Sheldon Lee Compton, Kathy Douglas, David Gale, Sarabjeet Garcha, Howie Good, Mark Seidl, John L. Stanizzi, Josh Wetjen, Joanne Jackson Yelenik, Mark Young

Issue 118

sympathetic magic

 

STAFF
Dale Wisely
Laura M. Kaminski

F. John Sharp

José Angel Araguz
F. J. Bergmann
Sina Evans

about the editors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right Hand Pointing

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."

 

"Okay."

 

I waited.

 

"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!

Dale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Right Hand Pointing

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

Right Hand Pointing

Kathy Douglas

 

Moods and Madness

You’re not 

at all 

like springs, 

for all the winters; 

you are tedious 

beyond belief: 

 

no reassurance is ever enough.

 

But these experiences carry 

thought faster 

and I cannot imagine 

medicine and love 

broken. 

 

I have crawled 

on my hands, 

worn death 

as close as 

my mind, 

loved 

faster than 

most, finding 

new corners 

I cannot

imagine 

becoming 

jaded to. 

 

 

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.

 

 

Right Hand Pointing

Kathy Douglas

 

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.

Right Hand Pointing

Howie Good

 

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.

Right Hand Pointing

Josh Wetjen

 

The Planets

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. 

 

Right Hand Pointing

John L. Stanizzi 

 

Diary (1)

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 

Right Hand Pointing

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 pinesa 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 

Diary (2)

Right Hand Pointing

Sarabjeet Garcha

 

 

The Introvert's Excuse

You get to be known 
more by soft-spoken 
waiters in a hill station 
overnight 

than by your neighbours 
over years. 

Intimacy comes 
at a cost. 
                 But then, 
what’s a bargain 

if you are not the one 
                 driving it?

Right Hand Pointing

Mark Young

 

 

Line Thirteen

I don't want to 
come back to a room 
that's empty of 
everything except 
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 
exclusive. Some- 
thing to do with 
sympathetic magic. 

 

Right Hand Pointing

Flood Alert

David Gale

 

 

The river gauge is 3.13 metres 
and rising. 

It’s raining. 

I catch the bus into town. 
As I sit I lift my feet up 
off the floor. 

The goddamn buses 
are so low. 

Right Hand Pointing

Sheldon Lee Compton

 

 

The Pond

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.

Right Hand Pointing

Mark Seidl

 

 

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 

Right Hand Pointing

Contributors 

 

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.
 

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Right Hand Pointing