HOLLY DAY – BLUE CAR

Blue Car

The car appeared outside the house, as if by magic

dropped from the sky into a pile of snow, tire tracks obliterated by fresh snow.

A sleeping bag blocked the back window completely, candy wrappers

could be seen on the front seat.

After a couple of days, my neighbor came over and asked me if it was my car

if I wouldn’t mind moving it so that her nephew could park there. I told her

how the car had just appeared in that spot, and that I didn’t think anyone

had come back for it since its arrival, although

I thought I saw a couple of people sitting in the front seat very late the night before

hands frantically moving in the dim overhead light

but it may have been a dream.

A week or so later, a tow truck came and got the car, probably called by my neighbor

the one who came over or perhaps a different one entirely

the spot where the car had been parked was black and green with oil and antifreeze

dirty snow and a couple of smashed beer cans. I watched the car get pulled

backwards down the street, waited for a door to fling open angrily

in the car or in a neighboring house, but no one came out after the car

no one chased the truck frantically down the street.

 

 

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Michael Lee Johnson – OPEN EYES LAID BACK

Open Eyes Laid Back

 

Open eyes, black-eyed peas,

laid back busy lives,

consuming our hours,

handheld devices

grocery store

“which can Jolly Green Giant peas,

alternatives,

darling, to bring home tonight-

these aisles of decisions.”

Mind gap:

“Before long apps

will be wiping our butts

and we, others, our children

will not notice.”

No worries, outer space,

an app for horoscope, astrology

a co-pilot to keep our cold feet

tucked in.

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Heather Sager – 2 POEMS

The Smokestacks of the Country

And my aunt, a farmer’s daughter,
did not live past 64.
And neither did her brother,
cancer-ridden also.
My farmer grandfather died, heartbroken,
a wheezing lung-diseased hunchback,
before aunt and uncle hit 40.

And the smokestacks of the country
still descend from below the clouds
to settle on the green hills
of the valley.
They puff invisibly, raining destructive chemicals
over the farms and people.
Puffing as they’ve always been
with the newest developments.

People in the neighboring valley,
too, have died.
From cancer of the brain
that afflicts dairy farmers
as well as the diseases
of the pancreas and lung
that affect them.

I lived on that farm.
After Grandpa lost it, Mom and Dad moved in.
A lynx once bit my brother
and the snows were wild
as the old farmhouse cellar was menacing.
Full of potatoes and the odd spiders, blasé-beige,
ball-shaped.
I thought the valleys so green
where I hiked for days and days
as clouds passed from one aisle of the sky
to another.
Little did I know
about the smokestack chemicals
hidden in the sky.
That truth
came out with the bodies, the funerals,
that sudden dismay.

I remember, too, the bees—
giant ones, with Homeric stingers—
and the nests, basketball sized,
humming in the idyllic trees
near the clear stream
where crayfish, perhaps,
still swim.

No, I am incorrect.
The chemical chimeras puff no more.
All the farms are dead.
The suburbs have expanded
and there is hardly any green left
to wander in. The chemicals have moved elsewhere,
into a craftier form.
The stream is paved over,
the field of mustard grass
blazed for new developments.

Was the wild ever really there,
or only in our hammering,
kept, dreaming hearts?

 

~

 

The Way

I neared bliss the way
coins
drop skyward from an open hand
I neared bliss
the way a gambler
lassos
his bartered pride
I neared bliss the way
airborne geese
circled your land
I neared bliss the way
your lips
touched mine

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ELAINE WEBSTER – BORDERLINE

Borderline

 

Quiet along the border,

Stars and moon reflect on water,

Who would have guessed the effect Power had,

On woman, man, and beast?

 

Six hundred fifty miles,

Not long enough to stop the mix,

Of peoples, of places, of life.

Must build stronger and longer,

Wider and higher until the heavens can’t see,

The love of a boy and girl,

Divided at the Borderline.

 

Katrina learned early to be silent,

When asked about family.

She joked about her father wolf,

Uncle coyote and mother earth.

Shy smiles and giggles hid the fears,

That invaded her nighttime dreams.

 

Dash worked cattle and lived to ranch.

He’d seen them take the water,

From here and put it there.

The Power knew nothing

Of natural flows and the thirst,

The thirst of creation.

 

“Buenos Dias,” she said one morning,

To a pickup and a cowboy hat.

Kat knew better than to smile big,

The way he did, with such swag.

 

“Good morning,” he boasted,

Chest out and head high.

“Dash and Kat have a good ring,

Don’t you know?”

They met at sunset in a cabin,

In the shade of the Borderline.

The morning brought a sense of place.

Kat spied a wolf couple and two pups,

Through the pane-less window.

“Dash, that will be us,” she whispered.

“Kat, then let it be,” he answered.

 

Bingo came under a full moon,

His eyes filled with shooting stars.

No wonder he grew so tall,

So fast; to see beyond the Borderline.

 

The night the ICE-men came for Kat,

Dash and Bingo had no choice.

They stood back as the van took their own,

And howled in despair.

 

Soon many joined the pack,

Peering through the wall of fences.

At the Borderline both sides ran the gamut,

Back and forth in emotional and physical despair.

 

The wall extended further,

By the decree of Power.

Families divided—couldn’t get through.

Except to touch snouts or fingers,

Before the Borderline militia threatened,

With freedom denied or death.

 

“There have been walls like this,

Built to deny and control,” said Dash.

“Yes, I know and they did not last,” Bingo pondered,

With the strategy bouncing in his head.

“We will bring Kat and Los Lobos home,

On the next full moon.”

 

The Power ordered a cover-up,

Of how a Dreamer could be deported.

Kat faced the Press from her refuge,

In the church near the Borderline.

She could see the wall of fences,

From the pain-filled window of her soul.

 

Dash and Bingo gambled all they had,

To spread the word of wrongs to be righted.

Their travels took them places,

Where anyone would listen to the pleas of families divided.

No one knows how it happened,

How a Wolf Pack and a Mujer came to Power.

The Press swarmed the White House lawn,

To report the confrontation between Ruler and Ruled.

Bingo led the Mass of People—

Until they filled the World with new understanding.

He stood tall and saw Beyond the Borderline.

~

Find Elaine online here. 

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John C. Krieg – The Bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The Bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The bells of

The Mission Santa Ysabel

Ring no more

To most parishioners still living

They never have rang in their lifetimes

Being stolen in 1925

The whereabouts of the bells are unknown

Yet it’s expected

That this was an inside job

And that the bells are holed up

Not very far away

Forgotten about in some old shed or barn

The parishioners pray

That this is true

That God will work a mid-level miracle

And see to the safe return of the bells

In 1700 Peter the Great

Of Russia

Melted down all of his homelands’

Church bells

To make cannons for warfare

They fired church bell cannon balls

Which killed people

Did they suffer a holy death

That granted them immediate entrance

Into the kingdom of Heaven

Was this the fate of the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Have remained silent

As to their whereabouts

And to what they may be mixed-up in

The hostage syndrome

They identify with their captors

And don’t try to escape

Who would steal church bells

What kind of a low-life would do such a thing

You would think that they would feel guilty

Every time they heard a church bell ring

Wracked with inconsolable guilt

And with every ding-dong

That ever reached their ears

For the rest of their lives

Cringing on Sundays

At the noon day

At quitting time

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Ring no more

For us

But for their captors

They ring all the time

Clanging out “Thief, thief, thief!”

It must be tough to hold up

Under that kind of condemnation

God must have a hand in this

He keeps the thieves names on His black list

Nothing good could ever come of this

Those bells are surely missed

There’s only one way to escape eternal damnation

Bring back the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Buy your way out of hell

God’s not buying what you have to sell

And one can never tell

When things will no longer go so well

Someday the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will chime in joyous rapture

Across the Santa Ysabel Valley

Summoning parishioners to appear

And perhaps shed some tears

Over the long-awaited return of the bells

God being in his Heaven

And all being right with the world

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Don’t ring currently

But even a blind man can see

That God will put an end to this travesty

He will solve the mystery

The bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will once again clang loudly

Ding, dong

No longer gone

The bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will clang loudly

Over the Santa Ysabel Valley

God being in His Heaven

And all being right with the world

Ding

Dong

Ding

Dong

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R.T. CASTLEBERRY – 2 POEMS

IMPRESSIONS OF THE SICK HOUSE

I watch in the world,
amused by massacre and gin,
homeland walls, holiday wars.
Viewed from the barred gate
darkened surveillance cars prowl,
aimless under winter afternoon skies.
Cold weather tramps straggle past
construction generators, pavement gaps,
work order water leaks.
I take into consideration
the symbolic and the sin.
I deny memories useless to me—
week-long binges, wives I’ve cheated with.
Unsettled by panic attack, I leave
a dark bedroom for couch and cable tv.
Lessons located in news video,
detention gangs scour migrant dives,
mercados, work warehouse.
I look away, watch the ceiling fan
swirl shadow circles on the blinds.
In jeans, a Steely Dan tour tee shirt,
almost ready for silence,
I allow days clear of music.

 

~

 

SLIVERS
After Creeley’s The Flower
 
I think I layer tensions
like bottles shattered
in ditches the thirsty
refugee hides.
 
Each faulting gesture
blocks breath,
catches in my chest,
cracks knees in a fall.
 
Tension is a wasting blade
It slices that one
and that one
and that one.
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LANCE GAMBRELL – POSTCARD FROM PHANTOM RANCH

Postcard from Phantom Ranch

The sights of the inner canyon are breathtaking. Color changing rocks, reflecting the rays of the sun. Each layer opens a chapter of the Earth’s history, and with our friends Merrell, Kelty & MSR we travel back in time. The rocks around me can be as old as 1.8 billion years in age. FYI – A billion seconds is 31 years! But now, in this moment of time, I am on the screened-in porch of the bunkhouse; listening to the wind play with the leaves of the cottonwoods! Join me for a trip next year!

Tonight’s inner canyon menu:
personal Caesar salad,
backpacked steak,
Tecate X4.

wish you were here,
Lance

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