Howie Good: “Animal Crackers”

Animal Crackers

Situational awareness is just so important. Even a momentary lapse can result in a 9-year-old in a black-and-white striped Halloween costume being mistaken for an actual skunk and shot. Now crime scene technicians in full-body coveralls are photographing the bloodstains on the front walk, dusting for prints, scooping shell casings into evidence bags. As the shooter gets dragged off in handcuffs, his wife collapses on the ground, convulsed by sobs. What is inside is going to come out despite the efforts of a nice neighbor to calm her. And the moon? It looks exactly like the blade of a scythe.

&

The old woman who told fortunes in a booth on the boardwalk turned the last card over. King of spades. She frowned at the card. Then she predicted I would die screaming, but screaming in the voice of the opera star she called Placebo Domingo. Nowadays the more that is reported, the less everyone actually knows. Ninety-nine percent of humans have been inducted into the bedlam of complex systems. When machines operators are overcome by fatigue and confusion, the machines are capable of operating themselves. Anyone can get a gun. It takes a white whale with a grudge to use it.

&

Mother died in the “nuthouse,” as people called it then. I might be better known today if I didn’t have such difficulty talking about it in something other than code. All these years later, searchlights are still probing the sky, supposedly for a ghost squadron of kamikaze pilots, but who really knows what’s going on? It could be the government is afraid every airplane flying overhead will crash. I lost my faith in portable electronic devices when missionaries went looking for souls to convert among horses and dogs. I imagine it was a strange time, too, to be a poodle.

 

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.

Peter Schneider: “If walking”

If walking

over the fractured ridge
of Camel’s Hump

even at mid-day the cold
of shifting cloud shadows
on the dense green

below the summits
distend space
Be there

Crowds may invade
the black-lichened rocks
or no

maybe you’re alone
in the wind

In any case
your loneliness
which means nothing

will assume a
significance to you
beyond thought

under the domination
of a hawk
or whatever is near

 

Peter Schneider is a poet and psychotherapist who lives in Brooklyn, NY. and Rochester, Vt. His poems have appeared in AMP: The Journal of Digital Literature (Hofstra Univ.); The Buddhist Poetry Review; Mobius: The Journal of Social Change; The Shot-glass Journal; Kairos; Better Than Starbucks; and in the broadside collection, A Midnight Snack. His debut collection, The Map is Not the Territory was published by Anaphora Literary Press in April 2018. His MFA is from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. is in clinical psychology from New York University.

Esme DeVault: “Four trees”

Four trees

frozen tree
traumatized trunk,
unmoving
my stationary sticks
iced over hard
but shining.

camouflaged tree
so many layers of green
whispering life,
distracting eyes from
my scarred stems,
broken branches,
that would not bend.

floating tree
rootless,
ever hovering
over the crystalline water,
laughing
as she laps my layers.

flaming tree
blazing oranges,
fiery yellows and reds
burning heart, soaring mind
scorching
all that I caress.

 

 

Esme DeVault writes, “I am a newish poet at 54 years old. I have been writing poetry for six or seven years. I live in Rhode Island with my husband and son. I have been an English teacher and an academic reference librarian. I am currently a staff attorney at the Rhode Island Supreme Court.”

Hibah Shabkhez: “Quaint Mournings”

Quaint Mournings

In shivers of pain we paint our nails bright
To conceal the arching, skin-fused beauty
Of translucence that mirrors and pools light
To crunch and strew in shards

As we drift through the deserted doorways
Falling in love with sweet melancholy
That grants us the right to languish and gaze
Inwards, backwards, homewards.

 

Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, a teacher of French as a foreign language and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Petrichor, Remembered Arts, Rigorous, Lunate, With Painted Words, The Dawntreader, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life, languages, and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her.

Blog: https://hibahshabkhezxicc.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @hibahshabkhez
Instagram: @shabkhez_hibah

Diane Webster: Two Poems

Does Dad Dream?

Mom comes to him at night
like the picture hung on his wall.
Her image massages his brain,
tosses ice cubes down his shirt,
spills coffee in his lap,
flips mashed potatoes on his glasses,
flies a paper airplane into his cheek,
spits a watermelon seed at his ear.
He wakes up anonymous
and looks at the picture on his wall.

 

I Remember

I still remember Dad’s old sayings:
“Drinking coffee
will put hair on your chest.”
“If you can keep your tongue out of the lost
tooth’s hole, it’ll grow back gold.”
“Swallow a watermelon seed,
and you’ll end up pregnant.”
“If you scratch your arm,
spit on it.  It’ll heal faster.”
I still remember, Dad,
even if you can’t.

 

Diane Webster grew up in Eastern Oregon before she moved to Colorado. She enjoys drives in the mountains to view all the wildlife and scenery and takes amateur photographs.  Her work has appeared in The Evansville Review, Philadelphia Poets, Better Than Starbucks, and other literary magazines.

Timothy Robbins: “Accident (for Jibanananda Das)”

Accident (for Jibanananda Das)

A new poet. By accident.
He was in a shadow
dragged across
continents, eating up a
tiny part of them,
hugged in a stiff
envelope that bore
my name
and whereabouts. Still,
an accident. As
with any new poet,
whether it’s wisdom
or sin, I begin
with his face. Broad —
a wooden bridge
gently curving over
a gully. Picante and soft —
an overripe sock. I
read three pages. Come
away with the sense
that growth and decay
are not different
stages. That this poet
and I grew up
in identical villages at
the dying ends of
sundered ages. That
he too wanted to know
everyone —
yet knew the
real tally would
be zero plus none.

 

Timothy Robbins teaches ESL. He has a B.A. in French and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. He has been a regular contributor to Hanging Loose since 1978. His poems have appeared in Three New PoetsSlantMain Street Rag, Adelaide Literary MagazineOff The Coast, and others. His collection Denny’s Arbor Vitae was published in 2017. He lives with his husband of twenty years in Kenosha, Wisconsin, birthplace of Orson Welles. Check out Timothy on YouTube.

Aleathia Drehmer: Two Poems

Kai

Your voice quivering
and full of unfounded doubt
splits the air too quietly
for the force of human
that lives inside your skin

Inferno
Tsunami
Tornado
Earthquake

They have
nothing
on you.

 

Frank Stella

Moultonboro II, 1974

We are fitted together
irregular in our natural
being, yet we find
those spaces allowed,
those crevices of wonder
that make us whole
despite the unevenness
of our edges. We blend
lives, our seams bleeding.

 

Aleathia Drehmer was the one-time editor of Durable Goods and In Between Altered States, co-editor of Full of Crow and Zygote in My Coffee, and art editor of Regardless of Authority. Her work has been published in print and online for poetry, fiction, and photography. https://theforkedroad-ajourney.blogspot.com/.