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Issue 105
RECONSIDERING ORANGE

 

 

Rose Mary Boehm, Monica Flegg, Robert Ford, Daniel E Haislet, Laura Hanna,

Cal LaFountain, Erin Leigh, Todd Mercer,

Brad Rose, Joyce Schmid, Larry D. Thacker,

Lindsey Thäden, Abigail Van Kirk,

Bonnie Rae Walker, Les Wicks, Linda S. York,

Mark Young

  

 

Dale Wisely, Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 

The Note

1. What's your favorite kind of science?

 

a. Climatology

b. Physics

c. Economics

d. Political Science

 

The correct answer is (d) Political Science. 

 

2. What is the color of shame?

 

a. Scarlet

b. Black

c. Rainbow

d. Orange

 

The correct answer is (d) Orange.

 

 

3. 

 

 

Air Force One leaves the United States of America traveling slower than the speed of reason, growing smaller and more dense as it flies. First it takes Manhattan, then it takes Berlin. It navigates by smell. If it accelerates at a rate equivalent to the annual average increase in sea level, when will it return to us?

 

a.The Last Thanksgiving 
 

b.Closing time at a bar in Indianapolis.

c.When America is stripped naked and made to stand before our mothers and fathers and our mothers' and fathers' ghosts.

d.When we tell our children good night (and we mean it so much more that night) and we close the door quietly, walk out in the yard and watch the moon, all the roundness there is to see and all the rust.

 

My thanks to all the contributors to this issue of Right Hand Pointing who entrust their art to us. As always, my love and thanks to my friends and colleagues F. J. Bergmann, F. John Sharp, and Laura M Kaminski.

 

 

Dale

 

click on the hand to continue.

 

 

 

 

Todd Mercer

 

Waterbaby

Ingenue wasn’t born conventionally, says her story.

She stepped out of the surf onto terra firma,

never lost the feeling of the tides. She arrived

originally naïve, ready to be amazed. Ready.

A clear breath of air, a fresh face, a vector

for active curiosity among jaded idealists

of late-stage whatever society is these days.

It seems she hatched from breakers fully formed.

She made methods of remaining forever open

to simple beauty where she sees it, to meaty irony.

Ingenue through all her years somehow stays new,

whirls giddy when waves lap her ankles,

not that you or I could see those waves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Mercer

 

Interior. Tito's  Hacienda—Evening 

The revolver smokes, blood slurry spreads on a checkerboard floor. The shooter delivers his catchphrase, steps out of the scene. He leaves like nothing happened, retreats to his backlot trailer, decompresses. They’re filming out of sequence. Tomorrow the shooter and the bleeder will meet, become brothers. Yesterday—both funerals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Mercer

 

 

Flashing Neon Arrow 

It isn’t always obvious. You don’t

come across Robert Johnson leaning

on a road sign, strumming devil-music

to show the nature of the bargain.

When deciding which fate to pursue,

it might help if Robert Frost

stood where paths diverge, pointing,

if there was a stripe on the right trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel E Haislet

 

 

After The Lodger Had Passed 

             ~After Billy Collins

I found a blunt, old, beaten sword

On the pathless side of a low stone wall

And used it to pound my river into an ocean

Then drank from my ocean down to its skin

 

I ground the skin into a silky blue powder

That I carried with me in a sack

Swinging from the point of my blunt old sword

To the mountains at the edge of the valley

 

Where I fanned the foothills with sheer blue hue

So it matched that evening's twilight seamlessly.

I collected the scene, folded in thirds,

and sent it into space in an envelope. 

 

The ad said wait six to eight weeks 

To receive my X-ray specs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Mary Boehm

Postcard from Peru

The wood sold to the Chinese, permission

given to build adobe houses in the ravines

between deforested peaks. Heavy rains

in the foothills of the Andes. Mudslides

disappear houses, people, infants, trucks.

Next year we’ll see the same. Wrecked faces

will beg again for help from the gullies

of ignorance. The authorities conspicuous

by their absence. Wish you were here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abigail Van Kirk

Untitled #4

Delicately undoing my sister’s ashen curls

in the same way I am picked apart by this world

in hopes of something more lovely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joyce Schmid

 

Dinner

Just eat.

Thunder heavy in the air

and lightning bolts about to strike

mother broiling hot and getting bigger

father melting in the corner, smaller, smaller

now the lightning smashes down but not at me yet

I’m just eating eating food food food

no hunger and no taste just food

and nothing else but food

nothing but the plate.

Just eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Rose

 

A Merman Asks a Biblical Question

The waves’ teeth gnaw the shore.  

Eyes closed, I count my scales.

At what point does a thing become itself

and not itself?   

Starlight, always younger than its time,

I am my own origin.  

 

For some, life is like swimming the Atlantic

without getting wet;

for others, the most pleasurable drowning.  

Everything begins and ends with the sea.  

Tell me, what was Adam and Eve’s surname?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Young

the effect of lipstick on a city circle bus driver

Bikes slide through the streets dodging doors & inflexible pedestrians. Sometimes, at night, the inmates sit in a circle & talk about their homes or about the brilliant star cluster mowed down in its stroller by a drunk 72-year-old female driver who fled the scene. There is a semi-circle of scarlet on the sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Young

Foregone Cage

Unlike other ducks,

the muscovy has a

single perfect cleavage

along which it splits

in intuitive partheno-

genesis. It is

a fixed cost, a

kind of music hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Young

every little breeze

Okay. Just when I've got everything done I had to do, & have decided to go downstairs & crank up the volume on the stereo gizmo as background to doing the things I want to do, the wind changes, & along comes Maurice Chevalier & we end up doing duets in a phony French accent & I am so embarrassed, not because there's anything strange about launching into song & dance routines, complete with canes, in a redneck town, but because my straw boater has seen better days & is definitely off-color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonnie Rae Walker

Knackered Man 

Gordon turned a right, allowing the wheel to slide through his hands. He liked that, the skim of steering wheel against palm. A yellow square of thrown-open barn doors signaled through the dark.


Swinging his truck and trailer into a three-point turn, he backed to the barn's mouth. Stepping out of the cab, Gordon took off his hat, throwing it onto the threadbare seat. It was manners, a sign of respect.
 

He entered and called out. It was the stall with the trail of straw running from closed doors, lots of feet in and out during the night. But he called outpeople don’t like being startledand a woman answered.

 

Gordon slid open the stall door. An old brown horse lay dead, its ribs and pelvis pushing out with age. Not meat then, too old, too far dead. Maybe hide and hooves. Maybe meat, if things were slow, but probably not.


The woman straightenedbrown hair, brown pantsand reached out to shake his hand. She whispered a rush of words about the price for hauling the carcass, where it would go, what, how. A girl slept in the cornerblonde hair, brown pants covered in straw.
 

Don’t want to wake her, her mother smiled. Gordon nodded, pretending to know all about that.
 

The horse was loaded by the time the girl woke up. She slept through it being dragged into the aisle and she slept while the metal groaned and popped, but she woke before he could drive away. The money was in his wallet and he latched the trailer door.

 

Gordon turned to walk to his truck and stopped. The girl stood in the light of the yellow square, straw in her blonde hair. Gordon blushed as she cried, telling him to stop, to wait, while mother hugged her and told him to go, and thank you.


He hesitated, looking at the shadowed figure of the girl and her mother bent over her. Stepping forward, Gordon thought he would tell the girl something to stop her crying. Something nice. His face twisted into a smile. Something nice. He opened his mouth.


Mother stared at him like a cat. Blonde girl still pleaded. And Gordon went, his back curving like a question mark.


Never pretended to know all about that. He shook those thoughts from his head but the girl’s voice clung like straw, sticking to his eyes and face, forcing him to blink, stuffing his nose.


Never pretended to know anything about that. He got into the truck and watched the yellow square recede in his side mirror. Gordon turned a left, his hands gripping the wheel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Les Wicks

Formal Dining

I have believed poetry to be superior cutlery, the

bitter knife, the swoon.

It sits unsold in the google store because

sharp things

forget their place, should not be mailed, their

disgrace. I have maimed with a

bloodstained, scoured writer’s block

but the damage was all to myself.

 

I’m always inviting them

& the guests sometimes don’t show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda S. York

Tween

I crawled into her bed and carefully snaked my way under the tubes and wires that tethered Mama to this earth and wrapped my twelve-year-old arms around her, hung on to her life and prayed to have her take me with her when she died.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Hanna

The Electrical Current of Dust

Before they fixed your hair

for the funeral, I touched

it the way birds would touch

their tongues together.

Your body was clothed

in stillness so unreal

I wanted to push you

off the table just to watch

you move again.

the scent of kumquats

and rosemary sanitized away,

I tried to imagine that you

had not reached

eternal separation

from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cal LaFountain

 

Milli's Pardon

Milli Teague knew the burglar came each dark at 1:11 a.m., that from the frivolity of its patters, was adolescent, and that it had a penchant to leave things half-done. If they’d been her pantries to swipe, she too would forget to correct the labels’ facings. In the closets and basements of Milli Teague’s imagined bout of urban burglary, she also marred knobs with her grease, loosed tubs & tins from their usual nooks, and discarded sound as a layer of the world perceived by human sense.
 

The burglar’s appetite was expansive. Mornings after its visits, the kitchen bereft of content, Milli Teague began her day with a visit to the grocer’s. She’d buy up those items that the burglar, in its hasty reach, favored mostextra cottage cheese, extra potato bread. Extra many pickles.


Alongside fumbles & bungles, heedless inhales morphed to coughs enough to wake the cul-de-sac's tender geriatrics. The burglar, with its undeveloped faculties of stealth and dexterity, fed a forthright, undefined empathy in Milli Teague.  She measured desperation, not malice, as the impetus that bound the burglar to its thefts.


One night the red/blue beams of laws enforced lit Milli Teague’s bedroom.


She fingered curtains leftward to expose a perpetrator cuffed in the Robinsons' side yard. Milli Teague observed the burglar’s meager resistance. That dainty nymph she’d let return dark after dark now displayed a writhe

attuned to her own.


Then, the food labels faced typically, boxes held their places. Knobs retained their sheen. Milli Teague catered not for the burglar’s, but her own relief, a buffer to her alone, that near burden hers always to heave & to hack, never burglarized at 1:11 a.m. or any other configuration of dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Ford

 

Wee Lachlan at five

You can’t imagine the time he’ll be an old man,

and spend warm evenings folded into park benches,

 

cursing the aches that crept up unannounced, wiping

a brow whose furrows grew when no-one was looking.

 

His face will have become an onion, cheeks weathered,

and his nose broadened, all skirmished with veins.

 

The mustard hair will long have turned bone-white,

but his eyes will have stayed the same giveaway blue

 

as his superhero cape. With luck, the smile will still be

written through him, like his name threading a stick of rock.

 

 

 

on the best days
i sing you to sleep,
and you say
my art is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iceberg

 

 

 

Erin Leigh