Laura M. Kaminski
F. John Sharp
F. J. Bergmann
about the editors
Chet Corey, Mike Coste, Mark Cunningham, Michael Estabrook, Howie Good, John Grey, Heikki Huotari, Brittany N. Jaekel, Jeff Kennedy, Sanjeev Sethi, Bill Yarrow, Mark Young
I hope those of you who were properly located on the planet got through the solar eclipse fine, with a sense of one's place in the local solar system and also with undamaged retinas. I live in a zone that was scheduled to experience a 93% obscuration at 1:32 PM. It was about 45 minutes late. A lot of people grumbled about the tardiness of the moon, but I pointed out that 45 minutes is about the average length of time a pretty famous rock band is late for an 8:00 PM concert. Also, who am I to say whether the moon or the sun was late for the rendezvous? Not me. I will leave that to astronomers like Bill Nye and the guy who does weather on the local ABC affiliate.
Even though it looked to me that we got the promised 93% magnitude eclipse, it did not get dark here. It got really quiet. There was a dog barking near where I was viewing the eclipse, but at the point at which the sun was 80% blocked, I could tell the dog was still barking by the spasmodic way she moved her head, but there was no sound coming out of her mouth. Children were screaming with excitement (except those who were screaming in panic), but no one could hear them. This caused their mothers to forget them and go to the mall without their kids. (But there was a bus full of social workers parked nearby ready to care for them, as this eclipse-induced maternal neglect had been observed in the total eclipse visible in Eastern Europe in 1921.) Also the dewpoint fell to crisp and salty -9 degrees C. Walls became transparent in nearby houses and I could see that Mr. Walters on Moss Brook Lane has a dentist fetish of some kind.
Shortly after the moon's shadow passed on to Georgia or someplace, the predicted second phase of the eclipse was visible to a brave few. There was no point in using safety equipment to view it because it can't be viewed safely. Those who choose to see it have to be prepared to make terrible sacrifices. This is the moment when the shadow of America moves across the surface of the sun.
Your editors, Laura M Kaminski (poetry and most of the work), F. John Sharp (fiction), F. J. Bergman (copy), Sina Evans (archives) and I hope you enjoy issue 114.
Brittany N. Jaekel
It's Better This Way
Ghost creeps in.
I keep snoring.
Brittany N. Jaekel
I, too, saw the whale
I, too, saw the whale, dressed in black knifing ocean water, breathing a glittering spray. Our vessel the earth was shouldering away from the light.
Imagine a whale suspended in the pitch. Imagine how many long nights have soaked into the sea.
I Would Give Up Another Night’s Sleep
for that whippoorwill
exhausting himself in love call
above our lean-to
somewhere west of St. Louie.
There are sharp edges that cut your fingers when you cling to them, long concavities that curl upwards until you’re flung into a free place, wide enough for fear, euphoria, second thoughts . . . a space where something is born that turns you wide-eyed in the curved belly of the moon, and you find yourself at a threshold, a wedge into something else, somewhere you can only get past by falling and falling and giving yourself over to the depravation of gravity, flying beyond what came before—a border that is, yet isn’t.
The Border That Changes Everything
A man’s dead. The gunmen got on the bus and shot people point-blank. What else could you have expected? They autopsied him as you would an ordinary body, took out his intestines, said, “Yup, it’s all there,” and put it back. We were standing outside, staring, just trying to see. I prayed so hard my knuckles were white. Today we go about things entirely differently. But the process, we can’t control it. There’s a silver Audi in the parking lot with the lights left on, and the tracks of gulls on beaches, and somebody who’s going to jump out of the ambulance, and we feel like it’s all in our heads.
After the Fourth
We were shooting fireworks, chilling, and then we saw the cops come. I remember thinking, “Do we belong here?” Here everyone is special, and so no one is, even the dead ones we love. Yesterday was supposed to be a holiday and a celebration. But just taking a picture of explosives bursting in the air doesn’t mean anything. The whole century suddenly came together for me as fat Elvis in cape and white jumpsuit.
The wind was dangerous. We knew it was dangerous, but people wouldn’t listen and more kept coming. They had a vacant stare. They had a stumbling gait. Their heads were drooping. You could see thick saliva dripping from their mouths. Soon they were screaming for help. We saw bodies everywhere. So many were just skeletons. I was standing behind that tree over there. I just kept thinking that it’s easy to run in a dream without getting out of breath.
None of it makes sense. It's like my legs have carried me here by themselves. We don't have a grasp on what the mechanism is yet. The real soldiers wear rags on their faces. I’m looking, but I don’t see my child. Things happen to people, and people don’t really understand how easily those things can happen. First they’re an animal, then they’re a volcano, then they’re playing with their cat, then they’re making songs, then they don’t finish the song and they’re jumping into the void from an elevated point.
__________. 1. reflection of light on a window or other transparent surface that prevents you from seeing what is on the other side. 2. a component in an electronic circuit that is introduced to provide a specific delay in transmitting the signal. 3. to consider zero a number.
__________. 1. tenuous but at times brilliant clouds observed during the midnight hours of the summer months in latitudes higher than 50°. 2. a long ocean swell that rises almost to breaking as it passes over shoals. 3. to dream of being in a musical.
__________. 1. a word you do not know how to spell, but whose spelling you can approximate enough to find in a dictionary. 2. the grayish marginal portion of a sunspot.
Lullaby and Be Afraid
When I attempt to imitate the opposites of animals the opposite of animals say, That's a wake-up call,
go back to sleep, and I did not just dream that and I
seriously doubt that flying buttresses have anything
to do with flying – look, the church's belly's
dragging on the ground!
Every time she shines in a sari
I inquire, how many? The query
gladdens her at many levels: she
has things to hide. Like an able
and acute hoarder she turns mealy-
mouthed, tightens her eyes, and
in silken drawl reviews with me
the menu of the day.
As he slows down the entire Starbucks’ operation
confused choosing his coffee, paying with cash
adding in sugar and cream, he wonders has life gotten faster or me slower realizing of course it’s both,
and that he can’t change either one.
If I Were a Horse
If I were a horse,
The first thing I would do is
Get people off my back.
It just seems so stupid to walk around
With someone on your back.
I would start by twitching or fidgeting
And if that didn’t work I would
Run under low-hanging branches.
Finally, if they didn’t get a hint I would
Roll around and squash them.
That would do the trick.
If I were a horse I would
Be in a can
Of dog food.
When she left she had
seven hundred dollars and two bags,
and a one-way ticket to Denver.
to imagine, I know.
With one of us tucked away
in the crook of her arm
and the other,
in her one free hand,
I have to wonder
how could she have
managed the baggage too.
But when I asked
it's just what mothers do.
Get a Grip
There's a hole in my brain
out of which pour all my
good impulses and so I sit
at the Table of Behavior
next to the Witch of Logic
who kicks me whenever
Lady Compassion bats her
eyes at me, so heed this:
whosoever talks with me
talks not with me but with
that part of me I resent
with all that's left
of my heart.
preparing for the baccalaureate
in the marshes of
in the marches of
in the manner of
the marquis de
he would take his
pet alligator for a
walk beside the Seine
& explain to it why
Queensbury & Tuscany
are not the same.
You Are Married to a Trucker
He can love you grueling coast to coast
or a quick delivery to a nearby town.
He can love you danger, explosives,
or crates of flowers, cases of beer.
So sleep sound as asphalt.
You're a road, a load on his mind, somewhere.
You Have Me
Whatever gives my life no meaning
I'm willing to ignore.
Stuck in traffic.
Being cursed at by a stranger.
A loud party next door.
That way when situations do have consequence,
I can value them fully.
Yes, I take this glass of wine seriously.
Your company is of such import,
if it were war
I'd send in all my troops.
So welcome to my full attention.
It is not going anywhere.
Chet Corey's poetry has previously appeared in RHP and most recently in the anthology The Other Side of Violet (great weather for MEDIA) and Windhover (U. of Mary-Harden Baylor). He is a lifelong Minnesotan.
Mike Coste recently had a poem published in the Burningword Literary Journal. He is a dean of instruction at Red Rocks Community College and has taught philosophy at the college level for over 25 years.
Mark Cunningham has a few books and chapbooks out, including nightlightnight (chapbook) and Scissors and Starfish (book) from Right Hand Pointing Books.
Michael Estabrook’s latest collection of poems is Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2016).
Howie Good is nothing but a dream.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Abyss and Apex, and Midwest Quarterly.
Heikki Huotari is a retired professor of mathematics. In a past century, he attended a one-room country school and spent summers on a forest-fire lookout tower. His first two collections of poems are to be published by Lynx House Press and After the Pause Press.
Brittany N. Jaekel is a graduate student at the University of Maryland studying hearing science and cochlear implants. Her work has previously appeared in Bird's Thumb and Burningword Literary Journal.
Jeff Kennedy is a Mexican-Canadian living in California where he writes code by day and poems by night. He believes in contradictions, diversity, and ehh-why-not.
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: Mad Swirl, Modern Poets Magazine, Olentangy Review, New Mystics, Yellow Mama, Serving House Journal, London Grip and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.
Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks, most recently We All Saw It Coming. Against Prompts, his fourth collection, is forthcoming from Lit Fest Press in 2018.
Mark Young's most recent books are bricolage, from gradient books, The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books, & some more strange meteorites, from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York. A limited edition chapbook, A Few Geographies, was recently released by One Sentence Poems as the initial offering in their new range.