Ian C Smith: “Troubled in the Roaring Forties”

Troubled in the Roaring Forties

Rain on a caravan roof in the Furneaux Group.
Awake late, his mind roils like the encircling sea
these dwindling fugitive nights, roils in chaos
he knows no escape from, but wants to,
toil over, children adults, problems reflecting
their parents’, grandparents’, as it is in fiction,
usual flaws, deceit, greed, a touch of the crazies.

He hears no vehicles at this witching time.
The rain’s runoff affects these lonely rutted roads.
When he came down the dark mountain earlier
he bounced and jerked like an accident test dummy.
Here in the winter dark he feels rising dread,
reads, slowing, a novelist’s memoir of his parents,
an inventory of muted regret steered toward death.

Earlier still, cloud mantling jagged mountaintops,
he waded in brine until staggering out bone-cold,
unnoticed, skin, sun spots multiplying, mottled.
He has medicine, mourns people he once cared for,
mourns Donald Trump’s effect on the not guilty,
seeks solace in his football team’s fraught season,
down but fighting, a trace of the past’s conjured magic.

 

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Australian Poetry Journal,
Critical Survey, Live Encounters, Poetry New Zealand, Southerly, and Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.

Paul Kindlon: “The Ideal Woman”

The Ideal Woman

I was in Paris on assignment, but I was given a day to adjust and re-orient after having spent a year in Syria. My options were limited: stand in line with five-hundred Chinese tourists at the Eiffel Tower or visit the Louvre.

Before I went to the museum I chose to enhance my aesthetic experience by taking a hit of pure acid. I then stopped at an up-scale café for some quiche and a nice bottle of Bordeaux. The name of my server was Pierre. How’s that for a nom de guerre? I spoke in impeccable French making sure to over-emphasize my American accent. Oh Pretty Pierre. I’m sure after work he exchanged his black vest for a yellow one. The French have to be the biggest complainers in the world, am I right?

By the time I got to the Louvre the acid was starting to kick in. This could get interesting.

Everyone has their favorites, right? I happen to like the Impressionists. Yes I know that “mind blown” is a tired old cliché, but on acid the term was “le mot juste”.

My next stop was Giaconda herself – LV’s little masterpiece. I swear… the painting seemed to beckon to me with some mystical magnetic force. As I drew nearer I suddenly realized why so many artists and critics believe the painting to be so extraordinary.

“My God she’s beautiful!” I uttered a bit too loudly.

Her enigmatic smile instantly changed into a frown. Those gentle eyes became fierce and defiant. She was clearly angry.

“How dare you objectify me!” she said.

“But Lisa…I’m just being honest”

“You are focusing on my physical features as if they alone define who I am. Moreover, I know what men are doing when they call you beautiful. It is an attempt at leverage over a woman. To make her self-conscious of how she looks”

I happen to love feisty women. And her sassy attitude really turned me on.

“I want to kiss you Mona Lisa!”

At that point two security guards grabbed me by my melting arms and took me to a room with no paintings. I was still seeing colors though. They started playing fifty questions with me which was ridiculously ironic, but it was messing with my high as well. To save my ass I had to blow my cover and confess that I worked for CNN and the CIA.

Their supervisor called the embassy and within minutes I was released with polite apologies and two free tickets to the Moulin Rouge.

 

 

Paul Kindlon is a Professor of Humanities. He holds a PhD in Philosophy and Russian Literature and taught in Moscow, Russia, from 1994-2017. His publications include 11 short stories, 9 poems, 30 polemics, and a brief memoir.

 

Christine Stephens-Krieger: “Myth of the Perfect Girl”

Myth of the Perfect Girl

I reached perfection by age twelve,
but no one noticed. Perfection

happens everywhere, all
the time not knowing itself,

perfect like dirt, like a squid,
perfection under wraps, enspelled,

swapped with changelings,
forced to live a goblin life,

hidden under veils, sometimes buried,
too precious, thrown in a pond to keep,

treasure only worth its legend,
perfect glimmer in the dark.

Once, I was every saint,
had a map for every step,

bought the magic, bookworm amateur
armed with a pen and a timid knock.

Perfect, I watched others transform,
fall into ruin when they ate the magic beans.

I watched for the color change, texture
shift, the red marks and wild looks,

the smirking and escaping, the finding
a hundred ways to break their shells.

When I was perfect, adulthood
was the land of broken dreams.

A witness, I swore to never get fat,
never have kids, never marry.

Perfect, I signed my name on every page
through my School Days book. Perfect,

I saw no reason I might change.
Perfect black and white shapes

cast perfect shadows, make perfect sense.
I tell myself, I’ll never make that face, never

eat the whole cake, won’t wear that, will not–
but then make the face, eat the cake, wear the dress,

those shoes, get in the car, go for the ride. Fall.
Perfect falling. Blossoms descend just so.

 

 

Christine Stephens-Krieger finished her MFA at WMU and published a bunch of poems in the 90s. Her awards include first place in the Macguffin Michigan Poet Hunt and the Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition. She also appeared in the anthology The Prepress Awards Volume II: Emerging Michigan Writers. She submerged after that, raised a child and taught herself to paint. Now she’s written a new book of poetry called What a World, What a World: A Life in Poems. So far in 2019, YES Poetry and Dime Show Review will publish poems from this collection.

Alan Britt: “Last Chance”

Last Chance

Last chance to dream a wireless cactus
guarding the border between hope & despair.

Razor wire cactus.

Last chance to believe one is impervious
to common decency—it’s the static that
gets me—but conglomerate algorithmic
crude not so much.

I’ve withstood floods, shifting states of mind,
& expectations pinned like butterflies
against the lapels of Nobel Laureates.

I ate dinner with an extinct diminutive short
pronged mammal for millennia, along
with my Neanderthal cousins.

I soiled the onionskin pages of early,
modern & contemporary Christianity
& lived to talk about it.

But, today, I’m too exhausted to commence
with existence like a wasp in my doughboy
helmet, wasp that stung me with a garden
shed & kitchen drawer full of green trading
stamps that amounted to pretty much what
no one expected them to amount to.

Still, that’s not what I meant earlier; what
I meant earlier is that I’ve just spotted a
category five, & if I know what’s good for
me, tonight, I’ll surf moonlight’s crushed
roach tablets sheltering our military
graveyards until someone flips me upside
down like an hourglass & dumps me
into William Blake’s heaven or Arthur
Rimbaud’s hell.

 

In August 2015 Alan Britt was invited to Ecuador as part of a cultural exchange of poets between Ecuador and the United States. In 2018 and in 2013, he served as judge for The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. He has been interviewed at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem and has published 17 books of poetry, his latest being Ode to Nothing (bilingual English/Hungarian: 2018); Crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge (bilingual English/Romanian: 2017); Violin Smoke (bilingual English/Hungarian: 2015). A graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, he now teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.

Tom Laichas: “The Wait Won’t Be Long”

The Wait Won’t Be Long

Sometimes, in boisterous play, the two children scuff the Garden’s soil, exposing floorboards and joists. Sometimes, on a wander through woods, they happen on paths too straight to be creature-made.

All day, the great tree shadows their questions. It sprouts from the center of a vast circumference. Its branches hang low with heavy fruit. Its height rockets toward a noontime zenith. Light as papier-mâché, it lofts well beyond sight.

Timber and starlight, sugar and clay: how long can such a confection last?

Lock children away in a room with a cake. Before closing the door, tell them no, don’t eat a crumb.

Walk away.

The wait won’t be long.

 

Tom Laichas‘s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ambit, 3.1 Venice, Masque and Spectacle, Panoply, Eclectica, and elsewhere. His first collection is due out from High Window Press (UK) in 2020. 

Ernesto Reyes: “Day-dreamer”

Day-dreamer

_____I came into the kitchen to grab a quick snack—an apple, strangely, I was craving. My mother’s in the kitchen as well, stone-faced, hand-writing my father’s will. My father, in the living room, is watching a game show, sitting on his chair, smoking on his cigarette, coughing his lungs out.
_____The people on the game show seem young, inarticulate, and naive. They’re asked, “In the 1954 film On the Waterfront, who is the actor that famously says, ‘You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.’”
_____The young people look at each other, stumped, and struggle for the right answer. My father nearly jumps out of his chair and yells into the television, “Brando! Marlon Brando!” but unfortunately, he’s here—and not in the game show; the young people decide to use one of their lifelines.
_____My mother, who doesn’t like movies or music or art or books, says, “Even I know that.” (She doesn’t move nor look up from her writing when saying this.)
_____“I know, those dumb kids—must be college students,” my father says somewhat sarcastically, although there’s always, always, a pinch of seriousness whenever he talks. My father inhales on his cigarette, starts coughing uncontrollably again.
_____My mother chuckles, and turns to me: “Yes, or maybe they’re poets.” I don’t say anything. I only take a hard bite out of my apple and leave and spend the rest of the day in my room, flipping through the worn, yellow pages of my aged book—one of my many—to explore, to discover, to escape.

 

 

Ernesto Reyes is currently an undergraduate at Fresno State, where he is studying English literature and creative writing. His stories have been published in the San Joaquin Review, Flies Cockroaches & Poets, Subtle Fiction, the Acentos Review, and Brilliant Flash Fiction.

Kyle Kutz: “Route 283”

Route 283

There were eyes
in the skies of Cocalico

above Route 283

that loomed overhead,
in the middle of the night,
peering down at me.

I’d no clue what they wanted–

bloodshot yet serene–

or what tales they’d tell
if given a mouth
and good reason to speak.

I hit a ramp,
taken aback,
and lost ’em off the highway,

but my son
soon spoke of eyes
hovering above our driveway,

which didn’t look too happy
about my decision to leave

them behind,
high and dry,
on Route 283.

 

 

Kyle Kutz is a semi-recent graduate of Kutztown University, earning his B.A. in professional writing. His work has appeared in numerous publications, such as Expressions, Essence, Shoofly, Wood Coin, WORK, Visitant Lit, Aberration Labyrinth, and The Jet Press. He resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, writing freelance for LNP.