.

You have another

someplace to go.

You look into the wind,

a lop-eared hound

head out the window.

Complicit,

the GPS tracks your

departures and arrivals.

In your sonic life,

you are the hip hero pointing

toward the next adventure,

the lover with the ball
of thread to navigate

​the labyrinth.

~

Her Final Email

 

Days you stayed in bed.

Migraines. Texas heat

and medications

made you sweat. And then

another week had slipped away,

unlike your chores and wishes.

 

At your desk, a compost heap

of essays. You even began grading

and then Shadow would sigh

to say it was past feeding time

and you abandoned them. You called

him the best dog in the present world.

 

One son announced he was moving back

so you removed the sewing machine

from his room. You then grew angry

with your husband for leaving.

The other son mentioned downsizing

and you heard nursing home.

 

Your grandchildren were delightful.

In your final email, you acknowledged

you were lucky, but only so far.

And soon after, the fatal dose.

We could have reunited,

here in Kentucky or there in Texas.

 

We could have remembered,

and renewed, our luck.

 

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R A RIEKKI – 5 POEMS

The

My girlfriend told me her least favorite word is ‘the.’
I asked why. She didn’t know. Said words like ‘pool’

and ‘mouth’ and ‘night’ would kick the’s ass.
But it’s ‘the pool,’ ‘the mouth,’ ‘the night, I said.

Not necessarily, she said, it could be ‘our pool’
or ‘her mouth’ or ‘six nights.’ She went to work.

I sat there thinking about ‘the.’ I looked at ‘the lamp’
and ‘the couch’ and ‘the crack in the ceiling.’

So many the’s in the room. But all of them over-
shadowed by nouns. I looked at a shadow

in the corner. I thought of all of the evil of the world.

~

I Worked Eighty Hours This Week

I worked ninety hours once. On an ambulance.
I had a co-worker who fell asleep once,
driving the ambulance. You only do that once.
But he didn’t get fired though. By the way,
he told me he worked one hundred hours
that week. That’s what you do when you make
minimum wage. A lot of people don’t realize
you make minimum wage on ambulances.
Those ambulance companies rake in billions.
Five thousand dollars to take you from one city
to another city just two cities away. Five grand.
I remember one night when we were waiting
for a call. We were parked near some
telephone wires and a crow came and landed
on the wires and got electrocuted. We were
right there, staring, right at it, like we were just
waiting for it to happen. Strangest thing ever.
My partner called dispatch and reported it.
I remember him saying, just in case any kids
go near it. He hung up. I said, Kids can’t fly.
Then our radio went off. We had another call.
It was for a guy who sat on a pen. When we
got there, the pen was sticking out of him
like a little tail. He asked if he should yank
it out and we yelled no, that it was acting
like a cork. A cork? Yeah, a cork, I said.

~

On the Phone, My Mom Told Me I Should Write a Poem about Working with Coronavirus Patients

I said it’d be a boring poem.
She said, no, that’s not true at all.
I said that all I see is fog, that my mask
fogs up my glasses so I can’t see anything
all day long. I’m in the back of the ambulance
and we just drive them to where they need to go
and I can’t see nothing.
She said that I was exaggerating,
so I took a photo of myself
with my glasses fogged over
like the clouds at the top of mountains in places so high up you can see both heaven and hell at the same time.

~

My Dad was a Good Dad

He told me one time
about coming home
as a kid and finding his mother
passed out
on the kitchen floor.
He thought she was drunk
again
so he pulled her down the hall
to her bedroom and
tucked her in
and it wasn’t till the next day
that he realized
she was dead.
My Dad was a good Dad.
When I worked in the prison system
as part of the nursing station
one prisoner threw his piss
in my face.
He had saved it in a cup.
I remember
after I washed my face
in the prison bathroom
for like a half hour,
not joking,
I looked up,
my hair all wet,
just sopping,
looking like I’d been crying
at the bottom of the ocean
and I smiled,
because I was alive.
My Dad was a good Dad.
That’s all I have to say.

~

I’m Old and I Don’t Make Much Money so I Am Forgotten But I Write to Tell You I Exist Too and the Casino Near My Old House Where I Grew Up Caught Fire

so I went and looked at the ashes
and it made me think of when I was at the guard gate
in the hills
in California
where I’d just stand there
for hours
and hours
and hours
every night and
during the fires there
the ash was falling horizontal
like the world was tilted on its side.

 

 

FIND RON HERE

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CAROL CASEY – 2 POEMS

Navigating the Ocean

I crave you like oxygen sometimes,
as if I couldn’t breathe without you and
this terrifies me, makes me want to
push you away, prove something,
find the key that unlocks this tether, set
you free, to go away but come back, choose
as if there was a choice,
as if I could become amphibious, grow
some gills, maybe a tail to navigate
the oceans of the loss of setting you free and not
drown; or possibly build a raft, to float above,
but not so far that I’ll miss your hand reaching
up out of the water to come aboard, in case
I can save you, as humans rarely do;
or maybe there will be a sunset and a night
when the ocean grows moon and stars
while a gentle current transports me to
somewhere my love for you is not so full
of need, will be refined of dross, capable
of anything.

The phone is ringing.
Maybe it’s you.

 

~

Spoiler Alert

There’s no escaping the constant whirs,
hums, chugs and buzzes of summer,
like birdsong, in variety and nuance,
but less conversation, more dictation,
as if to an old fashioned stenographer-
get this down, condense the languorous
signals of summer to shorthand,

We shorten grass, shrink hedges,
embarrass pieces of wood with hammers,
(to drown out the woodpeckers)
interrupt the lifespan of recalcitrant
weeds, till them under, nip and tuck.
Each hum, buzz, whir, chug
a jigsaw piece of putting nature

in her place, a pissing upon,
a tiny fist raised in defiance of ice-
storms, blizzards, microbes, death.
We oil and tighten, plug in and refuel
until the entropy of it catches up
in the end while the birds have
their say during the intermission.

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JOHN TUSTIN – CUT OFF

CUT OFF

I used to rush home from work,

Especially if I knew my wife wasn’t going to be home yet

And if some asshole tried to cut me off

I’d gun it and curse him out,

Sometimes as we drove side by side.

I wasn’t going to take that shit,

I got cut off enough when I was home with my wife.

I would drive home and the best days were the days

When I had some time to myself before I had to pick her up.

Oh, the feeling of false freedom in those precious minutes!

Later, another good time was reading to my children before bed.

After they would finally fall asleep I would lie in bed with my son

And elongate the moments before I would have to get up

And get into bed with Her.

If I fell asleep in his bed or pretended to she would come and get me.

Finally I had had enough and I told her I wanted a divorce.

Her reaction was to unleash Hell all at once

Instead of little by little like she had been doing for fifteen years or so.

I lost everything and just about everyone I had

But now if I get cut off in traffic

I just stare in wonder at the taillights

Of whoever feels they need to get somewhere before I do

Thinking about a time that feels like decades ago

But was much less than that

When I decided a life of boiling pasta alone in an echoing kitchen

Was better than a living death in a house filled with anger

And that final day that

It was as if I was Yertle the Turtle

And I sneezed down there

At the bottom of the stack

And that bitch came tumbling down.

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ANDREW HUBBARD – 2 POEMS

Sharing the Bathroom

I over-analyze everything

I know it’s true

(And you’ve told me enough times.)

But why on earth

Would I find it sexy

To watch you shave your armpits?

Knowing me you won’t be surprised

To find I made a list:

  • Because everything you do is sexy
  • Because you touch yourself

With such unconscious concentration

  • Because you say you do it

To look pretty for me

  • Because I love the smell of your hair
  • Because it’s something nobody else

Sees you do

  • Because it’s commonplace

And mysterious and intimate

All at the same time.

  • And because the lines of your raised arm,

Your neck, and your wrist

Make me think of a Rodin sculpture.

~

Turn Down the Lights

Hey, it was more than kind of you

To come home with me

And you so much younger

And thinner and all.

And I’ll do my best

Not to disappoint you.

Honest to God, if I disappoint you

I don’t think I’ll ever

Go to a bar again.

But hey I’m going to be honest,

Only because there’s no alternative:

I look better dressed,

So I’m going to turn down the lights.

Those horrible white curvey smiles

On the skin behind my thighs,

They’re from the hip replacements.

The thick-soled shoes

Just bring me back

To the height I used to be.

I joke that my ears pop

When I take them off,

But it’s not that bad.  Yet.

I’m not tearing my eyeballs,

I’m just taking off my contacts.

Hopefully you can’t see me

The same as I can’t see you.

Now excuse me, I’m going to the bathroom

To take some pills.

The flatulence ones work pretty well

And the little blue one

Had damn well better work.

What’s that look you’re giving me?

It better not be

The “I-made-a-mistake” look.

I have many fine qualities.

You said so yourself

Not two hours ago.

Now hang on,

I’ll be right back.

SEPTEMBER 2018

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Julia Gerhardt – The Invisible Stranger

The Invisible Stranger

I love lying,

in my own bed,

with my hands

stretched above my head

and my fingers barely touch one another—

as if they are unfamiliar,

as if they are unknown to the rest of me.

And now it’s not just a touch, but a graze,

an affectionate line drawn onto one finger

by the other.

I wait.

The line ends

and becomes a hook,

an unwillingness to part;

a stage to go through,

a grief.

I don’t want to let go

of the unfamiliar hand,

lying next to mine

The invisible stranger,

I hope to see again.

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Alexus Erin – MAKING SANDWICHES

Making Sandwiches

Me & my brain are making sandwiches for the first time in years
& I remember
I like sourdough. I wonder
whose hands made the bread & if this cooking,

this creation, is a kind of holiness. My brain laughs.
We’re having a sleepover on a school night
& I wonder
whose mother authorized it

By the grace of God
I am with my brain
& by the grace of God,
this brain’s a scrappy one

Which is to say, she is still sprinting: I’m impressed-
she did a lot of math this month. I joke that
she looks like she’s here
to eff the party up.

Brain tells Body (my body’s here too)
The first rule
of any effective love practice
is to synthesize its thoughtwork

with its bodywork: “Classic
substance-presence query, honeybee,” she sighs
& I know
that sigh was for me

I tell them, “First rule
of the big city
is to mind ya own damn business.” My body sets up
a cot at the foot of my bed

Gingerly removes her stockings, that they won’t rip
& I know
mishandling must be a violence
in which the body keeps score. She, of all people,

must be keeping score- I could stand
to learn a thing or two from this inclination
of tenderness, alone
My mouth, every morning,

famously reaching,
rooting ‘round any regional iteration of the daylight
To inhale a verbose evidence
& then exhale, like

my photosynthesis must be scheduled
to kick in any day now
As though this were the only thing
I knew how to do

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Douglas Collura – Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage

Her Third Date After a Twenty-Five Year Marriage

 

 

She says, “Look. The rain’s harder now.”

I say, “Yes, but the theater’s close.”

She thumbs a path across

her melting glass.

 

Her daughter in third-year law.

Her granddaughter a swan.

When did I say I believed

in anyone’s tomorrow?

 

Her cupped hands; lines

connect, curve, cross,

predict nothing. She stares

into the passing moment.

 

“I never thought I’d be this person,”

she says, “never this alone.

I’m afraid sometimes, though

it’s nice not to be second guessed.”

 

My bedroom a chaos of shadows.

She’s unsure what comes next.

Then her legs clamp my hips,

and her mouth finds my neck.

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John Dorroh – “It’s Probably More Than Colitis”

It’s Probably More Than Colitis”

I like a woman with a clean colon,

the way she starts telling stories

at the end

and works back toward the beginning,

expecting me to connect all the dots.

She takes her temperature every hour,

tells me the results, wants for me

to tie a knot with my swollen tongue

in her cherry

stem. The french kiss should have been

the second best clue

that we wouldn’t click, at least not like that.

I can cuddle like a fish with the best of them,

but sometimes we have to be satisfied

with a flag at half mast. You can always

use tulips to brighten the

room. We fidget in the clinic for an hour

before they call her name.

She refuses my hand, gives me an orange-lipped

piranha smile, and disappears into the

blue-white light.

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TIM STALEY – 2 GUZZLES 

2 GUZZLES ~ pronounced two ghazals

 

4.29.20

 

All this time I’ve been talking to myself:

meet me in the weightlessness between breath

 

The moon pouts and is unsure how to age

Which of our masks protects us from our thoughts? 

 

Eyeballs slither like the sliding glass door

heavy like shadows against the curtain

 

A fleck of gratefulness comes at what cost?

which one happens to correlate to you?

 

All my actions grease the slipping of time

as manufactured love crumples the foil

~

 

5.4.20

 

So a part of your blood I’ve already

fast forwarded your best intentions

 

Your family matters because they complain

but inches below the water they glow

 

The spilled milk is 14 billion years old

the space time continuum continues 

 

Like the Milky Way, be deliberate 

acknowledge the itch, but do it slowly

 

Yo! how much have you paid per square moment?!

My stomach is my own Magnum, P.I.

 

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