George J. Searles: from “Verbatim”

from Verbatim

 
#26  
                                                               
He:  So what’s that       
     you’re reading?

She: Joyce.
He:  Joyce who???


#31
 
He: Trust me. This actually happened.
It was in The New York Times!

She: What’s that? Some kind of book or something?


#56

She: I read where global warming is actually good for the caribou; now they      
     can eat vegetation that used to be covered with ice.

He: The caribou. They’re, like…Eskimos?
 
 
#71
 
She: You don’t do nothin’ but sit in front of that t.v. all day like a god-damned prince.
 
He: I’m not a god-damned prince.
 
She: Y’can say that again!
 
 
#102

He: You’re wrong. Lots of people don’t have last names: Madonna, Prince,
    Cher….

She: I’m telling you, he had a last name: Bonaparte…Napoleon Bonaparte.

He: Here’s your Bonerpart…right here.


 
#153
 
She: I can’t stand it. You’re so into yourself right now.
 
He: No I’m not. I’m so into you.
 
She: You wish.
 
 
#161
 
He: Oh, c’mon. Cut her some slack. She can be really funny.
 
She: I know. But not “Ha Ha” funny.
 
 
# 175
 
He: Hey, look. You knew what you were getting when you married me.
 
She: I wouldn’t go that far.
 

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George J. Searles teaches English and Latin at MVCC and has also taught creative writing for Pratt and graduate courses for The New School. A widely-published literary critic, textbook author, and poet, he is a former Carnegie Foundation NYS “Professor of the Year.” He writes that the poems in his manuscript Verbatim are snippets of actual conversation he has overheard.

Roger Singer: “Faithful Cycle”

Faithful Cycle

there on a meadow flat
 
soft and equal with
weeds and flowers
life weeps up
from soil
rich with breath,
the gasp between
heaven and earth,
plain colors, yet healing
to the soul,
a bounty in season,
asleep in winter,
resting till alive
once again

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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 Jazz, SP Quill, Avocet, Underground Voices, Outlaw Poetry, Literary Fever, Dance of my Hands, Language & Culture, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Stray Branch, Toasted Cheese, Tipton 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.

Daniel Edward Moore: “Downpour”

Downpour
 
 
Eerie, the sound honesty makes: three syllables
trickling through lips in a room assumed to be safe & dry.
 
The weatherman said, you stayed for walls only
I could afford. A rancher redone, interrupting ruin,
 
where summers invited wounds to walk in fragrant
gowns of grace- Sweet Alyssum, Honeysuckle. It takes
 
what it takes to translate the bruise into something aromatic,
while watching the sky force the ground to drink the tears of Christ.
 
Eerie, to be a chalice of clouds above the Lake of Fire, a gray
goblet filled with relief hands refused to pour.
 

________________________________________________________________________

Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. His poems are forthcoming in Nebo Literary Journal, Main Street Rag MagazineNixes Mate Review, Lullwater Review, Flint Hills Review, El Portal, Emrys JournalThe Meadow, and West Trade Review. He is the author of Boys (Duck Lake Books) and Waxing the Dents (Brick Road Poetry Press)

Roy Bentley: Two Poems

Little Richard in a Red Suit 
Getting into a Red Cadillac Convertible
 
It’s sometime in the 1980s in New York City.
David Bowie brings a photograph of Little Richard
 
into the studio. Shows it to his collaborator, Nile Rodgers.
Says, Nile, darling, that’s what I want my album to sound like.
 
Rodgers parks his Fender Stratocaster so he can Scotch-tape it—
the photo of Richard Wayne Penniman in a red suit getting into
 
a red Cadillac convertible—to the hexagonal piece of Plexiglas
above the recording console: a black man with Jeri curled hair
 
and loads of Attitude, enough to get him lynched in the South
in the 1950s. And though there are no words for what it says,
 
the photo with the deckled edge, we glimpse Little Richard
and the sum total of his fame thus far. The lack of a smile 

I might translate as: the world adores you until it doesn’t.
David Bowie adores him. And knows tutti frutti means
 
“all fruits” in Italian, that A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-
wop-bam-boom is untranslatable: a drum-beat rhythm
 
the Architect of Rock 'n' Roll claims to have dreamed
then risen from deep sleep to repeat like a shibboleth
 
or clandestine chord to be performed to gain entry
into whatever ungated heaven is left him, left us.



Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
 
Lucinda Williams’ song unfolds in a mythic South,
her telling kids, whether real or imagined, to pick up
after she goes. Hence, the car wheels on a gravel road.
 
I hate to say it, but the wheel is what we put a Michelin
or Goodyear or Firestone or Pirelli onto: it’s the mount.
That aside, the singer is telling kids to do something.
 
Her intention to love them and be someone they trust,
but Creation is restless. Part of her wishes to be gone,
on the road. She fantasizes summertime in the South,
 
though she knows the godawful history like it’s hers.
In the song, either side of this metaphorical roadway,
there are July-ripe cotton fields for mile upon mile.
 
Louisiana is a big Crayola box of coloration. And
what better metaphor for the human condition than
the Crayola box with the built-in sharpener: wanting
 
all the colors. If there is a gladiator, you need blood
red as daybreak over open country. Gladiatorial gore
that cottons the floor of the Colosseum. The world
 
being what it is, the imaginary champion is awaiting
wound-stitching and a bed of straw. Maybe a woman
when strong again—if she’s called in from the fields,
 
she carries the rage of leaf-fall: the scents of the world
and lovers falling back after lovemaking, looking up
to watch the so-called wheel of night-sky stars turn.
 

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Roy Bentley, a finalist for the Miller Williams prize for Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has published eight books, including American Loneliness from Lost Horse Press, who is bringing out a new & selected. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, and Shenandoah among others. Hillbilly Guilt, his latest, won the Hidden River Arts / Willow Run Poetry Book Award and awaits publication.

Phillip Barcio: “Muddy Waters”

Muddy Waters

I see thousands of me standing on the sidewalks, riding the subway, lying in the grass and walking on the beach.

Who is teaching us not to trust?

The lady next to me at Muddy Waters coffee house on Valencia Street got up from her seat and walked outside to talk to someone on her cell phone. She left her laptop sitting out on the table, along with her wallet, open, with a credit card sticking out of it.

About fifteen minutes later she came back in. Everything was still sitting there exactly as she had left it. She looked at me and laughed and said, “I must be pretty trusting!”

“Why shouldn’t you be?” I asked.

What, just because this is an economically depressed neighborhood in a large American city? Just because there are desperate, homeless people asleep in almost every doorway? Just because every morning the business owners around here spend half an hour washing the urine and human feces and vomit off the sidewalk in front of their cafes and shops? What’s any of that got to do with trust?

What she didn’t know was that while she was outside talking on her phone, I counted eight people who came in off the street, ordered at the counter and left again, walking right past her stuff. One was a trembling, disheveled man in a filthy coat. He shuffled up to the counter and stared longingly at the Iranian woman who owns the cafe. She smiled at him, reached into her tip jar, pulled out some change and handed it to the man. The gentle creases around her smiling eyes as she handed him the money looked to me like sun rays lighting up the room with love.

How many other laptops and credit cards resting on vacant tables had this man walked past on his way here?

I’m not an idealist. I am only speaking from my own experience. Most people will not steal from you, even if they have the chance.

Most people will not hurt you, even if you deserve it.

Most people are ready to share whatever they have with whoever truly needs it.

Most people love each other without hesitating.

There are no enemies, only collaborators in the creation of moments, all waiting to find out what we’re going to do together next.

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Phillip Barcio is a fiction author, arts journalist and host of the Apocalypse Mixtape radio show. His writing has appeared in Western Humanities Review, Michigan Quarterly Review online, Space Squid, The Swamp Ape Review, and various other fine publications. He can be stalked at philbarcio.com, or around Evanston, Illinois.

Grace Maselli: “To Overlook”

To Overlook

She plunges into water, feet first and naked except for her patent leather Mary Janes, shoes she found on corrugated metal in a junk yard, fearless of depth, she swims the water, then gets out to walk the silver sands in her sun-dried Mary Janes to Roadside America and its 8,000 square feet of miniature village, to get more perspective on the world she’s part of, to overlook the little village, to see the world she’s part of from a height of 5’ 8”, fearless of scale she pivots and runs to roses made of headlights, as the heels of her cracked Mary Janes begin to splay from wear, fearless of what disintegrates, as she searches in sunshine, as she searches and draws closer, as she searches and weeps for the angels in all those junk yards, in all those searches for ghosts in junk yards where she hunts to find pieces of the past she’s lost, fearless of that inscription her dead husband writes 12 years earlier, the one with her name and the names of their two kids and his own name, the names he writes in cement 12 years earlier and rings in a heart he draws with the corner angle of a spackle knife, the one he finds on corrugated metal in a junk yard, the heart he draws in wet cement as he rebuilds her kitchen that she overlooks from a height of 5’ 8”, while she stands in her broken-hearted Mary Janes and replays the scene, this time as she extends her hand to him, the one that connects from her pumping heart and through the angel that waits for him sooner than she ever imagines the angel could, to mirror the heart he draws, to mirror love, to mirror the inscription inside the heart in cement he will cover forever in ceramic tile, never to be seen again.

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Grace Maselli‘s work has appeared in Cleaver MagazinePoydras ReviewStreetlight MagazineThe Penmen Review42 Magazine, and Barometric Pressures. Her poem, “Queen of African Violets,” was the 2019 first-place winner in the Jacaranda Poetry Contest sponsored by the Pasco Fine Arts Council and the Cannon Memorial Library at Saint Leo University, St. Leo, FL. She studied in New York City at the Writers Studio founded by poet and author, Philip Schultz. Grace lives in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. She’s at work on a new collection of poetry and flash.

Megan Lee: “A Day In”

A Day In 
 
For twenty-four hours,
everything was strawberries,
 
sweet on my tongue.
Snow blanketed the ground
 
as we ate seasoned meatballs.
I think of Union Square
 
and the best truffle gnocchi
I’ve ever had. 
 
Outside, people shovel their cars
from the depths and drive away,
 
their lights like the heads of flies.
I wonder if they can see me from the window.
 
I could miss so many faces
if I forget to look backwards.
 
I could miss a whole cathedral.
I could forget to miss his face
 
while I talk of love all day.
I’m slowly tricking myself.
 
At least my skin is allowed to be naked.
Tingling like carbonated lemonade under my hands.
 
The forgetting makes me fearful of easy smiles,
scared of feeling cold red flowers
 
resting on my chest.

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Megan Lee is a student studying law. She enjoys writing poetry in her spare time. 

Emalisa Rose: “waterfalling”

waterfalling

up from
the peripheral
streaming the
vertical

pounding the
shutters

your trifecta
pitch perfect
lexicon of
water wisdom

dousing me
window side
in the rococo

the craving to
delve into you

to finger your
braille words

..waterfalling

etching my
tributaries
riding your river
of afterthoughts 

somehow you knew...

i was longing
to slither

back under 
your rain rhythms

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Emalisa Rose is a poet, dollmaker, crafts artist. She has worked in Special Education and animal rescue. She has been published in several online journals. When she is not writing, she is created a bond with her 6 grandkids, trying to instill in them a love for art and an understanding of kindness.

Marjorie Sadin: “Sometimes it’s best to be a little deaf.”

“Sometimes it’s best to be a little deaf.” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
 
You cough in your sleep and curs
I try to listen to you, but can’t.
You praise me, you scold me or worse.
I’ve grown accustomed to your rants.
 
I try to listen to you, but can’t.
Sometimes it’s best to be a little deaf.
I’ve grown accustomed to your rants.
Despite your complaints I have not left.
 
Sometimes it’s best to be a little deaf.
The truth is I love you
And despite your complaints I have not left.
No matter what you do
 
The truth is I love you
You cough in your sleep and curse.
No matter what you do
Even praise me, scold me or worse.
 

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Marjorie Sadin is a nationally published poet. She has five books of poems in print, including a full-length book, Vision of Lucha, about struggle and survival, love, death, and family. Recently, Marjorie published a new chapbook, In a Closet.  She lives and reads her poetry in the Washington DC area.

James Thurgood: “rum-pot”

rum-pot
 
     how many autumn months 
from its annunciation
     did it ferment
     in under-counter dark
 
revealed Christmas night,
     it drowned cake
     with sweetness
     – we pushed away
sticky bowls – then piled in more,
     half-wittingly grew drunk
by candlelight, as snow
     snuggled up outside
     – my sister and I
with then-spouses (small cousins
     asleep down the hall)
 
                          finally
     amid groans and giggles
hands dropping limp to bellies
     pledges of abstinence,
     the rich mess dumped in,
the pot was capped
 
– to re-emerge
daily the Twelve Days
    – last syrup crumbs
shoved into my mouth
     like medicine,
     the washed pot
was hidden away
 
                after,
mention of ‘rum-pot’
     was a joke –
while we still laughed
     at failed recipes

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James Thurgood was born in Nova Scotia, grew up in Windsor, Ontario, and now lives in Calgary, Alberta.  He has been a labourer, musician, and teacher – not necessarily in that order. His poems have appeared in various journals, anthologies, and in a collection (Icemen/Stoneghosts, Penumbra Press). He is also the author of His Own Misfortune, a work-in-progress.