About thehuronriverreview

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

Thomas Piekarski: “In Vogue”

In Vogue                                                                                                                              

My fascination with plants goes back to days
when I wondered where we all came from.
When I watered fruit trees and rose bushes
I made no distinction between their existence
yours or mine, deeming all objects measures
of sublimity, subordination or death on arrival.
And I mused about this magnetism people had
for life on a sphere spinning toward oblivion.

In those days I lacked sufficient force
as if I needed a bullhorn to be heard
above the big crowds of protestors
vilifying war and social injustice. 

And then I disintegrated in a bitty microwave
slightly above gravity’s undertow
where trolls multiply amid snow drifts
and werewolves howl to an azure moon
_____________________convincing myself
I could do much better
___would save the guts for when glory
___reveals itself in the buff
___until then call any bluffs      resist
___bellicose demands of the bourgeoisie.                                            

I would add more light to the room
push darkness aside     collect metaphors
extol equanimity      uncompromised.      

______________And now serene yet cruel
______________winter    you    swindler
______________blissful      but you plunder
___and everyone pays the price
so we must get busy
stack wood in our sheds
rub babies with protective ointments.

Industrialists swear deliverance lies ahead
if we stay on track    devoted
to the empire’s schadenfreude.

Cascading toward spring the river quickens
propelled by runoff       it passes through
the delta then bay unto Pacific currents.
Distance ourselves from distain I say
lighten up     seek closure
on animus and pain.        

__________Inside monkey glucose
__________the elephantine recluse
__________empowered entity
__________lacking majesty
__________glows alone
__________in a vacant cosmos
__________wanting not to be
__________obfuscated by reality.

Every dead rose petal lets out a scent
utopian        myopic        capricious
winged phantasm trailing light. 

                                   *

“Mea culpa!” I cried. “Guilty!” I pled
when the Grim Reaper arrived
on a silver sled       his bald head gleamed
teeth shiny bright        he promised to lessen
my load that very night.

His halcyon words encouraged me to rest
free of perdition    feckless      prepared
for the best time I’ve ever had.                                                            

                                   *

At such a time in life when you bid farewell
take your last swill of nectar     final gulp of air
flowers withered nuclear winter come and gone
shallow waters surround         owls extinct
few herons left            you anticipate aftermath.  

________________Fish but faintly lit on ocean’s
________________horizon and an amber sunset
________________suggests you’re at equilibrium
________________experience tells you otherwise
________________and not likely to be forgotten
________________you cede the talisman worn
________________steadfastly around your neck
________________but they say that doesn’t float
________________because you continue to think
________________a thought is a thing and a thing
________________inexcusable blasphemy in fact
________________an idea that went up in flames
________________when Constantine declared gods
________________void then in their place installed
________________truth and light one Jesus Christ.                                          

                                   *

At Locke again beside the thrashing river I’m hushed.
Not a sound     that rudimentary Chinese encampment
built after racists burned them out of Walnut Grove.
Once a thriving gambling haven       welcome retreat
for the indigent     the dispossessed     those reprobates
bet their daily bread not to be denied universal rights.
Pink azaleas in bloom for this is winter    red camellias
voluminous     I walk the long block    decrepit shanties
could become but shambles should an earthquake hit.

If you haven’t visited Xanadu lately   the Parthenon
Machu Picchu   Sistine Chapel try Locke’s mysterious
little Dai Loy museum     recently profiled    exposed
on the Discovery Channel. Equipped with the latest
high tech monitoring devices   ghost voice detector
light meter     motion sensor     the doughty explorers
set out to contact spirits of murdered Chinese
who once lingered there. It’s risky and yet I enter
the creepy museum     this may prove a blunder since
the floor’s so warped I lose balance and almost topple.   

                                   *                    

Adumbrations compound      my wanderlust
sparked by claims that God is good
and God is evil     both impossibly irrational.

______________At vintage Sutter Creek
______________mid Gold Country
______________bikers park beside
______________a bridge    seem high
______________debate the best route
______________meanwhile below
______________mountain water roils
______________splashes on its way
______________to an insightful sea.
___Pressure as to elicit international concern
ratchets      tightens brain bolts
____while hidden from view our planetary retreat
________looms afar         the future transfixed
_____________hordes neutron stars    black holes
and quasars    gestating      poised
_______________for the instant it will birth
_______a new universe.

________________________________________________________________________

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Taj Mahal Review, Poetry Quarterly, Literature Today, Poetry Salzburg, and South African Literary Journal. He has published three books of poetry, Ballad of Billy the Kid, Monterey Bay Adventures, and Mercurial World.

Allan Peterson: Three Poems

Wrong Division                                      
  
Prolate is oblate on its side after a hard day
of arcane political geometries. 
I can visualize the planet but cannot 
see how to solve equations of loss
Some cancel humanity from foreign policy
but I was never good at that 
I always remember in their calculations 
the numerator was always divided by the detonator 

 

Acquittal                                                                                                   
They were all witnesses  They had eyes  They all saw it 
and all agreed wheels because they knew wheels and yes 
something of it turned on itself  Like an island it was said
and yes isolated certainly and fogged over  Well something like fog 
an indistinctness and a rushing like a train  If not train then fire  
that whooshing of outside air drawn to it  Some said it entered
from the right some said left some like pop pop pop 


 
Overstatement                                                                         
Every poem an opportunity to say more than expected
like night is day with the sound turned down
assisted by a certain obscurity and no that is not heaven
that is the original emptiness characteristic of wishes
the origin of cycles so slow we deny change
in dismissive sentences because we expected stability
Imagine our surprise 

_________________________________________________________________________

A visual artist and poet, Allan Peterson’s most recent book is This Luminous, New and Selected Poems, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award.  Other titles include Precarious; All the Lavish in Common (Juniper Prize); and Fragile Acts, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Sophia Vesely: “A week in the life of a teenager:”

A week in the life of a teenager:
  
I ate aged lo mein for breakfast.
   The gas pump was too far from my car.
      I ripped a hole in my favorite turtleneck sweater.
         I fell down the stairs in new heels.
            I carried the bones of a mastodon to a secure location.
               I pretended to mop up the water from the hurricane.
                  A pitbull chased me down the block. 

________________________________________________________________________

Sophia Vesely, 19, is from St. Petersburg, Florida. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Girls Right the World, Bridge Ink, Route 7 ReviewOddville PressTriggerfish Critical Review, and Delmarva Review, among othersShe also has a published poetry collection on Amazon.com entitled “The Road to Amour de Soi” that explores the complexities of first loves and heartbreak in order to empower young women through the notion of self-love.

Allison Whittenberg: “Jane’s Veins”

Jane’s Veins
 
Two diaries: one lies, the other dreams until reality
Loops into illusion.  
Neither records terrorist attacks, murder rates, or evolving leaders.  
One contains measurements of her bust size; one holds friendship and love,   
     pursued, sustained, or in need of resuscitation.   
Both contain hate for prettier girls.  
Each smells soft as if sprinkled with powder.
One is black and plain, that’s kept under her bed.
The other is pink and has birds and flowers on the cover that’s often on 
     her desk.
The world is microscopic. Each night as her wrist moves the pages, she 
     scripts with red juice. 

_________________________________________________________________________

Allison Whittenberg is a Philadelphia native who has a global perspective. If she wasn’t an author she’d be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored and The Sane Asylum.

Michael Lee Johnson: “Family Feud”

Family Feud

Break
in the rain,
thunderstorms;
bolt angular lightning
slithers away west.
Walking,
nanosecond flash
family memories,
personal,
revert,
tautology fault of style
acerbic chats
daggers in heart these words,
confused,
dicey dungeon sharp spike.
A labyrinth, ruined passages,
secret chambers, cellmates, now
for life.
Wind storms move away,
young willow trees natter—
smallest branches, still snap.

_________________________________________________________________________

Michael Lee Johnson lived 10 years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 1098 new publications, his poems have appeared in 40 countries, he edits, publishes 10 poetry sites. 

Christopher Barnes: Two Poems

Fresh

…fortune-bitter.  You sport
a disposition…

     *

…palette knife.  Turf
onto wire rack…

     *

…”Cudgelling fossilized blockhead,”
she lisped…

     *

…our gabber.  Ultimately,
allure…



Bridges Home

…in Crab St.  Rule-book tickles
didn’t…

     *

…not oatmeal.  Fortify
with Quorn…

     *

…history museum,
rubbernecking a colossus…

     *

…I slide back the gateleg,
a torrent of Motown…


_________________________________________________________________________

Christopher Barnes is an award-winning writer and artist who also works in radio and film. 2005 saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES, published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh. In May 2006, he had a solo art/poetry exhibition at The People’s Theatre. He has also written art criticism for Peel and Combustus.

Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah: “Freesia”

_________________________________________________________________________

Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah, who is an algebraist and artist, works in mixed media.  His poetry, songs, prose, art and hybrid have appeared in numerous journals. He lives in the southern part of Ghana, in Spain, and the Turtle Mountains, North Dakota. 

Scott Laudati: “This City”

 
 This City
  
 I’m not kidding.
 I’m dying in this city.
 I was a prude 
 when thunder struck and 
 gave us memory of spring.
 But now I’m sick of eating 
 garbanzo beans
 saving for rent 
 so goddamn high
 even last year’s ghetto
 has a waiting list.
  
 It’s been too hot 
 to go outside this summer.
 The cats long abandoned 
 by breakups 
 and unrenewed leases
 snore
 under the dumpster,
 ignoring rats swimming for 
 cigarette butts 
 floating like 
 dead minnows in green pools 
 that stay deep 
 without rain.
  
 There’s a bum on my block
 I see sometimes.
 He sits on an 
 orange crate
 and doesn’t ask for money when
 Bushwick crawls home
 after last call.
 He doesn’t ask for money
 at noon when Germans
 ask him to point out 
 Roberta’s 
 on a map.
 He doesn’t have time to hustle.
 He’s too busy
 making drum loops
 on his cell phone.
  
 I said hi to him once 
 and he introduced me 
 to his brother--
 another bum named J Bird.
 He was chewing his bottom lip
 and told me
 “The pigeons here
 eat better 
 than most people.
 they’re fat as turkeys,
 stuffed 
 on the best pizza.”
  
 J Bird was an expert 
 on pigeons
 because he made 
 all his crack money
 off of them.
 He said he crippled 
 the birds with a stick
 and sold them
 (boxed by the dozen)
 down in Chinatown.
 An hour later
 the Chinese would put them 
 on the special menu
 as all you can eat squab.
  
 J Bird told me he must have 
 killed
 a million pigeons.
 But he never ate one.
 “They’re too dirty,” he said.
  
 I thought about the things
 I’d done
 to pay my rent
 in New York.
 All the bags I carried
 and the times even the tips
 couldn’t make
 my back feel better.
  
 You know 
 you’re dying
 when you envy 
 the pigeons.
 Beaten up 
 eaten 
 shit out 
 done.
 They tried to do that to me, too.
 In those hotels I clocked in 
 every day.
 A servant with no chains.
 They tried to do that to me, too.
 And they came close.
 I would sit with the housekeepers 
 on my break 
 and wonder 
 “Why don’t
 they
 just finish
 me off?”
  
 It was my smile
 I think. 
 I kept it on no matter what.
 Even when they asked me 
 to get them ice
 to touch their wives
 to touch them
 when we both knew
 there was 
 no tip coming. 
 I kept
 the smile on
 and they saw
 they could take 
 my back 
 and my time
 but they couldn’t
 take my heart.
 I either stopped it 
 from beating
 or 
 hid it very well.
 Sometimes I had to
 pinch myself
 to see if I was
 actually alive.
  
 I spent most of
 my shifts
 flipping between
 murder and suicide.
 Always one call
 away 
 from telling
 my mother
 goodbye.
 But then it would end
 like it ended 
 every day.
 The moon always low
 and the garbage piled so high
 you could climb it
 for perspective.
  
 I studied it all.
 It meant my freedom.
 It all did.
 Even the rats silhouetted
 at the base 
 of 
 the moon. 
 They were mine, too.
 We were all part
 of the city's refuse. 

_________________________________________________________________________

Scott Laudati is the author of Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair (Cephalo Press). Visit him on social media @scottlaudati 

Kevin D. LeMaster: “A collection of stones”

A collection of stones

your mouth is a stone
of smooth silence

agape and rounded
in awe of the world

your lips repeat words
repeat longing without edges

their sound drips into

a puddle of loneliness

I’ve traversed your valley
under cover of night

more than a hundred miles ago

now I watch you sleep
your neck juts forward

like a small dog, lurching
to take back what is hers

________________________________________________________________________

Kevin D. LeMaster lives in South Shore Kentucky. His poems have been found at The Lakes, Appalachian Heritage, Praxis magazine, Rockvale Review, Inkwell, Birmingham Arts Journal, Constellations, Plainsongs, Coe Review, and others. He has had recent work published in SheilaNaGig online and Heartwood Literary Review.

Howie Good: Four Poems

Autumn’s Menace

A plainclothes policeman, using a pair of handcuffs as brass knuckles, cut the face of a boy who was wandering the city in a hospital gown. Sometimes I think it’s just not true that teaching a child to not step on a caterpillar will make you a better person. Sometimes I think the plainclothesman is going to walk through the door, but he hasn’t, so I keep waiting. The city streets are deserted – no parade floats, no people. In these slow days of unease, everyone is a biohazard.

Past Is Prologue

Paris, January 6, 1938. Samuel Beckett was returning from the cinema that night when he was accosted by a tramp, who stabbed him in the chest, just missing his heart. He wasn’t quite the same afterwards. Maps needed to be redrawn. I’m beginning to understand something about it. The ocean feels a little sick right now. Two teenage boys beat a homeless man to death in the park with their skateboards. Stop talking and look up. Ladders cross the blue sky in a wheel of fire. 

Doe-Re-Me

I am writing
at the kitchen table, 
or, rather, 
struggling to, 
when my wife 
excitedly calls me 
to the window 

and points down 
into the yard 
where a doe 
with a coat 
just a shade 
from golden 
is browsing 

on fallen leaves
that if it wasn’t 
for the hours 
I spend trying 
to make poems, 
I would have 
burned long ago. 



Post-Election Stress Disorder

The emperor’s model army marches on, 
bringing with them the suffocating smell of smoke, 
a darkness like mud, while tens of millions 
of just plain folks artlessly demonstrate their devotion 
by cheering threats of kidnapping and murder 
and parading bright new flags that with each wave
in the lie-filled air grow duller and more tattered,  
and when the light dwindles to a final few hours, 
there will be tweet storms and wild speeches
and the military music of boots stamping on faces.

_________________________________________________________________________

Howie Good is the author of The Death Row Shuffle, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.