About thehuronriverreview

I am editor/faculty advisor of The Huron River Review.

Michael Steffen: “Book Report”

 
 Book Report
  
 I’m such a slow reader   
 that I began The Iliad shortly after 
 the Trojan War, and today—
  
 bloodshot and squinting 
 in the thin light of my desk lamp—
 I finally turned its six hundred, sixtieth 
  
 dauntingly thin page, and read, with exhaustion, 
 that gorgeous last line, Thus they buried Hektor, 
 tamer of horses. Christ, I can’t wait 
  
 to plow through the sequel!  
 As if the names weren’t hard enough—
 Iphegenia, Clymenestra, Agamemnon,
  
 Astyanax—all ideas of love and law 
 seemed to count for nothing.  
 Almost everyone died for the sake
  
 of the gods’ desires and a foolish dispute
 among men—two armies whaling on each other,
 while Achilles played blanket burrito 
  
 in his tent, then carved a murder canyon 
 through the Trojans. Finishing Homer’s epic
 was an odyssey in itself. 
  
 I’ll never get back the years 
 spent slogging through its plot,
 a page or two at a time, tacking forward,
  
 then circling back on a dactylic tide, 
 a ship lost in the fog. How good it felt 
 to finally glimpse the ending’s rocky cliffs, 
  
 a coastline vaguely familiar, family and friends 
 standing at the edge of the last page,
 waving me home. 

_________________________________________________________________________

Michael Steffen‘s fourth poetry collection, Blood Narrative, has just been accepted for publication by Main Street Rag Press. His work has recently appeared in Chiron Review, The Chestnut Review, and The Comstock Review. Michael is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Vermont College and currently lives in Buffalo, NY.

LC Gutierrez: “The C paper”

The C paper

It was her best work by far.
Covered like a casserole she’d cradled it to class,

handing it like a tribute into his soft white hands
tendered well before deadline

she’d used a thesaurus and words like solipsism
disenfranchised and hubris

run it through with a Grammarly
free trial version, Chicago style

formatted and cited.
Hardly touched, a couple of red crosses

and slashes where he’d nibbled at the
edges of the first and final paragraphs,

a couple of checkmarks like crumbs
along the middle margins.

It looked like a face- a round little head,
the mouth gaping open in surprise:

another perfect C.

_________________________________________________________________________

LC Gutierrez is a product of many places in the South and the Caribbean, as well as writing and comparative literature programs at LSU and Tulane University (PhD). An erstwhile academic, he now writes, translates, edits, and plays trombone in Madrid, Spain.

P.C. Scheponik: “On Being Done”

On Being Done

Last night my mother told me she missed me.
Something in her voice reached into my heart
and woke the young boy in me, the one sleeping
for sixty some years--
the one she had labored out of her body, held him
in her arms, fed him warm milk, bathed and changed
him, taught him to walk and talk, watered the garden
of his growth with her tears-- that one,
that one heard her say, “ I miss you.”
And it became clear to the man in me how impossible
it is to be done.
At ninety, my mother, her life behind her, all but the last
thin chapter read, now only echoes down the long
hall of time in her head, cannot let go of who she was.
How could who she is ever fill the empty rooms of her
present heart, longing for all the memories, all the love
all the purpose of the past?
Dances with ghosts, no matter how beautiful they are,
can never last.
Memories, no matter how hard we cling to them can never
hug back.
All our lives are stories we want to be never-ending.
But every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
And the denouement will never let us pretend ours is different
as we lie alone in our aged beds, waiting for the kiss goodnight,
waiting for the one who will turn off the light, then take us by
the hand and aching heart and lead us into our dreams.

________________________________________________________________________

P.C. Scheponik is a lifelong poet who lives by the sea with his wife, Shirley, and their shizon, Bella. His writing celebrates nature, the human condition, and the metaphysical mysteries of life. He has published four collections of poems: Psalms to Padre Pio (National Centre for Padre Pio, INC), A Storm by Any Other Name and Songs the Sea has Sung in Me (PS Books, a division of Philadelphia Stories), and And the Sun Still Dared to Shine (Mazo Publishers). His work has also appeared in numerous literary journals, among them, Adelaide, Visitant, Red Eft Review, Boned, Time of Singing, WINK, Poetry Pacific, Streetlight Press, and others. He was a finalist in Adelaide Anthology Contest 2017, 2018, and 2019. He is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Robert Nisbet: “Stranger”

Stranger
 
Her seat was diagonally opposite mine
the whole of the journey to Paddington.
Village people, city people, families,
came and went. She and I were constants.
 
I’d fetch my coffees from the buffet. She
had her own wholegrain, had beetroot juice.
I read my various papers, magazines,
and she her Germaine Greer in paperback.
 
She had the habit, an unsettling one,
of flickering her hand across her face.
A long brown strand of hair would fall,
regularly, across her forehead.
 
From Paddington, we were quickly swallowed
by London and the Underground, although
I did, for just one moment, wonder
if that was her down-carriage. 
 
It was her though certainly, waiting
in reception, in the news and media office.
Still that hand shadowing its uncertainty
across the tense white face.
 
Next day, I bought the paper, naturally,
to see my piece. There were also photos
of two different women, named. Either
might well have been my stranger.
 
One was a woman due to donate a kidney
to a very sick sister. Another an emerging
political recruit, favoured in the hierarchy,
but now accused of office bullying.
 
Haunted sometimes by that shimmering hand,
the manifest unease, I’ve often hoped
my stranger was the donor woman.
But I honestly cannot be sure.

______________________________________________________________________

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has been published widely in Britain and in the USA, where he was a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2020.

Mark Niedzwiedz: “Dogeared”

Dogeared                                                                 
 
I am well worn, thumbed through, creased at the edges
Always stuck on the same page, always mid-sentence
I can neither avert my eyes, turn thoughts, nor paper
For it is my life’ s work, knowing something of what’s gone before
But no clarity as to what comes next
I live in the now of uncertainty
No future, beyond skittish dreams
My imprint is not a doer, but a fence sitter
Who cannot jump till all the jumbled pieces are boxed
But life is liquid, ebbing and flowing
Formless, seamless, perhaps meaningless
Favouring the page turners who run blindly to the next staging post
Whilst visionaries awaiting the grand vision
Are left wanting - wanting to know
Does God give us patterns?
Glimpses of the eternal to send us on our merry way
Or are we just sleepwalking into nothingness?
Weighty questions, light on answers I fear
For the doomed among us, the poor dogeared

_________________________________________________________________________

From the UK, Mark Niedzwiedz is a professional composer and lyricist. Relatively new to poetry, Mark’s poems so far have appeared in poetry journals such as Grey Sparrow, Oddville Press, Scritura, Wink, Rat’s Arse review, Sac, Literary Heist, Harbinger Asylum, Wordgathering, BlazeVOX, and elsewhere.

Mark Cassidy: “Lenny”

Lenny (circa ’60)

He is sitting alone at the counter of a downtown diner somewhere along the middle of the evening, late in November. Kind Of Blue is playing. People pass by outside the window, their features distorted by the rain streaming on the glass. He smokes a cigarette. He keeps a cup of coffee and a notebook in front of him at all times. He is ready. When it comes, he’s gonna be ready. He’s wearing an open necked white shirt under a corduroy jacket. With patches.

_____Towards midnight a cab will pull up to the kerb, spraying gritty, icy water over the sidewalk, and someone will not get out but will roll the window part way down and peer for a moment into the diner’s interior before pulling away again in the direction of the train station while he lights another cigarette and does not turn around. Later, the rain will turn to snow and the chilly streets will fall silent, swollen with mystery and longing.

________________________________________________________________________

Mark Cassidy writes, “I was born in the UK and emigrated to Canada once my schooling was finished. I have worked all round the world and now live in Texas.”

Shannon Cuthbert: “Thereafter”

Thereafter

My heart in a bucket
in the barn black with ice
and warm lambs lantern-lit
to tease it apart with greedy tongues.
The world revolves
taking with it wolves and pipers
green hills stacked like pears
and me, departing your expanse
in a glass-bottomed boat
doomed to precariousness
my eyes weighed with candlesticks
too white to light.

________________________________________________________________________

Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Collidescope, Bluepepper, and Chronogram, among others, and are forthcoming in Muddy River Poetry Review and Glass: A Journal of Poetry.  

Michelangelo Franchini: “Happy ending”

Happy ending

I  told  the  police  I  tried  to  save  him.  I  said  to  them  I  grabbed  his  legs,  but  he  was  already  dead,  or  so  it  seemed.  They  asked  me  a  lot  of  things,  and  I  can  understand  that  it  may  seem  a  surprisingly  weird  coincidence  that  the  man  who  found  the  hanging  body  is  the  one  who  hates  him  the  most.  Did  I  hate  him?  I  didn’t  deny  I  wanted  him  suffering.  I  told  them  that  his  death  is  nothing  but  a  relief  to  me;  still,  I  tried  to  save  him,  because  when  you  find  someone  committing  suicide,  you  immediately  try  to  help  him.  Also,  I’m  not  good  at  acting.

Elvira  was  the  first  to  arrive.  When  they  told  her  what  happened,  she  was  petrified.  They  said  we  both  were  shocked,  and  maybe  it’s  true.  Elvira  is  a  nurse,  and  that  night  she  was  at  the  hospital.  She  said,  don’t  worry,  we’ll  be  okay.  The  cop  asked  if  I  wanted  psychological  assistance,  but  I  said  I  was  okay.  They  told  me  about  the  analysis  and  the  questions.  Elvira  nodded  and  gave  them  her  cell  number,  just  in  case. 

I  clearly  remember  the  weight  of  that  body,  a  human  body  softly  swinging  from  the  ceiling.  I  tried  to  revive  the  scene  many  times,  while  Elvira  was  listening  to  me  and  holding  my  hand  gently.  She  said  it  was  the  best  thing  to  do,  to  summon  every  detail,  such  as  the  creaky  door,  the  guttural  noises,  the  thud  of  the  body  hitting  the  floor.  She  said  that,  if  I  was  too  anxious,  I  could  have  some  pills,  since  she’s  a  nurse  and  knows  how  to  get  the  right  ones  to  make  me  feel  better.  I  felt  hurt,  and  I  said  that  I  was  okay. 

She  smiled  at  me:  I  knew  you  were  strong  enough. 

I  don’t  blame  her  for  Giorgio.  The  affair  is  now  part  of  a  forgotten  life:  I  recognize  I  was  horrible,  and  even  if  I  didn’t  cheat,  I  treated  her  in  a  way  that  made  her  forced  to  cheat.  They  were  both  drunk  and  unhappy,  it  just  happened—troubling  times,  the  ones  that  made  them  live  together  in  his  beautiful  house.

Are  you  okay?

I  told  her  I  was  okay,  she  smiled.  That  night,  we  went  to  a  restaurant,  and  she  proposed  a  toast  to  our  new  life.  We  had  sex.  The  next  day  I  felt  nervous.  She  was  hysterically  cleaning  the  house.  We  argued.  Then  she  asked  me  if  I  needed  help  to  review  my  story  for  the  police.  I  told  her  I  didn’t. 

At  the  police  station,  I  told  the  cop  I  knew  everything.  They  had  been  lovers.  Marriage  is  a  hard  job.

The  cop  didn’t  seem  doubtful. 

When  I  came  back  home,  Elvira  was  worried.  It  was  all  okay,  I  said,  I  didn’t  even  forget  the  swollen  face  and  the  livid  lips.  She  hugged  me.  Everything  was  okay.  She  said  if  I  had  any  doubt,  I  could  have  the  pills.  I  think  I  may  accept. 

_________________________________________________________________________

Michelangelo Franchini is an Italian author, founder of the artistic collective Yawp. His stories and essays have been published by many Italian literary magazines, such as: Tuffi Rivista, Frammenti Rivista, Pastrengo Rivista, Reader for Blind, Altri Animali, Carmilla, Verde Rivista. He has a bachelor degree in literature.

Sanjeev Sethi: “Go South”

Go South
 
Your flashback
is akin to a planigraph.
Others in the album
forfeit their focus.
By and by
is it tyranny
or the thrill of transition?
All of you is a blur
like the fine print before me
without reading glasses.

________________________________________________________________________

Sanjeev Sethi is published in over 30 countries. He has more than 1350 poems printed or posted in literary venues. He is joint-winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux organized by the Hedgehog Poetry Press. Recent credits: Lummox Poetry Anthology # 9, Pomona Valley ReviewEphemeral Elegies, The Cannon’s Mouth, Rochford Street Review, Otoliths, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Cameron Morse: “Canteen”

Canteen 


Out here with my father     Sun

light   day           Star  bald 

out            Side   any   siding 

with           Out    any   wall


with my father        my water     out

Here           is this      quiet  

corner         my father’s 

house is       heaven       where he lives 

without any siding outside any wall 

                      where he heaves is

the wild       the raw      scalp of silence. 

_________________________________________________________________________

Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New LettersBridge EightPortland Review and South Dakota Review. His first poetry collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Baldy (Spartan Press, 2020). He lives with his wife Lili and two children in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.