Charles Byrne, Michael Estabrook, Siyun Fang, Lynn Finger, Howie Good, H. Edgar Hix, John Levy, Dave Malone, Betsy Mars, Michele Rappoport, Louise Robertson, Val Dering Rojas, Brad Rose, Kevin Ridgeway, Michael Steffen
"Crepuscular" by Michele Rappoport
the world was children
F. John Sharp
José Angel Araguz
F. J. Bergmann
Laura M. Kaminski,
That would have been enough of a contribution and, in fact, I have no idea what I would have done with RHP without Laura's willingness to do that work. And do it with cheer. Routinely, when I would try to express my thanks to Laura, she would invariably respond with her expression of gratitude for the opportunity to work on RHP.
But that's just the work she did. The management of the back office, so to speak. Then there's Laura's extraordinary skill in reading poems with sensitivity and a remarkably clear view of what RHP has tried to be about for these 15+ years. I founded the thing but, had I exited when Laura came on, I would have challenged anyone to notice any change in the flavor and character of the journal. She got RHP and got it so well. She also shares something with my wife of 40 years. She’s saved me from some of my nuttier ideas with a gentle word that did not even include the observation that I am, in fact, nuts.
And if that weren't enough, my wish for anyone, anywhere, would be to be able to know and work with Laura. As conscious as I am that my long relationship with her has consisted entirely of emails, notes on Submittable, Facebook and other text-based communication, I think of Laura as a true friend. She is endlessly generous and kind, good-humored, and passionate about the welfare of people. Just as good a soul as I've encountered.
Thank you, Laura. Halima. My trusted friend and colleague.
We figured we had to hire two or three people to try to compensate! And we did, despite our inability to offer our editorial staff a decent dental insurance plan. I want to warmly welcome our new editors: Bill McCloud, Annie Stenzel, and Ina Roy-Faderman, who came on board in time to read for this current issue.
Bill McCloud's book of Vietnam War poetry, The Smell of the Light: Vietnam, 1968-1969, reached #1 on the "Oklahoma Best-Sellers" List. His poems are taught at the University School of Milwaukee, WI. Among the fans of his poetry are songwriters Graham Nash and Jimmy Webb. He lives in Oklahoma.
Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After. She currently lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay.
Ina Roy-Faderman teaches college and graduate biomedical ethics and is an associate fiction editor for Rivet Journal. Her poetry, fiction, interviews, and literary analyses have appeared in The Rumpus, Transition: Poems in the Aftermath (Indolent Books), Medical Literary Messenger, Right Hand Pointing, Midwestern Studies in Philosophy, and elsewhere.
Of course, I always feel unable to adequately express my appreciation to F. John Sharp, who hired on as Fiction Editor 15 years ago, when he was just 11 years old. José Angel Araguz is quite a big deal as a writer and teacher, but we have managed to continue to benefit from his excellent editorial work at RHP. Finally, our long-serving copy editor F. J. Bergmann. One time, 3 or 4 years ago, our copy editor F. J. Bergmann missed something when she proofed an issue. Let’s just put it this way, I remember where I was and what I was doing when that happened.
Thanks to John, José, & Jeannie. And thanks to the contributors to this fine issue and to you for reading.
With this The Note, I announce the retirement of our friend and colleague, Laura M Kaminski. Laura is stepping down from our editorial team due to health problems. We are hearing from Laura and she’s doing better, but her health has been a bit fragile and she needs to work less!
Many of the readers of RHP are also contributors to RHP who may have had a chance to interact a bit with Laura here or in her editorial work at Praxis. If you know her even just a little, you’re blessed.
I'll try to say what Laura has brought to RHP in the years she's been, for all practical purposes, the managing editor. She managed the seemingly unmanageable Submittable queue. She handled acceptances and rejections, like the world’s most gracious traffic cop, keeping a careful list as upcoming issues were assembled.
Some days I leave the
bed a nest. Some days it’s
an altar I climb down.
on a careless, spiraling night flight,
absorbed with a brilliance at the edge
of brilliance, burned by a streetlamp
divining the dark, brighter to them
than the waxing moon, copter earthward
littering the wide, polished avenue,
like paint chips fallen from a blistered sky,
petals from the highest garden.
Like a front porch light left on all day, I have a secret. Without darkness, there is no explanation for light. Some people are endlessly curious, most depart without leaving a trace. I told the motorcycle cop who pulled me over, every particle has an anti-matter twin. Below his white bullet-proof helmet, he grinned like a wasp. I can’t pretend that nothing happened.
End of Story
The crowd dances by itself. See it sway toward sleep? How long can you hold your breath? Like the cold-blooded moon, everyone has a dark side. I’m a known quantity. I’m wearing my own clothes. Maybe the people are the enemy of the people? If given a chance, I would choose the house that isn’t burning. I wish you would say something. You’re quiet as a painting. As I look into your eyes, misguided light travels through you, searching for stars. I’m certain the best is yet to come. Like a murder unsolved, that’s not the end of the story.
Floating on the Pale Backside of Death
One time, my father and I decided
to fill our empty swimming pool
with nothing but garden-hose water.
We did handstands in secondhand
swim trunks and talked about
going to Forest Lawn Cemetery
to check out the celebrity graves
that afternoon. We burned from
the driveway in clouds of his smoke,
still damp from jumping off
the diving board into a shallow sea
of filthy water, on our way to greet
all of the dead celebrities, who were
our best friends because they didn’t
judge us and they never talked back.
I held the DNR like a shield
when the ambulance arrived,
guarding my mother's vacated body
against further invasion.
Time to end the war,
wave the white flag.
The uniformed men gave assent,
backed away, brought in the body bag.
Do Not Resuscitate
I startled the great blue heron.
With little effort, like the way
one takes off shoes, this grand bird
flapped the long arms
of a grandfather clock,
steady second after second
until she found the shore
opposite me and slipped
into the sycamores below
the bluff. She stayed there
a long time, longer than
It is the light I think
I remember. Was it church
or vacation Bible school,
the desks like pews,
the way the rays almost blue
ached to rest on shoulders,
notebooks, while the teacher
dimmed at the front, barely perceptible
like God, and there were words
that the light ignored—the floor now
gold and moving, dust specks yawning
and stretching into the long silence.
She remembers her Nixon summer basement apartment. Bars on the windows, living on ramen. Seeing things double she didn’t even want to see once. She remembers calling from a phone booth. Keep taking the meds, the doctor said. This used to happen to her mother. She’d lie on the bed, despair squeezing her like a Mexican finger trap, no way out. "I don’t know what to do." She remembers his voice, cold as deep water. "Do what you have to do." She remembers cradling the phone, then the gun. Small woman in a bathrobe at the wrong time of day.
Val Dering Rojas
For Rebirth We'll Have to Gesture First
Toward Death or Destiny
Dusky red planet
or ruby-throated fruit.
Roots or wings. Ribcage or rocketship.
Lips or teeth. Atom/body or apple/tree.
Or apple/evil if we’re speaking Latin.
Downfall or uprising. Apple or
pomegranate or fig or apricot or wheat.
Plump temptation or juicy bite of science.
A departure or a resurrection.
Knowing or demise. The body,
vessel. The body, purgatorial.
The body as spacecraft
or spine. The body thrust,
no matter what, towards
some kind of after-life.
There’s a creature in the shell I picked up from the tidal pools, I didn’t notice until we’re back at the beach house, his legs poking out, I think he wanted to say something. I ask my parents to take me to the water, so I can put him back. They don’t. We get into the car to leave, they are distracted, losing their marriage. I get out of the car and put the creature outside under the lilac bush, so he can follow the roar of surf to go to his family. No one sees.
There is a one-eared pot
on my left
There is a three-eared pot
on my right
There is a two-eared pot, which is neither too big nor too small, in the middle
Three pots— they have been listening to rumors from the Tang dynasty to the modern era with their six ears
The museum is extraordinarily quiet today
—it is afraid to disclose the secrets belonging to tomorrow
I guess Dad was feeling good that day.
He kissed Mom right in front of us, wrapped
his thin arms around her there
in the middle of the living room in the middle
of the afternoon and kissed her full on the lips.
They had never done that before
not out there in the open
not out there right in front of us.
Right in Front of Us
And then everyone
got their wish,
and the world
A bad guitar, a silo of grain, and you
are all close to me at this
festival, where we're
fenced in, on this tennis court where our father
removed the net. The dancing
feels as if it won't stop, Aunt Betty focused
colored spotlights on the silo, and the broken guitar
without strings is the dance partner of our
grieving grandmother, who started off
dancing with it as a joke.
[First line contributed by Adam Rosenkranz]
Under a Quarter Moon
H. Edgar Hix
on a limb
Let there be no doubt
that our world is a cage.
We are living a life
of shadows, of echoes.
You don't look like you
anymore. I wasn't there
even when I was. I'm
a foolish old man who’s
been drawn into a wild
goose chase by a harpy
in trousers. The trail is
cold, if there ever was one.
I do not care what the police say.
The tickets are solid gold and it was Jesus
who gave them to me behind the KFC
and told me to sell them to get some money
to go to outer space. I met an alien named
Stevie, who said if I got the cash together
he would take me and my wife on his flying
saucer to his planet that is made entirely
of drugs. You should arrest Jesus because
he is the one that gave me the golden tickets.
I am willing to wear a wire and set Jesus up.
Tickets to Heaven
My mom went
into the hospital
13 years ago today
and never came out.
Lord, protect me,
so every morning
I can sit by the window
and start a poem.
There’s a beauty
in inventing things
that serve no purpose.
A Simple Prayer
Charles Byrne is a teacher and poet in San Francisco, with publications in After Hours, Clarion, and Poetry Quarterly.
Michael Estabrook is retired writing more poems and working more outside. Just noticed two Cooper’s hawks staked out in the yard or rather above it which explains the nerve-wracked chipmunks. The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019) is a recent collection.
Siyun Fang is a poet and translator who is currently attending The New School MFA Program. Her recent work has appeared in Rigorous Magazine, The Bare Life Review, Seven Circle Press and Minetta Review. Her research interests include the modern and contemporary poetry, theories of narrative, and dramatic arts.
Lynn Finger holds a B.A. in Humanities. Lynn’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals Unlost, Journal of Compressed Arts, and the Ekphrastic Review. Lynn mentors writers in prison. Fun Fact: Lynn was born 9 years after Tupperware was invented, just in time to hold her lunch leftovers.
Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.
H. Edgar Hix has lived in the country and the city and found himself wishing he could live in both. He is retired, not known for much of anything, but continues to send words out into the (mainly cyber) universe.
John Levy is a retired assistant public defender who lives in Tucson. His poems have appeared in otoliths, NOON: journal of the short poem, and Shearsman Magazine. His most recent book is Silence Like Another Name (otata's bookshelf, 2019).
Dave Malone has contributed poems to such journals as San Pedro River Review, Plainsongs, and The Cape Rock. His most recent book is You Know the Ones (Golden Antelope Press, 2017). He lives in the Missouri Ozarks and can be found online at https://www.davemalone.net/
Betsy Mars is a poet, photographer, and educator who loves travel, language, and the natural world. She recently took up publishing, releasing Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife in October, 2019 (Kingly Street Press). Her first chapbook, Alinea (Picture Show Press) came out in January, 2019.
Michele Rappoport is living the small life in Arizona and Colorado. She travels in an RV, creates tiny art, writes poetry and other short pieces, and has a certification in small-animal massage. Her short work has been published in High Desert Journal and is forthcoming in Literary Orphans. She wishes she were taller, but she is 5’3” and shrinking.
Louise Robertson counts among her many publications, awards, and honors a jar of homemade pickles that she received for running a workshop, as well as a 2018 Pushcart (Open: Journal of Arts and Letters) nomination and a 2018 Best of the Net nomination (Flypaper Lit).
Val Dering Rojas is a Los Angeles-based poet and artist who has also studied Addiction Recovery and Psychology. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in The Rumpus, SWWIM and Uppagus among others. Val is the author of the chapbooks TEN (Dancing Girl Press) and Waspfish (Glass Lyre Press)
Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles and lives in Boston. He is the author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray. He has three forthcoming books of mostly prose poems, Momentary Turbulence and WordinEdgeWise from Cervena Barva Press and de/tonations from Nixes Mate Press. Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com
Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Trailer Park Quarterly and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.
Michael Steffen is a Y2K graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Vermont College and the author of three poetry collections. Individual poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Potomac Review and other journals. New work will appear soon in Chiron Review. Michael lives in Buffalo, NY.