R. Nikolas Macioci: “Edna St. Vincent Millay Is Dead”

Edna St. Vincent Millay Is Dead

Her legs buckle at the top of the stairs.
Her heart, the timepiece of hell, stops.
She cannot watch the fall
because her mind is stone black.
Fingers no longer grasp air.
Her lifeless body jounces down each step
and crumples at the bottom in a drift
of blue nightgown and matching slippers.
For eight hours her broken beauty lies
undiscovered. The nearest neighbor lives
a mile away. She no longer hears owls hoot
in the Berkshire Hills or the scrape of
October’s yellow leaves claw the window.
The key turns in the lock of the back door
The caretaker, James Pinnie, enters
to start the evening fire. He ambles
down the hallway, turns the corner
into the foyer and discovers her face down.
He feels for the pulse, touches her
still pallid flesh.  Shock of discovering her
beneath layers of silk compels him
to call the coroner. “Miss Millay is dead,” he says
into the phone. “You mean the poet?” he hears
on the other end. “Yes. The poet.”
The coroner arrives, lays his bowler on the side table,
bends into his pronouncement of finality.
The two men stand silent as they wait
for the undertaker and family to arrive.
A sudden ray of orange dawn spreads across
hardwood floor, stains the end of her
wealthy manners and luxurious decay.


Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks as well as nine books: Critics and judges called his first book, Cafes of Childhood, a “beautifully harrowing account of child abuse,” but not “sentimental” or “self-pitying,” an “amazing book,” and “a single unified whole.” Cafes of Childhood was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 2021, he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net award. More than two hundred of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including Chiron, Concho River Review, The Bombay Review, and Blue Unicorn.

Richard Dinges, Jr.: “Sorrow”

Sorrow

A slow melt that
blurs vision, flows
across taut skin
to pull down cheeks
into a jaw
that sags, my self
oozes memory
to rejoin a past
that only mocks
me, a puddle
in the middle
of a firm wood
floor and a phone 
that hangs limply
from outstretched arm.


Richard Dinges, Jr. lives and works by a pond among trees and grassland,
along with his wife, two dogs, three cats, and five chickens. Hurricane
Review, Thin Air, Oddball, Illuminations, and Willawaw Journal most
recently accepted his poems for their publications.

Wilson Koewing: “Feather”

Feather 

Sometimes you do sit by the pool and look past it to the sections of light that dissect the property. And the trees and the grass below and the light and shade. Then the mountain beyond and then the clouds. And after that it’s unclear but vast and large. And you can be left there to stew by those you love because you had a few too many on a Monday holiday. But that’s all right. Because the truth is that living is understanding what happened from the beginning and realizing that that’s what everything is. So maybe you take another sip and remember being a child. Innocent, and the neighbor girl who said show you mine if you show me yours and your dad’s van and the time your mom said there was a big surprise for dinner, and it was cauliflower and you never forgot how much that angered you. But it’s like your dad always said. Life isn’t fair. Though maybe he was wrong, and life is fair. And maybe it’s okay but simply didn’t live up to your expectations. Maybe you aren’t special. Maybe your life won’t mean anything. Maybe you were supposed to be something you didn’t become. And now float endlessly on an unfamiliar path. It’s funny that we believe we will become anything at all. Or that anything will ever matter.

 


Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. His work has recently appeared in Hobart, Maudlin House, Wigleaf, and X-R-A-Y. His memoir “Bridges” is forthcoming from Bull City Press. 

 

Robert Okaji: Two Poems

Scarecrow’s Wealth

Who needs words when you own the wind?
When wingtips flash and you embrace the subtleties
of reflection and shrugs and the next moment’s
glee. My friends bring me bits of each day. 
Today, the bright cap lifted from a cava bottle’s
cork. Three days ago, an aluminum half-heart
stamped with “best.” The rodent-nibbled straw hat 
perched jauntily atop my head bears a pearl 
earring, and yesterday a skeleton 
key materialized in my left coat pocket,
in which a mouse skull and foil wrappers
also rest. My wealth abounds, and despite
protests, I am rewarded daily. Look, they say, 
accept these offerings for what they are: participation 
in joy. So I point to choice grains, contribute advice 
and song, screech warnings and recite poetry, 
though my straw tongue often wavers.
What else may I tender to those who travel
so freely? Last week a polished hinge
came to me, and before that, a chipped glass
eye, which might someday replace my missing 
ocular button, should needle and thread appear. 
Each day is a gift to be shared. Every gift, 
a celebration of days, a commitment to living.
I am grateful, and in my gratitude, give.

Cells

That morning I kneaded dough.
The rose wilted in its cup by the window.
Day folded into night.

What matters? Who?
I don’t know why hope dwindles.
Or how cells grow or navigate. Or
divide. Or keep living. What precedes change?

By candlelight, I sliced bread,
buttered it with a broad, dull blade.
Tossed a piece to my dog.

Planned the next move.


Robert Okaji is a displaced Texan living in Indiana. He holds a BA in history, served without distinction in the U.S. Navy, is the author of multiple chapbooks, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Boston Review, Vox Populi, and elsewhere.

Simon Perchik: Five Poems

*
Inside this statue’s mouth its tongue
was run aground the way wave after wave
each fossil still hears itself becoming stone

and though the sea is just now taking place
your headstone says the darkness helps
 ̶ there’s nothing else, the voice you hear

is yours, again and again from your lips
as boundary stones, half sealed in the ground
half on all sides the years to come

as some hillside that no longer has its ballast
on the lookout, that waits for a wider shore
hemmed in, using the time over and over

to tighten around those bottom stones
mourners use to bring you nothing that moves
that feeds you salt, was brought by boat.

*
The rag you fold into a loop
knows better, flattening out
where a window should be

though night after night its soot
lifts off the way piece by piece
a sleeve empties into your hand

as moonlight  ̶ it was a dress
motionless, waiting at the wall
for her arm, the usual talk.

*
As if the sun was lost again, its light
crashing into this hillside already covered
with empty bottles, cans and the foul breath

left by a small fire after things didn’t work out
 ̶ your eyes still smoldering from nights
with enough rainfall for you to come back

healed by tears, by your  footsteps wiping dry
what dirt falls from your mouth
as something certain, could be counted on.

*
Every night now you circle the same lamp
become weightless though the bulb
is burning through a gap in the wires

the way madness arrives as darkness
and shoreline  ̶ the usual maneuver
 ̶ you reach in for the light

not yet struck by a wall kept waiting
for the sound that has no place to go
hears where the sun is buried

still breathing, lit, over and over
reaching for salt from the emptiness
in this room heated by a bed

and what’s left from a window
to put out the wound
reeking from ashes and cloth.

*
Too early? Even so, the sun
is backing out though this orchard
was already tilted into Autumn

by the flowers mourners use
to lower one season closer to another
the way every death here

begins as two :an added weight
that heats your forehead
till it touches where the ground

listens for the motherly darkness
made from stone that arrived
as two evenings at once, made heavier

for the kiss beginning a few feet away
still warm, not yet November
is leaving your face thinner, more like bones.


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

Holly Day: Two Poems

Clinging To

We all want to leave a ghost behind, to believe
that our passing from this world will leave such a vacuum
that some remnant of what we were had to stay behind
that the walls and the floors of our house
take enough interest in our activities
to hold the energy of our traumas to replay
for future audiences.

There have to be ghosts, because we are so important
to ourselves and the people we surround ourselves with
there had to be at least some tiny flicker left behind
or some imposing force that lets you know
somebody else once lived in this house
someone who’s no longer here.

 

The Cottage

If you stay in this room for too long
you will become a part of my fairy tale
initially cast in the role of a prince or a villain
doomed to eventually shrink to the status of a talking mouse
or an abandoned spinning wheel. This is what happens

when people let me write them into my life.
There is only room for one main character
in my story, and I can’t afford the time to write in the supporting cast
as anything but flat and one-dimensional.

 


Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).

 

Roger Singer: “Head Clearing”

Head Clearing

feeling lost
but not afraid
I quickly move
among levels
of nearby shadows
on a walk with
evening,
attempting
to wear out the
approaching
darkness
and uncounted stars,
as winds close in
on my heels
attempting to
push me
off center
___________________________________________________________________
Dr. Singer is the Poet Laureate of Old Lyme, Connecticut. He has had over 1,150 poems published on the internet, magazines, and in books and is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Award Nominee. He is also the President of the Shoreline Chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society. Some of the magazines that have accepted his poems for publication are:  Westward Quarterly, Jerry JazzSP QuillAvocetUnderground VoicesOutlaw PoetryLiterary FeverDance of my HandsLanguage & CultureAdelaide Literary MagazineThe Stray BranchToasted CheeseTipton Poetry Journal, Ambassador Poetry Award Massachusetts State Poetry Society, Louisiana State Poetry Society Award 2019, Arizona State Poetry Society Award 2020, and Mad Swirl Anthology 2018 and 2019.

Jakima Davis: “Bob Dylan’s Blues”

Bob Dylan’s Blues 

The blues isn’t but a sandwich
With a cup of sorrow 
Sweet home New York 
Under the blue skies 
Cover in a piece of cloth 

Let’s forgive the boy 
Charley Patton will understand
Water’s everywhere 
The eye of the storm 
Battle rap of the century 

A thousand words in time
Somewhere out there 
Television’s a savior 
Let’s change the world 
Instead of complaining 

Urban cowboy rides again
Cream cheese and lox 
Cornbread and black eyed peas
Drinking tea on the beach
Stain on the notebook page

Calls to the president 
Or maybe Martin and Malcolm
Both can change the world
One Man can make it happen
Mistakes from the past 

Roasting and toasting 
Having very few peers 
Stuck on this country grammar
More game than basketball
Bagels and Need a drink of water 

Ribbons should be released
Freedom should be free
Television’s an addiction
Take off the weave


Jakima Davis writes, “I’ve been writing poetry for 21 years. I’ve been published in underground publications, including Conceit and Amulet magazines, The PEN, misfits, among others. I published three chapbooks in 2016 and 2020. I’m expecting my first full- length book of poems to be published in the following year. As of now, I’m posting my poems of Facebook to gain a fanbase.”

Brian Rihlmann: “Question in a Stray Cat’s Eyes”

Question in a Stray Cat’s Eyes

I like living in a place
where stray cats roam
there’s a white fluffy one around
I’ve seen several times

today I step out
as he’s padding down the sidewalk
I sit in my doorway
and say Psst!
he stops, turns,
and looks at me
then continues on his way

Psst! Psst! I say
holding out my hand
as he pauses
and looks again
his narrowed eyes clearly asking—
What do you want
you idiot?

I know because
I’ve been seeing
that same question
in the mirror
for years 

it’s a good one
all right


Brian Rihlmann lives in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Chiron Review, The Main Street Rag, The American Journal Of Poetry, and New York Quarterly. He has authored three collections of poetry, most recently “A Screaming Place,” (2021) by Cajun Mutt Press.

John Tustin: “Being Alone So Often”

Being Alone So Often

Being alone so often
I read Aristophanes for laughs
While I drink 15 beers
And continuously look out the window
To see if that big white truck is still out there.
Eventually Hank Williams stops by
And gives me a slip of paper
That contains the most amazing couplets
Before getting into the backseat of his Cadillac
And verily dying.
The slip of paper gives me the slip
Between beer 14 and 15
So I go back to Aristophanes
And read until I nearly piss my pants,
Having temporarily forgotten that the toilet
Is only fifteen steps away.

Anyway,
Why is that big white truck still out there
While Williams’ caddie is long gone
Without even the memory of a taillight
In the road?


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.