Meghan DePeau, Sarabjeet Garcha, Howie Good, Calvin Holder, Quinn Carver Johnson, Selina A. Mahmood, DS Maolalai, Brad Rose, Rolf Samuels, Claudia Serea, & Steve Straight

 

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

I am a psychologist and a mental patient. I've been known to introduce myself as such when I give talks on mental health topics, which I do frequently. I figure if we are ever going to defeat the stigma around mental illness, we have to stand up.

 

I am prone to episodes of depression. Mercifully, my episodes are typically brief and not severe. But I have a diagnosis and I am treated for it. I am mentally ill.

 

There is a sort of cultural joke that mental health professionals are themselves pretty nutty people.  At best. Psychologists and psychiatrists are almost always portrayed on TV and in movies as buffoons, or self-important squirrels. No one can even count how often TV and movies have featured sexual relations between therapist and patient. At least one famous fictional psychiatrist was known to pair human liver with fava beans and Chianti. Personally, I'm not crazy about fava beans. I also don't know what a Chianti tastes like.

 

While I object to the way therapists are depicted in fictional media, there's no reason for therapists to deny the idea that therapists are themselves among the largest consumers of mental health care. As a group, we probably have personal historiesdepression,  trauma, family issuesthat got us interested in mental health early on. 

 

Then there are artists, in general, and poets, perhaps, in particular. We all know the story there. We all know how much mental illness winds its way through the lives and the work of artists and writers. We all know that far too many die from complications of mental illness.

 

After years of decline, suicide rates among youth are rising. Some of what is behind that are increases in depression and anxiety among young people. Suicide rates among teenage girls are at a 40-year high, as has been reported in the media. Easy to miss from those reports is that teenage boys are still much more likely than girls to die by suicide. And, so are adults. The parents of those teenagersand their grandparentsare still considerably more likely to die by suicide.

 

(Ok. So. I'm sure all the writers whose work is featured in this issue are, as they read this, so very glad I decided to introduce the issue with this grim topic. Sorry, guys!)

 

I am just moved today to write this and to reach out. If you are doing poorly, find a way to be relentless in getting good care. If you get a squirrel for the first therapist, get another one. If the first antidepressant doesn't helpor doesn't help enoughat the current dose, talk to your doctor about increasing the dose or going to another medication. Tell someone you trust that you are struggling and ask for support. If you are currently doing well, write yourself a letter, encouraging yourself to get help, and tuck it away for some time that maybe you're not doing as well.

 

It is Anno Domini 2018. Our brothers and sisters are under siege. We are all needed. Stay alive.

 

Dale

 

 

 

 
Right Hand Pointing

Calvin Holder

 

Summoning

I see hope form here a box of words 
Lit from within; something nestled 
In the coil of letters, stirring, glinting 
Behind the rustling black ink shreds.

Right Hand Pointing

Calvin Holder

 

Take Care,

He might blush 

If you show him a poem 

 

A poem 

Might make him angry

Just by being

Close at hand 

 

He might flush 

Then narrow his eyes 

And move 

To close the book.

Right Hand Pointing

Calvin Holder

 

A House in Wales

Floating on its own slow ripple 

In the land

The house exhales

 

The fog of human breath 

Exuded through the walls 

 

Inhales mist 

Evaporating dew 

Sucked in through stone pores. 

Right Hand Pointing

Howie Good

 

Down Among the Dust

Cab drivers always turn around and ask me, 
“Where you going?” There are times 
I think about going back. But I don’t go. 
What I saw just doesn’t make sense
a woman 
who looked sort of like Emily Dickinson, 
in a sinister black pinafore, standing at the window 
with the alphabet prowling around her. 
Do you realize how dangerous that was? 
So dangerous I lost a shoe while fleeing.

Right Hand Pointing

Rolf Samuels

 


The closest baseball fields to my Milan house are just west, beyond the last street of houses. The fields separate those buildings from woods beyond. The fields form a middle space, domesticated nature. Three ball fields for the young, the Little Leaguers. On a map, the fields look like three accordion fans placed on the ground by three little maids from school in The Mikado. The closest field is also the biggest. It’s a four-minute walk from the house, seven when Polly dawdles, sniffs, does her business. Standing at the plate of that field, facing northwest, a right-handed hitter might pull a ball down the left-field line and lose it in the trees that run all the way to 14th Street, where the houses resume. 

When I was in my twenties, still reporting stories and not policing or repairing them, I sat in the bleachers at these West Milan fields, covering a Little League championship. I did not then live just down the street. What teams played that day I don’t recall. I suppose I could dig through files and find that story if I cared to. I haven’t fully buried my reporter past in my copyediting present. In those days, less of a preservationist, I didn’t keep notes long. Those events were not mine. And I think differently now about their very status as events. Outside the fiction of a ball field, what are sports but pseudo-events? A triple does not exist outside of a ball game. Off the field, it’s only marking out three-quarters of a box. 

In that Little League championship, I remember that a testosterone-advanced boy bowled over a chubby catcher, bowled him over with a slide so hard that it knocked him out. The catcher held onto the ball, the ump called the man-child out, and parents cheered while the boy catcher lay splayed and unconscious behind the batter’s box. The man-child stood sobbing nearby, a pizza parlor advertised on his hunching back. The catcher came to. The man-child wept on. His sobbing never earned a sentence, word, or letter in my newspaper story. 

The man-child is, must be, a man now. Maybe he still lives around here. Perhaps he found a woman to forgive him for being the brute he thought himself that day. Perhaps they have made little people of their own to care for, to introduce to baseball, to take to the plastic slide next to the Presbyterian church and play, just play.

Slide

Right Hand Pointing

Claudia Serea 

 

At 3 a.m.

I held my parents, 
each one under one arm 

and pulled them up 
onto my lap, 
the way you’d hold 
small children. 

They were so light, 
like air, 
like breath, 

and I was wondering, 
How can my father be so light? 
How can my mother—like a sparrow? 

I held them for as long as I could. 

And they were light. 
Like light. 



 

Right Hand Pointing

Claudia Serea

 

After the long illness called winter 

I stand under the bare trees, 
listening to the bird that asks, 

Is it here? 
Here? 

Overhead, two planes fly 
in the cold wind palace, 

and scattered icebergs show their bellies, 
drifting across the sky. 

And I don’t move 
for a long time, 

waiting for a sign, 
a great swoosh, 

a satisfying falling into place, 
like cracking bones. 

Can you hear it? 
Hear it? asks the bird. 

Shut up, I answer. 
I know it’s coming.

Right Hand Pointing

Claudia Serea

 

 

Red Poppies

Small open mouths that sing, 
swallowing pain whole, 

they grow on battlefields 
and on abandoned land, 

unfurling red dresses 
from the dead’s eyelids. 

Some call them wounds, 
weeds of eternal love 

painted on money, 
or flapping on flags. 

They write their own small history 
and give themselves to wind, 

heads held by hairy stems 
and paper-dry skin 

so easy to snap 
and spill on the ground 

the sleepy, black 
seeds.

 

Right Hand Pointing

Sarabjeet Garcha

 

 

Charged

Someday, I’ll get to it— 
get to my oracular bit revolving 
in the ionospheric orbit. 

Up there, I’ll unburden your soul 
of all earthly information, 
buff up the silence 

of cosmic bodies twinkling 
away into eternity, and 
soothsay the evolution 

of a world not governed by 
if-this-then-that. Save 
your words till then. Climb 

out of planetary plans to be 
embowered by desires 
which have achieved 

escape velocity.

Right Hand Pointing

Meghan DePeau

 

 

I Lost a Poem

this afternoon. 
I smiled at the curling ribbon 
that dangled from the balloon it 
was as it rose overhead, beyond 
my reach. I forgot to pull it 
down. Instead, I kept tying my shoe, 
chopping the onions, something that 
seemed to matter in that moment. 
I can’t help but wonder now, as I sit 
with this blank page, whether that poem 
mattered, whether it might drift 
back down for someone else, someone 
who will reach for that wisp of ribbon.

Right Hand Pointing

Quinn Carver Johnson 

 

 

Super Moon, 2018

It’s New Year’s Day and 
not only is it a full moon, 
but it’s so full that everyone 
says it’s super. I wake up 
and can’t explain the 
moon-sized hole 
in my chest until I see 
a story on the news: 
the moon tonight is 
going to be so big that 
no matter where you go, 
you can’t escape its 
pull, like the tides 
tugging at your heart.

Right Hand Pointing

Brad Rose

 

 

The Future

Before I was fired, I completed the empathy training workshop. It wasn’t so bad, especially since I came out swinging. Now, whenever you call, I pretend that I can’t hear you. It’s a law of physics, like the conservation of energy. Last night, I noticed the grass was black and silent in the moonless dark, but the trees were listening, so I went to bed. At first, I slept calmly, like a placid swimming pool poised under a pitch-black sky. Later, I woke up like a parachute that failed to open. Since Bobbi Rae asked me, "What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone that you don’t regret?" I’ve worn my typical Rorschach face. Of course, I’d prefer to wander around like a lazy sentence well-enunciated, but in this deadly weather, what I choose to confess depends on the geometry of the clouds. If you’re careful, the future perpetually awaits. Go to it now, like a contrite pilgrim. It calls out to the weary traveler, "I’m sorry, this won’t happen again." 

Right Hand Pointing
 

climb 
and puncture 
at the branches 
and the water of the leaves 
feeling the bend 
of the wood 
over emptiness 
and hoping 
it will hold them 

 

Monkey hands

D.S. Maolalai

 

Right Hand Pointing

D.S. Maolalai

 

Poetry as a visual medium

 

going through a poem 
at 2 a.m. 
and deleting all 
of the capital letters 
except for when I say "I" 
about myself 
and the P 
in "Paris" 
like these little reductions 
ripping off breadcrumbs 
to make 
the blackbirds 
sing 

Right Hand Pointing

Steve Straight

 

 

Soul

Soul is like an idiot on the town green, 
dressed in odd clothes that make people keep 
their distance, can float a spider on a head 
of beer and read the future, slippery though it is. 
A promiscuous thing, flirting with a succession 
of lives, soul takes the long, long view, 
a tack that compresses moments 
into diamonds. Linked without thinking 
to the anima mundi and all its brethren, 
soul stays attached to us by a thin silk thread, 
feeling the vibration of our mortality. 
At night, soul walks back through the town green, 
slapping the side of its head, laughing 
at a joke we’re not sure we want to hear.

Right Hand Pointing

Selina A. Mahmood

 

 

should

she says it brightly, 
like a dressed word— 
yes, that i am too, 
but i don’t menacingly 
brandish my marker 
in others’ faces. 

they converted you 
so easily.

Right Hand Pointing

Selina A. Mahmood

 

 

what it has to do with

● with the stretches 
of empty hours 
laid at my feet 
as roses 
every morning. 

● with keeping 
unbreathing at bay. 

● with leaving 
every story unfinished, 
waiting for you to 
finish it for their eyes. 

● with leaving 
enough space 
& enough doubt. 

● with the how long 
and in how many 
places can you 
keep silent? 

it has to do with that. 

 

Right Hand Pointing

Contributors

 

 

Meghan DePeau’s work has appeared in Right Hand Pointing, One Sentence Poems, 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 in 2016.

 

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, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.
 

Calvin Holder lives with his wife, daughter and dog, near Stroud, a mist-shrouded outpost of la bohème, in Gloucestershire.

 

Quinn Carver Johnson was born and raised on the Kansas-Oklahoma border. He is currently a freshman at Hendrix College where he is pursuing a degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing. His work has been published in journals such as Dragon Poet Review and The White Ash Literary Magazine.
 

Selina A. Mahmood is in her final year of medical school and has published a collection of poetry. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/selina-mahmood
 

DS Maolalai returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days at a medical supply company and his nights drinking wine. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

 

Brad Rose is the author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray, and 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 Away with Words.
 

Rolf Samuels lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he teaches English at Viterbo University. “Slide” belongs to a longer narrative, Prospects, in which a Moline copy editor recounts a failed romance and tracks the decline of his profession and his position.

 

Claudia Serea’s poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, Gravel, Apple Valley Review, and many others. She published four poetry collections, most recently Nothing Important Happened Today (Broadstone Books, 2016). Serea co-hosts The Williams Readings in Rutherford, NJ, and she is a founding editor of National Translation Month.
 

Steve Straight’s books include The Almanac (Curbstone/Northwestern University Press, 2012) and The Water Carrier (Curbstone, 2002).  He is professor of English and director of the poetry program at Manchester Community College, in Connecticut.
 

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Right Hand Pointing