Pat Snyder Hurley: “Letters and Numbers”

Letters and Numbers

Down the side of page one in his gray softback journal he squeezed the letters

R
G
B

then across from each, like notes on a staff, an inscrutable series of zeroes and ones that reflected some unknowable pattern lodged in his astronomer’s brain—

maybe Red Green Blue to color in the Fibonacci spiral he printed on his business cards when the cancer returned

or nonsensical numbers for the Black Belt Sudoku puzzle he still pushed through with his morning oatmeal

or in the final days a single haunting code pulsing through leaf and cosmos that he had begun to write himself into

and then all those blank pages

left for me.

 

Pat Snyder Hurley is a Pushcart-nominated poet from Columbus, Ohio, who has been published in literary journals including Pudding Magazine, Poydras Review, Snapdragon, and the Passager Journal, as well as the chapbook Hard to Swallow (NightBallet Press, 2018). You can find her online at pathurleypoet.com

Mary Shanley: “bleached blonde beehive”

bleached blonde beehive

a short order cook makes
small talk with the waitress
while waiting for exactly
the right moment to flip
two eggs over easy and
serve ’em up with bacon
to his favorite lady
customer who sings along
with the jukebox as she
taps out rhythms on the
table at the back booth
where she sits every
morning in her gold
sequin dress looking
like she could have
been one of the Motown
singers I used to watch
on t.v. every afternoon

and dream of the day
that dick clark would
be introducing me
as the latest sensation
to hit the pop charts
and all across America
kids would run home
from school to watch
me going through the
motions of an elaborately
choreographed routine
as I lip synch a stack
of finger poppin’ tunes

kinda like the ones
that lady in the back
booth keeps playing
every morning.

I listen to her singing
while ringing up checks
in my hot pink lipstick
and bleached blonde
beehive I’m the hottest
cashier this burg ever saw
and by the time Christmas
rolls around I’ll probably
have enough money to make
the final payment on that ’66
mustang I bought from my
brother joey for half of what
it’s worth.

 

Mary Shanley is a poet/storyteller, living with her wife in New York City.
She has had a book of poetry, Hobo Code Poems, published by Vox Pop, Brooklyn.
She self-published, through her imprint, Side Street Press, two books of poetry
and one book of short stories. She is a frequent contributor to online journals.
She was the Featured Poet on WBAI radio, NYC and was nominated for a Pushcart
Prize.

Simon Perchik: Five Poems

*
Side by side a planet that has no star
you wander for years
which means remorse has taken hold

the way this dried love note
never lets go its warmth
though the afternoon becomes a place

for constellations, is wobbling
as silence and the end
–where else can it hide

is more forgiving than a period
left where a well-meaning sentence
gave all it had and for the first time

a darkness was falling from above
bird-like, spreading out as far away
around and around, over and over again.

*
Gradually, you can tell from its silence
this fence was building a bridge
though it’s the rust spreading out

that makes it so –you think it’s plankton
and how hurried was the river
when each afternoon still reaches out

becomes a sea again, heating the sun
with the same shadow
that leans against this iron gate

lets its great weight open the Earth
though nothing is left in your arms
is held anymore –you think it’s raining

as if that’s all there is in the water
that could help you breathe
without leaning over.

*
You clam though it’s the sea falling away
lets this rake threaten it yet go free
taking you along, knows all about going off

disguised as a night that reeks from salt
to keep from sinking –you reach for the bottom
the way your casket disappeared with a candle

made from paper –it was an old love note
in pencil, with nothing on the back
then folded over and over to fit into your hands

as moonlight –even now this long, wood handle
ties you dead to water –you hear the splash
giving up, lying down, at last what it wanted.

*
This paint is wet though when you weep
it flakes –the wall knows close
is too close, starts to turn away which means

it’s breaking open for steam, somehow
a few sparks and after that your tears
will cool, at last a hilltop lake, far off

still making its final descent as a second sky
–two skies and what you breathe in
are the pieces broken off those stars

that would become the sea and never dry
let you witness each wave slowly going off alone
from your eyes that have forgotten how.

*
Upside down, as if this cup
was once a blossom
would overflow with the tears

mourners fill then row ashore
–it’s empty, close to the grass
though her grave is still damp

from this hillside washing over it
scraping from these headstones
a lighthouse for each wooden boat

pulled from the sea –you heard
a trumpet when the cup capsized
is done, put down its sound

as if there was nothing to lower
that wasn’t crushed on these rocks
still trying to lift, one after another.

 

Simon Perchik‘s poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.

William Doreski: “A Damp Spot”

A Damp Spot

A damp spot in the forest.
Mist rises and clots the pine-tops,
erasing distance that enables
my sense of simple geography.

You never worry about your grip
on the planet, and ignore me
when I worry that gravity
will fail on my daily walk
and set me adrift in shades
of gray lacking innuendo.

You rake wet leaves into piles
shaped like extinct animals.
When I help you drag tarp-loads
into the woods I feel funereal.

Bored and exhausted by yard work,
I visit that damp spot and breathe
the mist, absorbing as much of it
as my slack old lungs can swallow.
If I were still a man among men
I’d lie in that muck and expect
to sink deeply enough to anchor
my body where it belongs.

You’d never bother searching
for my papery little remains,
but would collect my insurance
and rake away your modest grief.

More rain coming. I’ll cover
the firewood I split this morning,
then slip indoors for a sip
of the six-dollar vodka hidden
behind a bag of cat litter
where it almost never tempts me
to pour it all over myself
and pretend I’ve gone up in flames.

 

William Doreski‘s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall.

Robert Okaji: “Lying in Bed, I Think of Breakfast”

Lying in Bed, I Think of Breakfast

The moon smiles and I lie here thinking
of the simple breakfasts I would cook for
us: sticky rice with scrambled eggs and
sauteed peppers, or toasted boule with bacon
jam and a side of sliced peaches. And coffee.
Always coffee, black and bitter. But circumstance
dictates other courses, other time zones, and you
wake in your city as I walk in mine, an early
shopper plundering the store’s vegetable
bins, wandering the aisles in search of a
bargain and that special ingredient missing
from my tired, inconsolable days.

 

Robert Okaji lives in Indiana. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kissing Dynamite, Clementine Unbound, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere.

Gerard Sarnat: “Rooster in the Night No. 2”

Rooster in the Night No. 2

The shallows in earnest, candles sputter,
burn molecules might fuel extra hours not to be.

Ears ring, cheeks turn pink
imagining my love imagine me.

She chants the song of her soul these forty-nine days
I sit with the urn, cry stars into her ashen sky.

The valley of shadows disorders time
as I fumble prayer beads.

My thumbs sense a scuffle to take earthly leave,
hurtle away on cinnamon and blue bardo wings.

Funneled through dusk’s gray cocoon melee,
untethered, a radiant silk moth dawns past mourning’s crow.

 

Gerard Sarnat is a physician who’s built and staffed current homeless and ex-prisoner clinics as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently Gerry is devoting energy/ resources to deal with global warming. Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for a handful of recent Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published in academic-related journals (University Chicago, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, University of San Francisco) plus national (Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Free State Review, Poetry Circle, Poets And War, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Texas Review, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and The New York Times) and international publications including Review Berlin. He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids, five grandsons with a sixth incubating.

John Grey: “It Came to Me in a Dream”

It Came to Me in a Dream

Wedged between one page and the next
were eight hours of sleep
and who knows how many of dreams.

I woke to my head on the pillow,
words everywhere
like gnats.

I grabbed at them
but most darted off
or disintegrated.

Before I pulled back the sheets,
all that I had were a few syllables
and even they

were fighting my grip,
trying to escape.
By the time, I got them

to the computer keyboard,
all I had in my possession
were the odd sound,

one or two letters
and a punctuation mark.
You might think I’d feel defeated.

But really,
on a good day
that’s all it takes.

 
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dunes Review, Poetry East, and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in Qwerty, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review, and failbetter.