Sheldon Lee Compton, Kathy Douglas, David Gale, Sarabjeet Garcha, Howie Good, Mark Seidl, John L. Stanizzi, Josh Wetjen, Joanne Jackson Yelenik, Mark Young
Laura M. Kaminski
F. John Sharp
José Angel Araguz
F. J. Bergmann
about the editors
The Note by Dale Wisely
The Note is on vacation on account of the holidays. Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's and the election of a Democrat to the Senate from Alabama. Or, as I've been saying since the election, the partially and temporarily redeemed Alabama. I get to say that since I live in Alabama.
When The Note goes on vacation, she normally prefers a kind of geographic moderation. Instead of an oceanside locale, a modest cabin on a lake. Instead of mountains, rolling hills. Instead of New York or Chicago, places like Brownsville, Tennessee, and Heber Springs, Arkansas.
The Note called me last night to update me on her vacation, this one in a Hilton Garden Inn in Ames, Iowa. It's 10 degrees F in Ames, plus or minus about 10 degrees. So, this is not geographic moderation. I asked the obvious question about her choice of a winter vacation locale and The Note said she had been wanting to take a vacation at a really cold place. So, there you go.
The Note has been through a lot. Once a successful pediatric dentist, she lost her career and her family as a result of bad behavior related to her addiction to painkillers. She barely survived being gutshot by a guy robbing the bar in Indianapolis where she works.
During the phone call, I noted The Note seemed particularly cheerful. I laughed and told her I suspect if she was vacationing in Hawaii she would be miserable. She chuckled agreement and we had telephone silence for a few beats.
"Look, let me ask you. What is this, really? Why are you there?"
"It's so cold here," she said. "I need this."
"You need what? You need to suffer?"
"I need the cold. Also, there's free HBO."
"Well, let's see," I said. "Cold is numbing."
"Dale," she said, "Don't. I'm not a poem and I'm not your patient. I don't get it either. I just know this the place to be right now."
I hope you enjoy issue 118. On behalf of the editors, our thanks to those who contributed to the issue and, as always, to everyone who submits to RHP. My thanks to the editorial team, Laura M. Kaminski, F. John Sharp, José Angel Araguz, and F. J. Bergmann.
Happy New Year!
Joanne Jackson Yelenik
Technology in the 21st Century
Sometimes you skip over me, or around me.
I feel you pass as a breeze might blow
through my hair, as a spider
tiptoes along the contours of my face.
Your absence texts messages;
your pause registers full-stop.
I get it.
Moods and Madness
for all the winters;
you are tedious
no reassurance is ever enough.
But these experiences carry
and I cannot imagine
medicine and love
I have crawled
on my hands,
as close as
Found/Remixed from: Kay Redfield Jameson's An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. New York: Random House, 1996. From Epilogue, pp 218-9. The selected words & phrases are retained here in their original order.
Birth Cento: To Kathy, With Joy
Out my window,
in a garden the size of an urn,
A vulture rose
and flapped across the sand.
The soup boils over.
This is the world God didn’t create,
It is a nation born
In the quiet part of the mind:
It has the odor of Mother leaving.
When the curtain rises,
My heart and my body were separate.
Come to the garden, you said.
Thirsty and pale, her face
lowered in concentration.
Tired, hungry, hot,
I climbed the steep slope.
Born, I was born.
Source: Cole, Henri. Middle Earth: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. This cento includes first lines from the following poems: Morning Glory, Medusa, Middle Earth, Presepio, Casablanca Lily, Necessary and Impossible, Self-Portrait as the Red Princess, Fish and Watergrass, Powdered Milk, Olympia, Cleaning the Elephant, Self-Portrait in a Gold Kimono. Part of title from inscription in personal copy.
Imagine Yourself Happy
You look out your window
and see the oldest smiley emoji.
A lot of people have no idea
what’s going on or how this is.
Unless you show it to them,
they don’t know it’s there.
And if you show it to them,
they say, “What the hell?”
This is always going to happen.
There are always going to be these sad stories.
A roiling feeling, some unnameable fear, has been tearing at you for what seems like hours, the hollowness of night palpable. The right thing to do is not to stay in bed but to read.
Your wife agrees. You pull yourself off the mattress, walking the dark hall into the living room where you snap on the lamp near the couch and take a floppy paperback from your son’s books, a hand-me-down from the first time your wife got pregnant: ‘The Planets.’ Informative and therefore boring.
But there is inherent drama in the spheres, giant balls of gas exerting more gravity than is imaginable. In ‘The Planets,’ celestial majesties are fruit and basketballs, multiplied by fantastical exponents, legs on that cliché about one death being a tragedy and millions being a plain news event, even though The Planets contains no real characters or deaths but the death of stars, the birth of the sun. And the sun for some reason is a cloudy whir of blue and white gases as it starts from out of nothing—a four-stage process illustrated on the bottom of page one.
On other pages alchemies of substances read like fantasies, and there is a note about Mercury experiencing wrinkles from shrinking—wrinkles that are in actuality tremendous cliffs that would swallow whole mountains on Earth. Each page has a hole in the middle with a corner of the planets and its satellites visible so that they lace together to let you peer through the galaxy. A cardboard galactic odyssey.
You set the book down and use the remote to light the gas fireplace. Flames leap up from a blue pilot that consumes the gases behind the glass and becomes tongues of blue, waving silently and cooling into orange. You go to the bay window and open the blinds. Evergreens block out the stars. Darkness blurs the crusty bark and prehensile needles to a translucent gauze. The bulb on a lamp at the top of your steps casts a misty light onto the walkway.
You leave the fire on. When you return to bed your son has joined your wife, locked to her body as if pulled. They are two ions, a frozen orbital pattern.
He does this often, steals your place, as if making up for the baby that preceded him, the one that never made it to your house. You touch his cheek—the roundness of it tucked into your wife’s chest for warmth. Your son wakes, turning slightly, edging himself away from gravity. He has a face like he has exited some comforting dream, only to feel how cold the night really is.
John L. Stanizzi
fog drops quickly on the bay
the bay lulls small boats the color of candy
you sit listening to what cannot be seen
fog lifts quickly from the bay
dreamy boaters float on creamy swells
you wave to them in the busy bright clearness
the tide flecked with silver presses slowly against the town
shags submerged or half-submerged follow minnows
and you leave the bay half-emptied of dusk half-filled with moonlight
John L. Stanizzi
shadows of pines stretch in cool rows
pine needles cover the rotted roof
you open a door already the flavor of night
the town through pines—a wind chime of glass
a desk in the corner stained with raw light
and the words in the diary keep the pages from crumbling
the moon presses its light through cracks in boarded windows
the diary lays open under the bulb’s hot shower
you know before you leave you will never return
The Introvert's Excuse
You get to be known
more by soft-spoken
waiters in a hill station
than by your neighbours
at a cost.
what’s a bargain
if you are not the one
I don't want to
come back to a room
that's empty of
enmity. I don't want
to come back to a
room that's full of
corners that can't
contain me. The two
are not mutually
thing to do with
The river gauge is 3.13 metres
I catch the bus into town.
As I sit I lift my feet up
off the floor.
The goddamn buses
are so low.
Sheldon Lee Compton
Sybil took to the field when it got bad.
Turned her head and let the first cow
she saw nuzzle close on her shoulder,
its mouth a perfect silence. She led the
cow to a pond and rested on the bromegrass
where the water met the field. Here the
water’s surface rested with her, the reclined
canopy of sky reflecting the flying canopy of sky.
In this way, the pond was her heart:
a single part flattened from pressure,
yet a body movable in a catch of wind.
The pond was her heart, too, when it got better,
the weight of water unseen nearly forgotten.
Knowing even what you
know, you run to the window
and peer into the dark
to find out who's in danger
and from what.
The Cries that Sound like Human Voices
Sheldon Lee Compton's work has appeared in Wigleaf, New World Writing, Pank, Vestal Review, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for the Chaffin Award, cited in Best Small Fictions, and was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award and the Still Fiction Award. He lives in Kentucky.
Kathy Douglas’s work has appeared in Unlost Journal, Right Hand Pointing, After The Pause, shufpoetry, Poetry WTF?! and Drunken Boat, and she has a piece forthcoming in Writers Resist. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College.
David Gale lives in Gloucester in the UK. He provides a home for rescued border-collie-cross dogs and many ideas for his poems are inspired by their walks. His poems have appeared in The Interpreter’s House, Sugar Mule, South and South Bank Poetry.
Sarabjeet Garcha is a bilingual poet and an editor, translator and publisher. He is the author of three books of poems, including Lullaby of the Ever-Returning (Poetrywala, 2012) and a collection in Hindi, besides two books of translations. His new collection, A Clock in the Far Past, is forthcoming from Dhauli Books.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press. His latest books are Still Running from One Sentence Poems and Hitchhiking Through the Apocalypse from Grey Book Press.
Mark Seidl lives in New York's Hudson Valley, where he works as a rare-books librarian—the best job in the world! His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hotel Amerika, One Sentence Poems, New Delta Review, and elsewhere.
John L. Stanizzi’s books are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall After the Bell, and Hallalujah Time! Poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Praxis, RHP, The New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, and many others. He teaches literature at Manchester Community College, in CT.
Josh Wetjen lives and works in the Twin Cities. He writes, meets with other writers, practices jazz to backing tracks, cooks when he can and gets nerdy with online film essays and visual art. He sometimes writes with his daughter who is only five and is just learning to spell and therefore is the poster child for concision.
Joanne Jackson Yelenik’s poems have been published in Arc, Voices, Adanna and Unbroken Journal. Her debut novel is Eucalyptus Leaves. Vine Leaves #19 features two of her poems. The places where she lives, whether Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, or as currently, Israel, impact the colors and texture of her poetry.
Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for almost sixty years. He is the author of over forty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His most recent book is random salamanders, a Wanton Text Production.