Marc Janssen: Two Poems

Always Returning III

The Cynic and the Poem



Marc Janssen started writing many novels but didn’t finish any of them. He’s a sprinter. Janssen did complete a poetry collection, November Reconsidered, published by Cirque Press. His verse can be found scattered around the world in places like Pinyon, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast, and Poetry Salzburg. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate. 

Kim Farleigh: “Make Believe”

Make Believe

We were driving down the city’s main road, my father’s cheeks twitching, a stress rash reddening his face. Short-lived supernovae, flashing upon approaching windscreens, gleamed like “brilliant” ideas.

“They’re jealous,” my father said, “about me having Western Australia.”

Silence normally reigned when he drove. 

A hovering magpie forced a kid up against a tree trunk, how to escape current circumstances a common dilemma. 

“Jealousy towards a big fish in a small pond,” my father said.

I didn’t know what he meant. His green eyes’ intensity highlighted their smallness. Green parrots, a local species, dotted the street’s powerlines. They faced sudden death. We faced slow deterioration.  

A bus flashed past a bus stop. Ignorant it was an express, a man waved an angry arm. Deeper inaccuracies affected my father.

“Yesterday,” he said, “I made some guys walk back to the Highway Hotel, where we’d been drinking, from that street there.”

The Highway Hotel was a mile away. The area’s houses, behind high walls, exuded emboldening intimacy. Outside that intimacy, anonymity disappeared, enhancing failure’s embarrassments. 

“They didn’t believe it when I said I’d bought a property here,” he said. “We got into my car at the pub and drove to the property. I had the title deeds in my glovebox.”

Where else are title deeds kept? 

I battled our mutual inadequacy. Someone I had known years before, whom I had recently run into, had asked: “Are you still full of bullshit?”

“They said,” my father continued, eyes like green fires of dismay, “that I couldn’t have bought it. Showing them the title deeds shut them up. I said I didn’t buy it, I snared it. The previous owner had inherited it. She needed cash fast, so she made a quick sale. When they tried getting into the car to go back to the pub, I told them to walk back.”

His satisfaction’s brittleness opposed success’s solidity. Power creates reality, influence and cunning needed for that.       

An ambulance, desperate for arrival, shot by, its red lights flashing like my father’s green eyes. 

Years later, I realised he had been sacked for dispensing with potential clients. He had once said: “I dispense with small-order time wasters.”

But small expands. 

His first date with the property owner’s simple, but sympathetic, daughter, just before the Title Deed Incident, had flung his imagination over the precipice of exaggeration, stimulating another of his creations of success. 

Only my brothers and the property owner’s family went to his funeral. 


Kim Farleigh has worked for NGOs in Greece, Kosovo, Iraq, Palestine and Macedonia. He likes painting, art, bullfighting, photography and architecture, which might explain why this Australian lives in Madrid. 188 of his stories have been accepted by 109 different magazines.

     

Katacha Díaz: “The Night of the Butterflies”

The Night of the Butterflies

She dreamed a linear dream.

She flew somewhere along the River, between mountains covered with lush vegetation,
and over a giant canopy, like an umbrella, of brilliant green tall trees.

She was fascinated by the large showy orchids and other exotic flowers blooming
in the tops of the forest.

This surreal journey included floating through an array of colored wings and dazzling
golden-orange butterflies. She saw shiny chrysalises and was intrigued by the
structurally impressive cocoons alongside butterflies stretching newly formed wings
in this tropical oasis.

Then, rather suddenly, she was awake, and was in the bedroom alone. No cloud of butterflies;
no giant flowers, or Tarzan’s vines and strangler figs with dangling roots climbed the walls.
They had been there moments before, she knew, but no longer.

She smiled. Isn’t it sublime and exciting to reconnect with nature’s gifts in a dream,
satisfying a severe case of the travel bug during the coronavirus global pandemic.

The Amazon rainforest is a magical place full of hidden treasures.
— A journey to explore tropical Eden beckons!


Katacha Díaz is a Peruvian American writer. Wanderlust and love of travel have taken her all over the world to gather material for her stories. Her work appears with Shimmer Spring, Hibiscus, Galway, Pangolin, Ethos, Poetry Pacific, Muddy River, Skipping Stones, Taj Mahal, among others. Katacha lives in the Pacific Northwest.

William Doreski: Two Poems

Down the Mississippi

Rafting down the Mississippi,
we’re simple enough to enjoy
starlight flexing in the current
and the grimace of sunlit bluffs.
We hope we achieve New Orleans
without tripping over a snag
or grinding up on a sandbar.

We aren’t like Huck and Jim evading
the clutch of civilization.
We aren’t like the bargemen 
toting grain, cotton, soybeans,
sand, fertilizer, coal, and gravel
from this desolation to that.
We’re more like retired couples

enjoying cruises with mobs
of bridge and bocci players.
We lack the mobs, of course,
but we can mock the expressions
of the white-haired people in ads.
The river carries so much silt
we’re surprised there’s farmland left

to farm. Villages above
the high-water mark regard us
with disdain. Villages below
annual flood level look desperate.
We drift without steering, trusting
the muscular flow to shape us
to its will. The days and nights

peel like old wallpaper, exposing
landscapes too plain to inspire.
We’ll arrive somewhere, but how
to distinguish it from nowhere?
The river groans with old age
but never loses its focus,
every drop of water employed.

Some Local Archeology

In the ruins of the high school
I find, among shards and cinders,
bits of human bone. They glow
like opals, intelligent even
in their fragmentary state.
You with your metal detector
scout for coins and other trash,
your grimace focused so firmly
I wouldn’t dream of disturbing you.
I’m going to collect all the bone
to calculate the mass of life
lost when the old structure burned,
twenty years before I was born.
No one bothered to bulldoze the site.
No one cares that the town no longer
sends its adolescents to school.
For many years they’ve stayed home,
birthing from the age of thirteen,
shipping half their human crop
every year to state institutions.
The bone-bits are so weathered 
they’re almost wholly mineral,
fossilized scraps of people
we might have attempted to love,
or at least tolerate. Ivy,
that ironic vine, shrouds the walls
with their gaping window holes
framing views of violet hills.
The blocks of reddish sandstone
retain a certain integrity,
the material itself much older
than the ruins of Athens or Rome.
You find an Indian head penny
and a liberty dime. Let’s quit
for now. You can buy us lunch,
and I’ll show you the bones I’ve found
and maybe you can name them.

 


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Dogs Don’t Care (2022). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.

Kristy Snedden: “Fog Forecast”

Fog Forecast

After his accident
fog entered our home.
It lifted on my way

to the gym or the office
each morning
when the sun finally

sailed high enough
to unfurl my thoughts,
to remember my best friend

said to call her today or
wonder if the landlord fixed
the plumbing. I forget

the fog is at home.
Last night he greeted me
in the carport

to tell me he took
the dog’s medicine.
He said it with a little

chuckle. Then we rested
in our chairs. The sun gave
her last glint as she slid behind

the mountain and the dark inched
through our house until, finally,
the fog covered me too.


Kristy Snedden has been a trauma psychotherapist for thirty-plus years. She began writing poetry in June 2020 as a path to healing when the pandemic magnified the stress experienced by trauma therapists. Her work appears or is forthcoming in various journals, most recently Snapdragon and Power of the Pause Anthology. She is a student at the Writer’s Studio.

John Dorroh: “Old Towns”

Old Towns

I want an old town like dusted biscuits
in my mother’s kitchen, forget the stretched
chrome-and-glass behemoths, all the new shapes
that young architects sketched in their heads
in their own mother’s kitchens. I want the town
to lie down on top of me and make me earn
my breath. The breakfast diner with pancakes
as large as steering wheels, link sausages, 
eggs sunny-side-up with bottomless cups
of coffee. The family-owned jewelry store 
with shimmering trinkets hung onto tiny limbs 
of fake trees, luring customers into their dens.
The hardware store with the husky mascot, standing
on the edge of a cliff, howling at a white crescent 
moon. I want the wolf in my bed. I will rest
on the sofa and give her a good night’s sleep.
I want an old town with postal workers who
know my name and wear light blue shirts
the same color as my mother’s eyes. The candy
store with homemade fudge two inches thick
and salt water taffy made at the beach down
the road. I want an old town with copper roofs
gone green and the sound of mourning doves 
cooing as the sun slides up over the ridge
of ancient oak and maple trees. I don’t want
to grow up in faux this and faux that
and have a soul buried under the concrete 
that I have to dig out, that I have to fight for
when they unpackage another Chipotle,
clearing my grandmother’s property 
for yet one more place to bury my town.

 


John Dorroh has never fallen into an active volcano or caught a hummingbird. He has, however, baked bread with Austrian monks and consumed a healthy portion of their beer. His poetry has appeared in over 125 journals. Two of them were nominated for Best of the Net. His first chapbook was published in 2022. 





John Grey: “Birthmark”

Birthmark

You say that, at your birth,
the midwife, in the midst of celebration,
spilled wine down the right side of your face.
It was a fine claret, you add.
The stain never did come out.

Another time, you tell me that,
being two-faced physically,
you’ve done your best
to make sure that your nature doesn’t follow.
You’ve always been honest with me.
Everyone else I know says the same.
Your resoluteness is working.

Meeting new people,
you don’t pretend the birthmark isn’t there.
There’s no attempt to hide it
with a string of hair.
It’s as much a part of you
as your bad jokes.
People laugh at them.
You laugh at your own uniqueness.

Your wife says that patch of purple
is what first attracted her to you.
She hasn’t seen it since.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Hollins Critic. Latest books–Covert, Memory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself–are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline, and International Poetry Review.

Daniel Webre: “Man in a Green Bubble”

Man in a Green Bubble 

_____The man near eighty resumes his stooped walk from front porch to mailbox. It is posted near a busy road cut through the concrete of strip malls. I’m in one of the cars zipping past his tiny bubble of green trees not yet pierced by the ambitions of developers.

_____I don’t see much but the flash of his life breaking up the Sonic on one side and maybe a dry cleaner on the other, his leftover world no more than an acre tucked between.

_____I tried counting the cars in his driveway—I think there were two. But that doesn’t mean anything. He could have lived alone—maybe never left—the cars mere reminders of a wife and family and motives that took him elsewhere.

_____I remember he wore heavy black-frame glasses and grim determination. Though I wondered if he’d made peace with circumstance and trained his eyes to see only what fit well within those frames.

_____All this in a passing instant. There were Walmarts and McDonalds enough, further along the road, to make me forget that man and his long walk across a bubble, had I not stopped to write them down.


Daniel Webre received an MFA in fiction from McNeese State University and a PhD in English with creative writing concentration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in PinyonCottonwoodPaterson Literary ReviewWayne Literary ReviewThe MacGuffin, and elsewhere.

Yash Seyedbagheri: “Weekend at Volodya’s”

Weekend at Volodya’s

comrade, you drag up a body
long festering among the maggots
a man who created empires
who expanded a map
and purged the soils of sedition
while giving your country’s name
a bearlike ferocity

you pull arms right and left
look, he’s waving
while you assault another wall
another cathedral
and order a dead child for breakfast
in a pesky hospital

just keep dragging that body around
look he’s waving
this is truth
and soon you will drink vodka and eat caviar
in the rubble of another house
and in a palace that once waltzed with privilege
now prop him up just a tad more


Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA fiction program. His work  has been published in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others. 

Kenneth Pobo: “Reclining Nude (Fernande)”

Reclining Nude (Fernande)

_____Gouache on paper, Picasso

The book of clouds opens
to page infinity, has no covers,
no authors.  No one can claim
ownership.  No wonder it stays
open.  Every turned page
brings rain somewhere.   I read
while reclining nude.  My chum
Fernande lies on the ground,
head on a pillow.  She too is
a cloud, good at dispersing.
I might get dressed.  It’s late.
Ground calls me.  Fernande
and I will have dinner, moon
ladles pouring steamy soup
in our bowls.


Kenneth Pobo (he/him) is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections. Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), and Lilac And Sawdust (Meadowlark Press). His work has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Asheville Literary Review, Nimrod, Washington Square Review, Mudfish, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.