Cindy St. Onge
Larry D. Thomas
Sarah J. Sloat
source photo by Mark Maldia.
The C Note
Dale Wisely, Editor-in-Chief
We’ve all had strange experiences with the Internet. You Google something and you find yourself looking at a link to a porn site that features models wearing helmets made out of raw meat. (Oh, don’t act like you haven’t seen that one.)
You get a Facebook account and find yourself “friends” with your 11th grade boyfriend AND the girl who bullied you mercilessly for years who is now a nun running a shelter in Honduras.
Or you make an order on amazon.com. You order a book of poems and then remember you need a roll of duct tape and you order that too and a box comes to your porch two days later with a book of poems and a roll of duct tape.
Twenty years ago I bought a pennywhistle and then started a website called Chiff & Fipple, dedicated to the instrument. It was good timing because about that time there was a huge wave of interest in traditional Irish music. It grew into a huge community of musicians that’s still online today.
Twelve years ago, I threw up 7 or 8 pieces of creative writing on the internet, called it Right Hand Pointing. It kind of picked up over time. Along the way, I was joined by an amazing team of editors, F. John Sharp, F. J. Bergmann, and Laura M Kaminski. Fine, generous, sensitive, gifted friends and colleagues.
I became an editor and friend to some of my favorite poets. I am tempted to name some of them, but I wouldn’t know where to quit, and I’d leave some people out.
There are poets who entrust their work to us, who still send us their work even though they typically publish in more prestigious venues. (Granted, the number of journals more prestigious than RHP is declining. In the last couple of years, almost everything I read in that rag The Paris Review had been rejected by RHP.) But we're also almost as moved to get a submission from a high school student as from, say, Corey Mesler, who appears in this issue in the same year he landed a poem in POETRY. I said almost.
So. There you go. This is issue #100. That's a really round number. It's significant in mathematics. I would explain that to you except space doesn't permit it and it involves math.
I’m keeping this short. I am blessed and grateful. I thank my co-editors. We thank our readers, our contributors, and everyone who submits their work to us.
P.S. That thing about amazon.com and a book of poems a duct tape? True story. It was me! That thing about meat helmet porn? I made that up.
Notes on Creation
We love the look
of the body, the apple
in his pocket. The idea
of dropping blossoms
must be discussed
with the safety people.
Rarely do floating things
land directly below.
We would like to discuss
the size of a normal head.
This head is too small.
We need details,
Very few are aware
of exactly how tight it is
in the heavens.
(found poem from rehearsal notes on a production of Cymbeline)
You Kept the Bed
and I bought a brand-new
beauty that felt so good
in the shop, that satiny
expanse, strange peace
of lying alone
while the salesman watched,
a clipboard in his hand.
Awake as electricity,
I feel the square weather tightening
the velocity of my room.
I’ve got a ghost camera in my head.
It helps me to organize my nouns and verbs,
adjust my short-term memory.
My brother, Bob, says I’ve been cleaving
to within an inch of my life.
Says I should check myself in.
I guess he’s right.
Swan meat is no longer considered a delicacy.
Bob said, Don’t worry Miles,
it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Nearly everyone could benefit from a better diet.
Besides, hear that thunder?
Even the sky tears itself apart
to get rain.
The worst of it is, when I close my eyes now, I nearly forget what you looked like. Your back turned to me, your departure, a misshapen blur. Bags already packed and in the car, you left so quietly, without protest or complaint. At the door, the dog, its head bowed, obediently waited for a beating.
A Good Day on Stanage
My hands are numb with cold
but they are dry, too,
and tiny crystals in the gritstone
give my fingertips grip,
and I climb
a grade I've never climbed.
Later, etched into the pads of my fingers,
like runic inscriptions,
signs of how it was done.
Is this your career?
Get a real job!
Writing postcards doesn't count!
Turn up the television.
Anyone can do it.
I don’t get it.
The window has shut.
Don't you even care?
Success depends upon money!
Asides must be dumped.
Your house is burning.
We're out of vodka.
Your document is blank.
It’s a good start.
Based on entries in “Spoil a Writer's Mood in 4 Words” contest,
Cindy St. Onge
At the End of Rabies
Your throat is a limestone quarry
refusing its own spit.
The parched basin is motionless
but for momentary spasm.
Your eyes widen as if
to drink from the cool
silver memory of water,
but to lap is to drown and
froth and tears are wasted
in this poverty of fluid.
Eyes continue to thirst
trying so hard to receive
what your throat can’t swallow.
Cindy St. Onge
From land’s end to the shoals
where the dream fades
and the ocean rushes in
to wake you.
Black tide, killing time,
it’s waiting for you.
So step out of the story and
leap over its wide, blue face.
Right over those sleeping,
and over those drowning,
unashamed of the extravagance
of knowing how and when.
My Father, Driving
He drove so slow, Death
got out to walk.
* * *
It saves on cleaning,
because he doesn’t raise dust.
* * *
Everybody was so friendly;
they all waved, but real
cool-like with just one finger.
* * *
Sometimes, he liked to race old
Grampa Taylor; he usually
won now that Grampa was dead.
* * *
Hard to tell if he’s going
forwards or backwards until
someone lays on the horn.
* * *
When the horizon comes up
too fast, he gets scared he might
fall off the Earth and miss supper.
On the way to the store, the gloom exploded
in yellow flashes, an infinity of butterflies.
I stood guard in the narrow, curvy road
the rich kids liked to fly down as you danced
in the wing-shower beside a puddle. I wanted
to go. The world is too bright and beautiful to bear
sometimes. I hope you never learn this. At one end
of the puddle, we saw wings with no bodies, and then
eyes—a frog collecting breakfasts that paused
in their swirling meditation—watching us
from his lucky spot. Even this was a blessing.
The door is a metaphor
The door is a metaphor.
My knocking on it
a dead end.
Some part of me doesn’t
believe in the
door. Some other part of
me keeps knocking.
If you can hear it, be still.
If you can hear it, be, still.
I am the male child
I am the male child
unsure of things,
tools, cars, baseballs.
My father, be-
fuddled by his
second born, was
was his strength:
patience. I even-
tually grew up. I
became a man.
It was a long course
and I faltered
often. These things
I am now sure of:
wife, children, and
the importance of
these dark marks
against the marked darkness.
Larry D. Thomas
Just beyond her reach,
the parts of a mobile
revolve in silent orbits
like the brightly colored
disks of distant planets,
circling a make-believe sun.
Outside her window,
a sightless moon
with the cool,
of closed blinds.
She is wide-eyed,
spellbound by the addition
and subtraction of breathing,
rapt as a mathematician
solving the long
division of her cells.
Get out. Watch and listen.
Make the most of wind and rain.
Lie on grass, count waves
or stars - not here with all this
paper. I know someone
who'll teach you local names
for birds, plants, insects.
Try them on your tongue:
slaters. That's the stuff.
Forget the Greek and Latin.
When it sounds like earth beneath your feet,
you'll know, and only then -
the track you're on will take you
where you need to be.
It was the perfect afternoon to buy gold rings
And the man could not pick
One band for a finger
So, he stood at the edge of the store
Stretched his right hand with four rings to the light
The midday sun landed slightly above each knuckle
The man, bedazzled
It was as extraordinary as the collapse, the shattered glass
And his feet that carried him far
Long after the shaking had stopped
Even the man did not see his one hand pointing to the sky
Right Hand Pointing
He is uprooting the bean stalk
to find the magic beans
He couldn’t put the golden eggs back
or resuscitate the hen
But he is meeting the old man again
Bringing home the cow that is barren
He is returning the giant’s feet into the sky
like a tarp
across your feet: stiff
and gray. The sun
shirt. A folded
on the inside of your hat brim
like a clock.
In the airport bar, of course,
you think of lions, with their tongues
rough as a girl’s bare
unshaved legs, with their bodies
taut and firm
and their hearts
so much smaller
than you’d hoped.
After the Lion Hunt
The ivory that is almost grey.
The cool that could pass for cold.
Seven winds delivered in one gust
in the afternoon cut short by dark.
Isn’t the lack of distinction sometimes too much?
And then the craze for being grateful.
Let me go off-script, and
play the jaded femme fatale.
Except for my book of Patchen poems
I don’t feel grateful at all.
Sarah J. Sloat
I must admit this got my attention,
from the other wreckage at the dump.
I’d never noticed such
a something, though the junkman lumped it
among the oldest inventions.
Extracted from a heap of knick
knacks long lapsed
into obsolescence, it stood decrepit.
Its nails bent, yes, but still sharp, still biting.
What madman fathered this,
I wondered, twirling
it creaking around its hinges.
Not the most practical
contraption, I thought, bending
over to haul it home.
Sarah J. Sloat
dreams aren't prophetic.
they’re about your last dinner.
in my dream I had a gun
but no one got shot.
it was a paperweight securing
Important Papers from the ceiling fan.
idiot country is where
I sometimes think we live.
a cup of coffee
followed by a nap.
no traitors but
treachery all around.
my daughter is the first
and only of her kind.
let’s abandon cynicism.
I'll explain my love for
you by not explaining at all.
beat the drum
There is a familiar song
in the middle of the forest. It is
Saturday morning and G-d
rests. The trees
are silent testimony
to past movement, the clouds
to the one coming.
In the autumn of that year
the world reclined in its rocking chair
It had grown old and lost its teeth
and shed its hair
forgotten its name
forgotten where the sun rises
and how to turn
where to turn
And the string of time
like an ancient umbilical cord
looped in on itself
hungrily made history
without knowing its purpose
twiddled their idle thumbs
and some shook hands, ruffled their feathers
Parting curtains so light struts reinforced the walls
I studied the segmented heads of Phrenology
showing the areas of resident competencies
Petulance right next to Self-righteousness
I knew redundancy was meant for assurance
but then I discovered a whole earth on a pedestal
in Michael’s room another in the library
It was like finding night and day hidden
many times in a wall switch or seeing aquaria
as spare rooms of ocean with yellow tangs angels
Pittosporum was a lung with bronchia buds alveoli
some kind of bee whose stinger pulsed with my heart
The more I learned the more I saw right through me
feathers and all I felt heart was the organ of memory
By heart I could say and have it play Samuel Barber
and Eliot’s Quartets
Frightening clothing strung on a wire
pieces that altogether make a man
hung like a message a distress
pulled from one window to another
arms out pleading legs limp as rags
What could have happened in that apartment
and what have they done with the body
CL Bledsoe is the author of a dozen books, most recently the poetry collection Riceland and the novel Man of Clay. He’s had two RHP chapbooks: Goodbye to Noise and Tulsa. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize thirteen times, Best of the Net a couple times, had a couple stories selected as Notable Stories of the year for Story South’s Million Writers Award, had hundreds of stories, poems, essays, plays, etc. published all over, and his grandmother thinks he’s a handsome boy. CL Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.
Anuja Ghimire is from Kathmandu, Nepal. She has published creative nonfiction and poetry in more than 30 journals in the U.S., Nepal, and Canada. She writes in English and Nepali. A 2015 Pushcart nominee, she lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and two little girls. Anuja works as an editor/publisher in the e-learning industry and writes poetry.
Howie Good's work has appeared in, on, or at Right Hand Pointing since very near the beginning 12 years ago. And, he's been known to publish a poem or two now and then in other publications. He loves Bob Dylan.
Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco co-edits One Sentence Poems and is an ardent admirer of rain, though these things are unrelated. Her chapbook, Various Lies, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and Esquire/Narrative. This allows Right Hand Pointing to appear in the same bio as Poetry and Five Points. He has published 8 novels, 4 short story collections, and 5 full-length poetry collections. His new novel, Memphis Movie, is from Counterpoint Press. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and 2 of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife he runs a 145-year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at https://coreymesler.wordpress.com
Amy Miller’s poetry has appeared in Nimrod, Rattle, Right Hand Pointing, Willow Springs, and ZYZZYVA. Her chapbooks include Rough House (White Knuckle Press) and I Am on a River and Cannot Answer (BOAAT Press, forthcoming). She works as the publications manager for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and blogs at writers-island.blogspot.com.
Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has had poems published in Magma, Shadow Train, NOON, Fat Damsel, Obsessed with pipework, Snakeskin, The Journal, Ink Sweat and Tears, Word Riot, Camroc Review, elimae and Alba. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary-Jane Newton was born in India and grew up in Germany. She is the author of two poetry collections, Of Symbols Misused (2011) and Unlocking (2013), both published by Proverse Hong Kong, and her work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies internationally. Her third collection of poems, Cruel Little Bird (OrientOccident Press), is forthcoming in 2017. She is the Publishing Manager at Macmillan Publishers China and currently lives in Hong Kong with her husband and daughter.
Brad Rose was born and raised in southern California, and lives in Boston. He is the author of Pink X-Ray. Links to his poetry and fiction, which appear in print and on-line, can be found at: http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/
Philippe Shils has had poems published in Underground Books, Stirring, and elsewhere. A chapbook is available from the fine folks at Right Hand Pointing.
Sarah J. Sloat lives in Frankfurt, Germany, a stone’s throw from Schopenhauer’s grave. Her poems have recently appeared in Radar and The Journal.
Cindy St. Onge is a multimedia poet who’s poetry has recently appeared in Dappled Things, Timberline Review, and VoiceCatchers.
Allan Peterson is the author of five books, most recently Precarious (42 Miles Press 2014), a finalist for The Lascaux Prize; Fragile Acts (McSweeney's Poetry Series), a finalist for both the 2013 National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards; and multiple chapbooks, including three from Right Hand Pointing. Forthcoming from Tupelo Press is Other Than They Seem, winner of the 2014 Snowbound Chapbook Prize. His work has ben published in Ireland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Wales. He lives in Ashland, OR and Gulf Breeze, FL. www.allanpeterson.net
Ray Templeton's poetry has appeared recently in Right Hand Pointing and Eclectica. If you happen to be passing the Gibraltar Castle pub in Batford, Hertfordshire, England, on a Tuesday evening, you might hear him sing a few of his songs (they do a nice pint of Fuller's London Pride, too).
Larry D. Thomas lives in west Texas and is a former poet laureate of Texas. Larry's work has appeared many times on this website. His tenth—that's right—tenth chapbook from RHP is Jake & Violet.
Guy Traiber is currently so busy with the end-of-the-year exams he even dares to forget the submitting rules of RHP. He has just sent out his first-ever manuscript and is very excited about it all. He is in love.
Coming up in Issue 101: Poems about airline meals.