Ingrid Ankerson, Elisabeth Blair, Sudhanshu Chopra, Mark Danowsky, H.W. Day, Meghan DePeau, Howie Good, John Grey, Ray Malone, Irene Mitchell, Robert Nisbet, Alejandro Pérez, Ed Robson
Laura M. Kaminski
F. John Sharp
José Angel Araguz
F. J. Bergmann
about the editors
by Dale Wisely
I'm writing this the day Charlie Manson died in prison. Over the years, I would occasionally see footage of one of his many futile parole hearings. We all knew that Manson would never get paroled. The parole boards knew it. Charlie knew it. Charlie's lawyers knew it. They would just sit by helplessly while Charlie reduced his chance of parole from zero to less than zero by doing things in the hearing like suggesting he might beat a parole board member to death with a book.
One of the things I've thought about Manson and similar notorious murderers is that they irritate me. Irritation may seem an inappropriate response to their horrible crimes. Their crimes don't irritate me. The crimes shock and grieve me. But these murderous people irritate me. Charlie Manson, for example, should never have been someone whose name was so widely known. He should never have been a significant person. He was a two-bit thief and criminal. Unfortunately, he apparently had a talent for seducing and brainwashing damaged young women. He belongs to the sad category of people who would be lost to our attention, and to history, but for their crimes. Now these people are showing up all too regularly on the news. It is a shame that their crimes force us to speak their names and to put their pictures on TV.
I have never found Charlie Manson frightening. I listen to Charlie rant and I think, this ridiculous guy is full of shit. The great tragedy is that the twisted little con man inspired the murder of innocent people and those victims not only did not deserve to be murdered, but didn't deserve to be murdered by someone so ridiculous and so full of shit.
Through all those parole hearings, I am not sure Charlie would have really wanted to be out of prison. In fact, he told an interviewer that he had informed his jailers as early as 1967 that he'd rather be in prison than to have to deal with all the lunatics on the outside. Fair enough. That leads me to something Manson did say once that wasn't complete gibberish or BS. Maybe it's that chimps-with-typewriters idea. If you run your mouth long enough, you'll say something sensible. It's from his 1994 interview with Diane Sawyer.
You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody's crazy.
Charlie had a point there.
Here is issue 117. As always, I thank the editorial team for reading all the submissions and for all their work. Thanks to all who submitted and all whose work we present in this issue.
It moves around,
the place you are
sick for, like a
in a flat
is the only
thing to be sure
of. But one night
my sweet love-poem writer and first kiss asked to be
pinned against the wall with his neck compressed.
He was supposed to pass out for a fraction of a second,
then come to again. And sometimes he did, he went
away, his body slumped against the door—
for a second he wasn’t there. But before he could fall
he’d come back again. His friend did it for him
and he did it for his friend; I stood nearby.
I loved everything he did and everything he loved,
but could not want to be that alive.
In the 8th grade,
The neighboring town was on fire earlier.
I saw it from my porch because
the builder next door said to look.
I went to see my wife, who is injured.
When I returned to my place it was dark
and the air was poor.
We can discuss parts per million
or you can picture as I walk the dog
thoughts cloudier with each breath.
In a tousled grazing
cotton mice race
a monochrome caterpillar
of contiguous hay bales.
Unspent the sprinters pass
wagons & wrappers,
copperheads in kudzu.
homesick Issue 117
She swims with the tip of her beak pressed
to the glass seam at the corner of the enclosure.
The others preen, dive, waddle. But she persists,
making tired, perpetual strokes toward a blurry world
My daughter is waving at her when I turn away
so she won’t see my moist eyes. Other tourists
stare deep into their phones, glance up, pose
for a selfie.
A Penguin in the Biodome in Montreal
I’m staring into the flames dancing in the wood stove
at a quarter to midnight on a Thursday, everyone else
sawing logs, and it hits me. I know what I want.
I want to know this fine gray dust—all that remains
of those who came before me, all that will remain
of my one life—will be completely spent. Every breath,
every stretch toward light, every scar will all come
to this, these hot embers ebbing
to this quiet glow.
You never find a place that is total silence. There’s always something happening, always temptations, all the variations of green. You feel your brain is wider than the sky. There’s a feeling of water, somehow, abandoned and never-ending. You think, “I’m going to drown,” “I’m going to die,” “I’m going to lose everything.” Then suddenly the building is just dancing in the air. To go in there―wow.
Yet to Be Titled
congeals the outside world.
The church, the houses,
luminous with the sun's last gasp,
take on the mysterious patina
of another land,
a city where I've never set
foot until this very moment.
But it will be night soon,
lit bystreet lamp,
and where I live.
My Strange Land
too soon, the shoes off, the feet sore,
flat on your back, at last, content,
that this should be the case―but then,
the door, open to the elements
there it is, the hand, held out to me,
open to debt, to the dirt of the world,
there, to be damned, or disdained, to be
shamed, there it is, the hand held out again
midday the almost there
but then gone by
the moment where you were
where the tick of would be
the time to come
still to come
when what you were
would never be
the very pause itself
A world where roads have
legs and where we humans have
none. Where roads choose us,
and we’re not burdened with the
task of choosing the right one.
The sea meant everything to her imagination.
Immensity. Purpose. New calculations
with every curlicue of seaspray.
She looks to the sea for reflection.
No shame in solitude.
May the ship swim well!, cried Captain Bligh.
She falls in with the raptors
making their way through clouds and traffic.
That long grey stretch, November on,
was ripped apart that year,
on March the third, eight-thirty
(the postman early on Saturdays),
by her airmail letter, in limpid hand,
and the news she was tiring
of Adelaide’s dust and heat,
was planning to come back.
I walked to town, down Meadow Lane,
past Davies’s big field (the stream,
two colts frisking), clouds rent
by a rush of morning sun.
In a Twentieth Century Winter
All around is death
and innocence. Guilt
clings only to survivors.
I take up space and eat
and generate nonbiomass-
type waste and didn’teven
spring for cage-free eggs
at Aldi. It’s been three years
now. She wonders when I’ll
just get over it and come
back home. Her cluelessness
revives my shame, my dirty
secret of survivorship, this
habit that my cowardice
Ever since he gave up trying to dislodge
the stubborn boulder from his northmost field,
Caleb has been death on any rock he spots
fist-size or more. He’ll stop his plow to grab
and fling it quick into the pond. He’s seen
what’s like to happen if you let them grow.
Holding the Line
If my lip were to graze by
I would know what it is like
to be dew
slanting down smooth eaves.
To be on outskirts,
in beautiful exile.
Ingrid Ankerson is a graphic designer and many other things, living in Ann Arbor Michigan.
Elisabeth Blair is a poet, composer, visual artist and feminist podcaster. Her work is forthcoming in Feminist Studies, S/tick, and cream city review. Her chapbook, We He She/It, is available through Dancing Girl Press. www.elisabethblair.net
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.
Mark Danowsky is a writer/poet from Philadelphia who lives in West Virginia. His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, and elsewhere. Mark is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Founder of the poetry coaching and editing service VRS CRFT.
H.W. Day is an Alabama native and received his Doctor of Pharmacy from Auburn University. He has contributed to RHP in the past, and also has work featured in the Tipton Poetry Journal & Red Fez. He resides in Birmingham, Alabama.
Meghan DePeau’s poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Connecticut River Review, Common Ground Review, and Freshwater. She won CGR’s annual poetry contest in 2016. She also received the Outstanding Young Poet Award and won the annual writing contest at Manchester Community College during the 2015-16 academic year.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly.
Ray Malone is an artist, writer and translator, living in Berlin, Germany, currently exploring the expressive (lyric) potential of minimal forms in a series of related projects. In most cases the poems begin with a brief quotation—it may be only one or two words—used to generate meaning.
Irene Mitchell’s fourth poetry collection, Equal Parts Sun and Shade: An Almanac of Precarious Days was published in 2017 by Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press. Mitchell, an ad hoc facilitator of poetry workshops, is known for her collaborations with visual artists and composers.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh writer who does not see himself as unduly competitive but who has recently won the Prole Pamphlet Competition. His chapbook entry, Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes, has just appeared from Prolebooks.
Alejandro Pérez is a Creative Writing major at Emory University. Being part American and part Guatemalan, he was raised in a bilingual/bicultural home. He is caught between two cultures, just as he is caught between his desire to live in the real world and in the world of his imagination.
Ed Robson is a retired clinical psychologist currently seeking admission to an MFA program in creative writing. His poetry has appeared recently in Perfume River, Prune Juice, and Flying South, and on posters downtown and on buses in Winston-Salem, NC. He also writes plays, essays, and fiction.