Issue 115, The Rain Will Never End, is guest-edited by José Angel Araguz. We're fans of José's work. We've published a good number of his poems over the years and proudly published two digital chapbooks of his Naos poems. We are happy to present this issue he edited and even happier to announce that José is joining us as an Associate Editor. Welcome José!
Now that I have Laura Kaminski keeping up with our submissions and reading them with me, F. John Sharp reading fiction (for the last 12 years or so), F. J. Bergmann proofing the text, and now José on board to help read poetry, my plan is to just wander around the office with a mug of coffee urging people to go ahead and get those TPS reports in by the end of the month. And make sure they use the new cover sheets. Because that would be g-r-e-a-t.
Right Hand Pointing is now 13 years old and, as you know, 13-year-olds can be a handful. Let's talk to the experts about how to handle a 13-year-old journal.
My 13-year-old literary journal wants to spend all its time with peers. What happened to hanging out with its editors?
It's appropriate for teen-aged literary journals to want to spend more time with their peer journals than their editors as they get older. Our goal in raising journals is for them to become independent, and that means they need to test their wings by moving out into the world. The key for us editors is to simultaneously affirm our 13-year-old journals' need to push for their distinctive literary identities, while restricting that push just enough to keep them in appropriate bounds, for safety purposes.
How can I know if my 13-year-old literary journal's development is normal?
At this age, journals feel like they are being watched and judged.
Thirteen-year-old journals like to challenge intellectual and social authority.
They are quite concerned about their image and often are desperate to be like all the other journals their age. They often are obsessed with being "cool."
Their self-esteem is vulnerable and can seem at times to be at a low-ebb.
They often do not think their editors know what they are feeling. They also often think their editors don't know what they are doing.
Around this age, many journals will start spending a lot of time in the shower. Don't ask.
Some editors may note warning signs of serious behavioral or emotional problems in their 13-year-old journals. If this is true for your journal, seek help right away. This is just the start of the teenage journal years. We'll need to help each other through them.
We hope you enjoy the issue!
the rain will never end
Sudhanshu Chopra, Chet Corey, Susan J. Erickson, Howie Good, Trivarna Hariharan, H. Edgar Hix, Meredith Stewart Kirkwood, Eleanor Levine, Mindy Levokove, Mark Mahemoff, Todd Mercer, Brad Rose, Tomoko Sawada, Yu-Wen Yang. Cover art by D. Wisely
Stacked creosote ties, brown river,
a narrow stretch;
a trailer house, a pickup, fishing shack,
unpaved road, utility access . . .
Upgrade from rail track, in the woods
of West Virginia, a hillside of
dumped refrigerators, a few old stoves,
the blossoming of an apple tree.
Between Cumberland and Martinsburg
From the Guest Editor
Reflecting on the work in this issue, I find each piece has offered me moments of insights in motion. Whether it’s lingering over the image of a hole in a bath towel, reflecting on recent natural disasters that have us feeling like, despite relief, “the rain will never end,” or engaging with the text of a book on the Atkins Diet, these pieces all share an ability to create meaning that points to meaning outside the original work.
As a reader and contributor, I have often asked myself: What is that right hand pointing to? The next poem? The next observation in a story? The next choice moment of dialogue? The work in this issue answers: Yes, yes, and yes. The right hand pointing is a symbol of attention and motion; I welcome readers to pay attention to where these pieces are going.
José Angel Araguz
We have a set
of brown bath towels.
One has a hole
the size of a quarter in it—
cotton threads stringing out
like tufts of grass
from an oriole’s nest.
We don’t put them out
José Angel Araguz,
What You Do Not Know Is True
I normally date myself, though this dude was a coffee cup away from me.
We were drinking and he pondered, “are we in a relationship?”
When anyone aspires to remove me from my preamble, that is, an existence without another existence, I suffer their words and quietly refrain.
I like the space that exists in fire and air and all that occurs when burning is the sensation.
He had an earring in his nose and a moustache that swooped me.
I could not talk when he gazed and described his latest, greatest and favorite Bob Dylan album.
I am not a Bob Dylan fan, nor do I like Patti Smith, but he wanted me to attend their concerts.
As you know, this is no way to keep love brewing when your thoughts are like a paragraph from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale.
Still, I agreed to sleep there for a night. Just a night.
He kept gawking.
In the pink room, where many people remove their despair, he followed my eyes, which led to the coffee shop.
“Do you mind if I sit down?”
He took my hand.
We discussed hip-hop and The Mekons and The Ramones. For him it is and always will be about music and the great void it leaves in his soul.
It is music that is the wildest conundrum.
He has never forgiven me for my disparaging remarks about Dylan and Ms. Smith.
“You need to be more respectful,” he whispered.
I declined more bourbon that evening.
I fell in a state of calm and did exercises learned at the psychiatrist’s. This included sticking your stomach out and breathing in and out.
He could not fathom the bourbon wasted. He drank my cup. We went to the fire and held hands, but his eclipsed mine rather than held it.
He clung to metaphors from songs.
The alcohol was firing, his grandmother was dead, and Patti and Bob made all things right.
Bob and Patti
But that’s not it, either. No one aspires
to appear on the police radar. I know cons
who do stretches of time, parole out,
fall back in, grow old before living clean.
It’s a system, so there’s flow. Pathways.
There’re forks in the road.
Well, they’re in my pocket now.
Got to celebrate. Made an appointment for my next tattoo. Either blue barbed wire or red hatchet blades. Melinda offered to hypnotize me. I just love that girl.
Sure, I’d like to make a full recovery, but you can’t back up that train. It’s not how things are done around here.
Melinda told me she thinks Jesus is kind of cute. She asked, “If there’s a flood, should we swim toward or away from New Jersey?”
I told her, “Honey, it’s really a good thing you didn’t shoot both those guards.”
After Our Trip to Bank of America, Melinda and I Make Plans to Celebrate
After church, I asked Rae Lynn to hypnotize me, so in the future, I could operate under a number of aliases. I read about it in People magazine, next to an article about pie fights in Hollywood. She agreed, although she said she’d hate for me to become a statistic. I told her even though medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death, everyone loves a good horror movie.
By the time we got to my pickup, I could swear I felt extraterrestrial magnetism in the parking lot. There are at least five things we’ll never know for sure about Satan. I saw dry grass on the church lawn pressed in the shape of a sleeping beast.
Rae Lynn said, "Now is as good a time as any to start having nightmares."
I pointed into the distance and said, "Do you see those floating things? What do you think we were put on this earth to do?"
Revelation in Wichita
on a floating branch,
They say the rain will end tomorrow
but the rain will never end.
H. Edgar Hix
Some eyes you can look into
and tell it is dawn, while only earlier,
they were blinking like moonstone
in mist, reflecting
a friend’s shining
in water: a narrowness
that could be walked only
hand in hand, irrespective
When they lower, sun sets
yet the birds don’t seem to
return: glided past they have
the equator and perched upon
walls radiant in their lucidity—emptiness,
like a seed bag sprinkled
over soft earth, and the blades
sprouting and sagging and swaying
to tell all the times a day has.
And all the times it does not.
Times of the Day
in the valley of death
with a jolly green giant
and a dancing bee
can you give me a minute
have you got a dime
said the empress of now
to the jaguar king
instead of an answer
he began to sing to
the crowds of the morning
the singles of the night
then they ate both sides
of the continental divide
a stone from falling
once the rains
have tendered its face
with the grief
of an autumn’s flower?
I’ve watched him progress
from Lego to IKEA
crayons to Allen Keys
clichés are clichés for a reason
somewhere inside each one
is a durable truth
meanwhile he grows past us
like a beanstalk from seeds
we planted recklessly
not knowing what would blossom
this little man
this lovely boy
Grey late August light
nothing is completely resolved
but now it’s fine
to leave loose ends untied
as a moth becomes manic
within the confines of this bus
self-pity is such a distraction
from the action one could take
when night is now what must be faced
or wrapped in for camouflage and warmth
I didn’t arrive until I lost
the persistent penumbra
of an overweight body
in my mind
Not until the globe’s shadow
summed up the external
and my internal mail
was a greeting card
I arrived when the pain
was no ignorable neighbor
and I ate it for dinner
When a slip on ice
bloated my body
and I floated above
the hospital wing
How I Arrived
Meredith Stewart Kirkwood
Because you feel
your body a candle
joy the flame
your body is burning off
is being thrown
away in the happiest possible
the knowledge lambent
You can’t be mis-
The end is always
a formless wax so why not
[fill in the blank]
Meredith Stewart Kirkwood
In the voice of Dr. Atkins
italicized lines are from the original edition of Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution (David McKay Company, 1973)
Above the strange sea
that coordinated their twitches,
and the strange sea
colored in harlequin patterns.
they called it
to don order
the would-be chaos
But they were colored in pastel,
and dark hues
dissolved into the shadows.
EPIC, graffiti says on the building
white bold letters
like secret codes
I am confused
platform is burning
Train is stuck
somewhere far south
Young mother with long braids
places her right hand
on the baby’s forehead
in my hands
3pm, August 1, Burnside Ave Station, Bronx
You probably won't look like the real you.
Chances are you’ll be in somewhat of a panic.
That’s why you must educate your nerves.
You won’t know what you’re breathing.
You won’t know what’s in your house.
Check that the doors and windows are locked.
Start naming the things in the room.
Think, “Hahaha that’s so funny!”
and then hope something like the thought
“OMFG what am I laughing at?” occurs to you.
The Detritus of Dreams
The ditches and fields are full of Queen Anne’s Lace. They move in the breeze as if to music, maybe to the summer movement from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons—the part before the thunder. They bloom despite a dearth of rain. They bloom even though the sky is too blue to look at. They flourish with no one to stake the lanky stalks, no one to deadhead spent blossoms.
a shower of seeds
waiting for rain
Susan J. Erickson
As a girl she twisted and fiddled
her hair into knots her mother cut off
with the dressmaker’s shears. Now
she smooths and strokes
the locks of her hair as if they
were small animals that might
escape and she would be left alone.
Susan J. Erickson
Sudhanshu Chopra hails from India. He draws inspiration to write from observation, memories, subconscious, books he reads, movies he watches, and music he listens to. Sometimes a phrase or simply a word is enough. Reach out on Twitter: @figment_freud
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.
Susan J. Erickson’s first full-length collection of poems, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, won the Brick Road Poetry Prize. Susan lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press.
Trivarna Hariharan is an undergraduate student whose work appears in One Sentence Poems, Third Wednesday, Front Porch Review, Alexandria Quarterly, Birds Piled Loosely, TXTOBJX, Eunoia Review and others. Besides writing, she learns the electronic keyboard, and has completed her fourth grade in the instrument at Trinity College of Music, London.
H. Edgar Hix is recently retired and still putting right along. His work appears regularly in Mutuality, Time of Singing, and One Sentence Poems.
Meredith Stewart Kirkwood’s recent work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Rock & Sling, The New Verse News, and Windfall. She lives in the Lents neighborhood of Portland, Oregon where she digs in the community orchard and reads poetry at the farmer’s market. Find her at www.mkirkwoodblog.wordpress.com.
Eleanor Levine's writing has appeared in more than 50 publications, including Hobart, Juked, SRPR (Spoon River Poetry Review), Wigleaf, Heavy Feather Review, The Breakwater Review, Artemis, The Forward and (b)OINK; forthcoming work in Bull (Men's Fiction) and Willard & Maple. Levine’s poetry collection, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria, was released in 2016 by Unsolicited Press (Davis, CA).
Mindy Levokove is a multi-media performance poet. She’s published in CLN WR, Curare, Stained Sheets and voices (NYCWP), etc., and also curates many readings. Mindy's been teaching adult literacy and numeracy (Math). Several of her students’ pieces were published in local and national adult literacy journals.
Mark Mahemoff is an Australian poet based in Sydney. He has published four books of poetry, most recently Urban Gleanings published by Ginninderra Press. He regularly reviews books on poetry and psychotherapy and works full-time as Senior Couple Therapist and Clinical Supervisor.
Todd Mercer won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry (2016), the National Writers Series Poetry Prize (2016) and the Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Award (2015). His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer's recent poetry and fiction appear in Eunoia Review, The Lake and Vending Machine Press.
Brad Rose is the author of five chapbooks of poetry and flash fiction, all from Right Hand Pointing/White Knuckle Press: Democracy of Secrets, Coyotes Circle the Party Store, Dancing School Nerves, An Evil Twin is Always in Good Company, and the forthcoming, Away with Words. His website is bradrosepoetry.com.
Tomoko Sawada lives in New York City. She is blogging at thingssmallblog.wordpress.com.
Yu-Wen Yang is a student at the University of Southern California.
Laura M. Kaminski
F. John Sharp
José Angel Araguz
F. J. Bergmann
about the editors