We have arrived at the second issue. Poets around the country continue to believe in social justice and feeding people. They continue to trust me with their work and donate without any expectation of publication. I am humbled and awed by your generosity and open hearts.
The exquisite artwork for this issue is by Lynne Foy. My deep appreciation to Lynne for allowing me to use this image, at once haunting and hopeful. Ms. Foy is represented by Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, MA on Cape Cod. The Addison Art Gallery website says: "Lynne Foy graduated from New England School of Art and has been a magazine illustrator and graphic designer for thirty years. Her illustrations have appeared in Business First Magazine, Communication World Magazine, Computerworld Magazine, Crayola Kids Magazine, CVS Corporate Publications, Emmy Magazine, Harvard Magazine, Joslin Diabetes Center Training Materials, Massachusetts General Hospital Publications, Mature Outlook Magazine, McLean Hospital Publications, Supermarket Business Magazine, and Supermarket News. Lynne has been a fine art painter for twenty years. She works from her studios in Provincetown and Newton, MA." Ms. Foy adds: "My paintings come from a personal place of life and experience. They invite the viewer in to share their own journey of walking a similar path, being a solitary observer and experiencing both the thunder and peace of the living ocean. I feel honored to be able to create from the inside out and do what I love each day." Please visit Ms. Foy's website to view more of her work. And we would be thrilled if you found something there to purchase.
Hold on to your poetic hats! Adam Gottlieb is in the house! Adam came to fame in the 2009 movie Louder Than a Bomb. This inspiring and electrifying documentary chronicles "the stereotype-confounding stories of four teams as they prepare for and compete in the 2008 Louder Than a Bomb high school poetry competition. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the tempestuous lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa." If you have not seen this mesmerizing film, you are missing out on young people at their most creative, intelligent, and soul-filled. Adam lights up the LTAB stage and screen with his passionate words and voice. He generously lends that talent here to this cause. I am honored to publish it and am ever grateful for the opportunity to showcase heart- and soul-filled young poets and teachers. Adam will be leading workshops at the 2014 Mass Poetry Festival's Student Day of Poetry, a day-long program for high school students held on Friday, March 21, 2014 at UMass Boston. http://masspoetry.org/2013/11/01/teachers-what-the-student-day-of-poetry-offers/
Add to the choir Susan Berlin and Christine Rathbun Ernst, dynamic and passionate poets from Cape Cod. Both women are fiercely committed to social justice in all forms. Their poetry is honest and insightful and fearless. Thank you for trusting me with your work.
Linger over the poetry of Barbara Schweitzer. Barbara is the empress of the modern sonnet. Intelligent, insightful, linguistically magical.
There is something here for every hunger. Taste, savor, long for, share, celebrate the amazing voices here. Then, lend your own in the next issue. We are hungry for your own unique expression.
And celebrate with me that this issue raised $103.00!
Yours in poetry and justice,
Kim Baker, Editor
Contributors in order of appearance: Adam Gottlieb, Christine Rathbun Ernst, Susan Berlin, Barbara Schweitzer, Martha Christina, Linda Simone, Jed Myers, Amy Wright, Diane McDonough, Emma Karnes, Margo Lemieux, Pattie Flint
The Music of Anger, or This is the Year by Adam Gottlieb
after Martín Espada, and all dreamers
This is in fact the year that squatters evict landlords,
as we occupy not only wall street but all streets,
shouting in unison, singing in harmony,
sleeping in parks, standing on bridges
This is the year that art, music, and poetry are everywhere!
This is the year of reckless democracy
Tent cities erected in Bank of America lobbies
firefighters playing bagpipes among the throngs
millions of lights going out all at once
and Guerrilla Radio blasting
like Sandburg's mob waking up at last
Praise you people, praise the protesters,
bless you truth-speakers, bless all the tents,
come drummers, come crowds,
come hordes of screamers,
praise this Music of your loud anger
which is your hungry Love
This is the year that prisons are not filled with boys who sold pot,
but men who ordered bombs to be dropped
and stole the wealth of countries for Coca Cola & Walmart
and raped the earth and its waters for Exxon Mobil & BP
In fact this is the year that prisons become monasteries
and conflicts are resolved not through courts but cyphers
bringing poetic justice back
This is the that year news reports are all about hope,
with headlines like“Kindergarten Class Cleans Lake”
"Choir Cures Cat's Cancer,” and
“Beautiful Birds are Back in the Bay”
(alliteration being obligatory)
This is the year the white house is covered with graffiti,
televisions are used as box drums
and churches throw dance parties bumping Elton John & Queen
with a rainbow flag tied like a cape around the neck of Jesus on the cross
This is the year that women make more money than men,
who wear dresses, get treated to dates at the movies, and unabashedly cry
In fact this is the year genders are forgotten,
bathroom signs covered over in baby pictures
This is the year bicycles swarm the streets
with car lanes squeezed to the margins
This is the year marijuana is legal, cheap and ubiquitous,
and fast food is banned as dangerous and addictive!
This is the year a law is passed
prohibiting police officers from gathering
in groups larger than two
enforced by mobs of brown-skinned teenagers
loudly singing, dancing,
This is the year Monsanto goes bankrupt
in lawsuits lost to farmers in India
This is the year factory workers,
bus drivers, nurses, waitresses and busboys
trade jobs with politicians
This is the year teachers and artists can afford beach vacations
while CEOs have to work night jobs to pay rent
This is the year kids go to school
and teachers ask “What do you want to learn?”
and whatever they say
whether it's how to build a bike or how to make a pizza
how to play the drums or how to write a poem
Chinese, farming, or what stars are made of
the teachers have to learn it with them
Éste es el año que la educación de “English-Only” está prohibido
y el bilingüismo es un requisito de la ciudadanía
This is the year that white folks are called “illegal aliens,”
and the presidents of Mount Rushmore
miraculously morph into the faces of Crazy Horse,
Black Elk, Tecumseh, and Chief Seattle
This is the year banners are lowered,
borders delegitimized, & barbed-wire fences crumble,
This is the year that every nation’s “independence day”
the institutions of western so-called “civilization” topple
to be replaced by a new old paradigm of natural balance
give what you can & take what you need
This is the year food and water are free
and gas is too expensive for everyone
in fact, this is the year money is worthless
and land is priceless
this is the year we remember
that we cannot buy or sell the earth
because we are Her
If Occupy began
as a vision
occupying wall street,
then This is the year
If every protest begins
as a vision
& fairly treated,
then This is the year
if eyes are eyes...
so may every silent mouth,
dry as thirsty dirt,
with the music
My name is Adam Gottlieb, I'm a poet/emcee, musician, and teaching-artist from Chicago. I got into spoken word in high school through the Louder Than a Bomb teen poetry festival and was featured in the 2009 Siskel and Jacobs documentary by the same name. Since then, I have made it my mission to bring poetry into educational settings and to use spoken word as a tool for self-expression, community building, youth empowerment, and social justice. I recently graduated from Hampshire College, where I studied poetry and critical pedagogy, a revolutionary philosophy of education based on learning through dialogue. Currently, I serve as Writer-in-Residence for Teen Writers and Artists Project, as well as a teaching artist for them, Young Chicago Authors, and Youth Organizations Umbrella. You can visit my personal blog at peoplearepoets.blogspot.com. I am currently working on a musical project called "Dhamma Talks."
hinge (aussie mega-volumizing) by Christine Rathbun Ernst
I didn’t even smell it
(which is risky because when one purchases on impulse at the Stop & Shop a huge
salon-style pump bottle of fancy shampoo promising thick and shiny hair or your
money back regardless of the bargain or the 64 ounces
one had better be prepared to like the way it smells as it may take one the
better part of a year to use it all up)
but I was in a hurry
and the baby was fussing
and who the hell has time to waste sniffing shampoos
in the Stop & Shop
so now because I did not pause
to smell the shampoo
though the brand looked vaguely familiar
I will spend the better part of the forty-fourth year of my life
reliving the twenty-second
I am 44 but when I was half myself at 22 and hungry for
something I could not name
nor yet perceive at 22 already married already feeling fat and slightly desperate
I splurged at a salon and had my hair cut in
fluffy high-maintenance layers
still-at-that-time-naturally-blond high-maintenance layers that required
blow drying and curling and product
and fancy shampoo that smelled like grape soda
splurged at a salon in preparation
for my fifth fifth high school reunion
fluffy high-maintenance layers to draw the eye upward
upward away from the thirty pounds gained since graduation
since not finishing college since the idiot starter marriage
since my hair was at least
a thing I could control tame
blow-dry school make beautiful
and if not important then large and irrefutable
looking like an extra from the set of Working Girl
I and my hair mingled with the class of ‘84 five years on
sipped my rum and diet coke
wore my name tag
shouted how ARE you over the lame deejay
smiled laughed lied about being a grown-up a
wife a person who uses expensive shampoo a
person with plans and means
last fall I did not attend my twenty-fifth reunion
but last night in the shower at 44 two times that other self
washing my hair with shampoo that still smells the same I remember
the smothered hungering girl
on the brink
bewildered and unformed married chubby brave clueless
at 44 in the shower washing my hair
I see I smell the girl I was
the ninny kid who stumbled forward the decades
blundered hungry through her twenties the men the haircuts the fear
lurched starving through her thirties the diets the men the making do
hatched herself with trial and error and error and trial
became twice her age twice her life
her self squared exponential
arrived at last with an appetite
to know now
the world her oyster
not the closed impenetrable thing she clutched at 22 but
the solitary ugly glorious thing
secret and improbably delectable
she gulps at 44
the cracking open of it the trick of all time
locating the secret hinge
jamming in the blade
just so then
lift the lethal shell scrape the juice and
pearls and salt
slurp it up
smell the ocean of it
Christine Rathbun Ernst is a writer and poet who performs her work regularly on stage and at open mics on Cape Cod. She has been featured in the magazines MAMM, The Cape Cod View, and Cape Cod Magazine, and in the literary journal Ars Medica. She began writing in earnest 12 years ago as a way to deal with a cancer diagnosis and learned that sharing the story helps with a lot of other stuff, too. Two of her plays have been named Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant Finalists. She spends her summers performing as the Fat Ass Cancer Bitch at Cotuit Center for the Arts, where she also teaches writing classes and serves on the board. She and the playwright Greg Hischak co-host the popular monthly open mic, Salon of Shorts, in the the Studio at CCftA. Christine lives in Sandwich with her daughters, Marney and Julia, and her husband, the sculptor Michael Ernst.
Apples on South Road by Susan Berlin
For once, the black horse close enough
to the fieldstone wall to touch.
I leave the car in neutral, door ajar, and approach.
Standing to the side, I stroke his mane, brush back
the fly-away hair from his jack-of-diamond eyes
and, again and again, watch it fall.
The horse keeps nudging my shoulder, my arm,
as if starved, as if stroking were the last thing he wants,
so I leave to rush home – ten minutes of slow winding road –
to grab some apples. What makes me polish the skins
before peeling them, then take time to cut the pieces
smaller and smaller, careful to remove the seeds,
the starry cores, I don’t know, but when I return,
the horse has turned away, his regal head
dipping from one bucket to another on the field's fallow side.
Nothing makes him notice me. So I stand and wait
with my plastic bag as the air grows chill
and the light turns dim, slowly eating
the apples I washed and polished, cut and cored
and brought, I thought, for him.
The Upside of Numb by Susan Berlin
all six senses
of previous record: no
hunger to humble, no
of salt on the tongue,
for the hand of one
or another, all
that time --
otherwise lost --
with nothing loved
to waste it on.
Susan Berlin’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Georgetown Review, Harvard Review, Mudfish and Ploughshares, among many others. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee and twice a finalist for the National Poetry Series, most recently she won 1st Prize in the Galway Kinnell Poetry Contest. She lives in Yarmouth Port, MA.
Voids by Barbara Schweitzer
The good bleaches out of our interred bones.
It’s only bombs we build monuments to.
We parade armaments to support those
who work to fill up our cemeteries.
We don’t unearth the worms that aerate
the soil of our words. We snake them around
our tongues to guard against rash kindnesses.
You see the sliminess best through our smiles.
We say we don’t feed people to the lions
(but lions transmogrified to dollar signs).
We feel progress when we don’t remember
to remember what we do. We kill speech.
We feel starvation inside our plentitudes.
The strain of it feeds us. We are full of voids.
Sweetness by Barbara Schweitzer
Here is the sweetness of this world:
the constancy of its heart and its hands,
how it does what it says it will do year
after year, nary a murmur of complaint.
Oh it drops its leaves from the maple,
it heats up in complicity with us,
it steals bones and eyeballs to fertilize
its zealous celebration of our desire.
Life promises narrow apertures and
delivers to us, benign and neglectful
like a good mother, like a reptile, like
a maple leaf and a boulder, here, see.
Life holds no grudges, in unremitting
unattached strings, life delivers its life.
We are in it of it to it through it,
and as we come and go, the sweetness is.
Barbara Schweitzer is a RI Merit fellow for poetry. Her poetry has been published widely. Her first collection 33 1/3: Soap Opera Sonnets (Little Pear Press, 2008) was selected as a Best Books of 2008 by the Providence Journal. Her essays are featured on NPR’s RI affiliate, WRNI’s This I Believe series and are available for listening at wrni.org. Her plays have been produced in regional theaters across New England as well as in the national Boston Playwright Theatre’s BTM Play Marathon. Leavetaking was a finalist for Miami’s Short Short’s as part of the Louisville Humana festival and published in an anthology of the BTM ten-minute plays. Her murder mysteries featuring detective Cyjoe Barker have been adapted for the stage at New Bedford’s Whaling, 2nd Story Theatre, Hera Gallery, Black Box Theatre. A Cyjoe Barker flash murder mystery, published in The Cortland Review, can be read online.
Serving Privilege by Martha Christina
the early arrivals
complain as they wait
for service to begin.
They say there’s too much
or not enough: chicken,
(Perhaps they assume
because I wear this apron
I don’t speak the language
I enter the dining hall
through the service door,
and so I am privileged
to open other doors:
the walk-in refrigerator
with its palette of edibles,
boxes of bananas, jugs of juice,
shelves of bread,
and the reach-in cooler
with its cartons of cream,
blocks of butter and cheese,
heavy trays of condiments.
Under the counter
stacks of aprons, cleaned
and bleached and tied up
like gifts. I take just one,
and put it on.
Martha Christina taught for many years in the Creative Writing Program at Roger Williams University. She has twice received the fellowship in Poetry from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center.
New York 10016 by Linda Simone
On 42nd Street, one guy’s cardboard sign:
Tell me off - $2
besmirched and perched on his milk crate,
he’s suited in desperation.
It’s hot. In my head I can’t help
but approach. He’s no joke--
which reminds me of that young man,
hunched like The Thinker,
his message: Really Hungry.
For the moment, I long to feed him home-
made pasta, offer a place at Thanksgiving.
I sprint past the bathrobe-guy
who circles into a sidewalk on 6th Ave
like a dog before a hearth
needing to dis someone.
And the lady on Fifth, who
daily reads to her Shepherd,
as if reciting a Psalm. Sometimes
a man beside them, but no still waters.
as office drones like me
march to another drum beat,
never allowing slow
riff or improv.
Eighty degrees out.
Sonnet for the Portmanteau by Linda Simone
for the nameless man
At Fifth and 43rd, your dressing room:
sidewalk, a storefront window for a mirror,
a market cart your overstuffed valise.
Ralph Lauren suitsack doubles as your bed.
Each day you part and comb gray
cowlicked locks, take stock
in boxer shorts, unfold the jeans
so fashionably torn about the knees.
I pass you as I hustle to the train,
and, wordless, wonder when you’re fully dressed
if you will hold a cup to passersby
who fail to notice you attired with pride—
presentable for work, no vagrant, you--
like all the rest of us who dress for pay.
Each Weekday Outside the Liberty Café by Linda Simone
except when it rains, the lady sits
on a johnny-pump, same black coat
in every season,
wiry, brindled hair
leaning out from stone.
My coins jangle
in her bone-fingered hand.
Thank you, I say,
A landmark I choose
not to ignore,
I walk to work,
calculate how much
she could save with my 50 cents,
5 days a week, minus some vacation.
Now she regards me with recognition,
and, when changeless, I
stop into the café,
buy an eggonaroll I don't want,
double back to the hard face,
shy palm, for my
blessing, the freedom
to move on.
Linda Simone strives to uncover the extraordinary within the ordinary in her poems. Her work has been published in numerous print and online journals. Her chapbook, Cow Tippers, won the Shadow Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her chapbook/poetry sequence, Stations of the Cross, appeared in its entirety in the anthology, Alternatives to Surrender (Plain View Press) and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in New York City.
Grace Over Lunch by Jed Myers
Pitted black olives, sliced tomato,
bread of whole wheat, mozzarella
melted and brown-bubbled in oven
heat, slabs of green avocado—these
fuel for one soul’s afternoon stumble
through a maze of purpose and trouble,
thrust for a chugging tough body
against stasis and gravity,
against uselessness. Might this
meal be in trust with others
I may never see, in whatever city
or country or time, who are hungry,
who have no harvest like mine
in reach. Might this food be the fire
by which the words I write and speak
bring those wanderers to the table
to rest and dine on offerings also
of wheat, of milk, and honey, and fruit.
Though we live at impossible distances,
together on Earth, may we eat.
Jed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International Journal, Jabberwock Review, The Quotable, Atlanta Review, Barely South Review, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. He received the 2012 Mary C. Mohr Editors’ Award from SouthernIndiana Review.
Nine Billion Person Planet: A Nonfiction Sestina by Amy Wright
May 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.
released a report on future protein supplies for humans and livestock,
proposing a shift in American and European culinary culture,
as unlikely to be championed as regulations against greenhouse gases
until the scaffolding of influence collapses that shuns ingesting insects,
reducing meat consumption from developing countries adopting developed diets.
We have come to understand the American steer-a-year average diet
strains belt buckles and environmental resources across nations,
but consequences can go as unnoticed as the innumerable species of insects
that make this planet habitable—some of which could feed livestock
if cultivated, insects being a natural food source that generates lower GHG’s
than fertilizer-requiring corn and soy-based feed for hens and aquacultures.
Such habits as seem a permanent aspect of culture
change—the way current economies are shifting traditional diets
away from iron- and amino-acid-rich species that do not emit methane clouds
like vertebrates. Young people shun ancestral recipes in Asian and African nations
for fire-roasted mopani marshmallows for non-local livestock laden
fast food—associating meat with wealth and shame with insect-eaters,
finding low grade, all of the beef patties preferable to arthropod
protein. One man, a river guide alarmed by agricultural
practices that drain the Colorado before it reaches the ocean, mixed mini-livestock
flour with chocolate and introduced cricket energy bars into the American diet,
recounting how sushi, once deemed repulsive, became available nationwide,
and is now nearly as ubiquitous as cans of tuna fish, or carbon dioxide.
Post-Industrial Revolution fossil fuel-burning emissions
are integrated in our lifestyle unlike paté from the eggs of waterboatmen.
Fear may prevent millions from considering the report from the U.N.
viable, in spite of health and environmental reasons to advance cultural
reconsideration of staples that are binding an increasing number of diets
to inefficient protein converters like pig and cattle stock.
A cow needs 10 kg of corn to produce 1 kg of protein, while uncultivated livestock
like mealworms convert at a 1:1 ratio yet generate few infrared thermals.
Tenebrio molitors also contain Omega-6 fatty acids recommended for heart-healthy diets,
but the benefits are irrelevant if crouton crisp mealys daunt the insect-wary.
Can nine hundred edible species awaken an appetite for a more savory culture?
Might waxworm larvae satiate ravenous pits that can eat horses inside which fit nations?
The U.N. Report does not suggest the replacement of domestic livestock,
rather for developed cultures to sustain animals that feed them with lower GHGs,
dropping biases against an insect-drizzled diet of honey of the virgin over soft-shelled chitin.
Amy Wright is the Nonfiction Editor of Zone 3 journal and author of three poetry chapbooks with her fourth forthcoming in 2014. Her work is published in a number of journals, including Brevity, Drunken Boat, Kenyon Review Online, Jacket 2, Western Humanities Review, Quarterly West, Bellingham Review and American Letters & Commentary. She received a Peter Taylor fellowship for the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop in 2012.
When my two grandmothers fed us by Diane McDonough
Annie draped the linen over the mahogany dining table
and Grandpa claimed the only intricately carved chair with arms
while their daughters-in-law served
fine china platters of kielbasa, potato pancakes,
pirogues, cabbage and Lithuanian brown bread
then carried small crystal bowls of soft butter,
sour cream and horseradish from the kitchen pantry --
their sons listened to the baseball game
and we children were seen and not heard.
Nora rocked me in the black chair
next to the coal stove in her kitchen,
offered chipped mugs of sweet tea,
warm soda bread with raisins
and stories of County Galway in the famine
when men caught fish and seaweed
that stewed for hours over a peat fire
after Sunday Mass — after
the potatoes blackened.
Audio version: https://soundcloud.com/dmcd65/when-my-two-grandmothers-fed
Diane McDonough, a retired high school educator, has published poetry in numerous journals and has exhibited poems in ekphrastic art shows in Falmouth and Sandwich, MA, and in Wickford and Pawtucket, RI. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband.
Haplessness by Emma Karnes
Inspired by a photograph of a vulture waiting for a starving boy to die. Taken by Kevin Carter in 1993, who later committed suicide. Image won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994.
Is there anything harder to understand
than a little boy dying? He is faceless
and I am drowned in the weep & the wept,
when tomorrow’s apologies only
I’m sorry- am I allowed to say that?
Because after little boys dying,
jutted ribs and swollen stomachs and quivering lifelines
(enigmatic& boggling) turn over
this ship into rough harbors, and even before
I am drowned
in this in this
in this emptiness, the willow
knots my sorry into
some sort of some sort of
I need to say that I never saw this,
not for real, it was
through a lens,
and how was I to discern glass from
a thin layer of tears? Is it fair to
fountain into an envelope with no letter inside,
with no salvation,
only a hapless
hapless helpless man,
a camera hiding his wrinkles?
Heaven’s Offerings by Emma Karnes
I can’t yearn for your touch any
more than I can hope that heaven really does
tri-folds like angel wings hang over your
bed, and I picture them tucking
your ghost in with a rose-studded lullaby
only woven in the type of
that paper cranes can muster.
I think you made them after-school, in that
origami class where you picked up
some Japanese. Do you remember
when you proclaimed over dinner: “Utsukushī,”
a new kind of prayer I had never
thought to utter,
not between Pepsi and broiled chicken, it was
enough to make me hold my breath
until you translated: “beautiful.”
It was you and this keyboard of melodic surprises,
you and this utterance of an infinite masterpiece,
you and this beauty.
Now I watch on the backs of my closed eyelids
the blankets folding around your small body,
enveloped like this dream,
and I keep forgetting not to remember
the sort of yearning I possess for your touch;
all I can do to hope that heaven really does
exist,utsukushī in essence
and when I arrive I will find it holding my hunger outstretched
in its palm, a sliver of my sacrifice,
returned to her mother.
Emma Karnes is in love with poetry and even more in love with poetry that helps others. She lives in central New York, where the winters get very cold.
Tornado Sandwich by Margo Lemieux
About an hour ago
The sky blackened.
Mildly curious, I put aside the boring self-evaluation
my employer requires and
Google the weather map
Tornado in Springfield.
Super cell thunderstorms.
The weather map bubbles red and orange
so I turn on TV and radio. (Yes, I am a weather junkie.)
Following orders, I fill a plastic bin with bottled water,
the hand-crank phone charger that doesn’t fit my phone
cart it into the cellar.
Oh, a blanket. And listening to all at once
-TV, radio, Internet -
cook a nice rib steak sandwich on golden glazed egg bread
with fresh sliced tomatoes
pour a glass of ruby Shiraz
a feast for the eye as well
As the steak sizzles, I watch with trepidation,
the blob of red and yellow on the screen
with lightning tracker flashing
oozing across Massachusetts, coming closer and closer.
I enjoy my last meal with sweet fresh cherries for dessert.
Now I hear rumbling in the distance
approaching like a slow steamroller.
The animated weather map shows
the storm cell splitting…a cloud to the north, a cloud to the south,
and my home situated
the green space in the middle
between long yellow and red streamers of storm.
A tornado sandwich, I think, as I pour another Shiraz.
Margo Lemieux has been an artist since the first grade when she got into trouble with her teacher for “decorating” her workbook. After earning a degree in fine arts in painting from Boston University, she worked as a graphic designer, tee-shirt artist, newspaper correspondent, children’s book author and illustrator, and other interesting things. In 2013, she published two books. Believe In Water, a poetry chapbook was a finalist in Finishing Line Press’s New Women’s Voices Competition. African Animal Life: A Memoir 1931-37 by Henry Lemieux was developed from a manuscript that had been lost for nearly 70 years and is now available on Amazon. Currently, she is an associate professor of fine art at Lasell College, Newton.
Exit Strategy on a Wednesday Night by Pattie Flint
I don't have a good explanation for
why I followed a strange man out of the bar
at midnight on a Wednesday,
But I did and it was good.
It was good because he wrote me a poem
on the back of a
used napkin about how you should
always eat an orange before you drink
so you can taste
between what is real and what is pretend.
He had a birthmark, too, a weird one it took me forever to notice
running through the left half of his
that shocked it bright white and made him
look skeptical of everything.
In a small way it was really, really romantic.
So we ran all night and kissed four blocks from his hotel
and it was warm and pink and predictable,
like playing Sunday morning records
six years later and remembering
all the words,
and then because I'm addicted to cliches I left him
under a streetlight glowing like a hatch lamp;
where all the night bugs buzzed and flailed
against the hard glass with little bops and pings
just like the two of us; slamming little exoskeletons
against a flame that loves to burn us alive;
two strangers without an exit strategy.
Audio version: https://soundcloud.com/pattie-flint/exit-strategy-on-a-wednesday
My Mother buys me Peanut Butter to show me Love by Pattie Flint
My mother was in the Comfort Army-
her battle was against fearful men. They
opened her legs like oyster shells to
look for pearls they could never hope to
find there; to dip in the salty brine of my
mother’s aspirations, leaking down
her chin. She sends me sensible shoes
and peanut butter on my birthday so
I can remember that these things are
not always bought with money; although
some men are generous, maybe like
my dad. She tells me that he was the
nicest one, even though she still drank
dong quai after he left so that his child,
her daughter, would never be anything
more than a dream. So I would never learn
how to stare through eyelashes like picket
fences until the shuddering nights when it’s
best to not look, or how to hide bruises
with sliced potatoes. She sold all her dreams
for the key to the bed of a man who was
guilty enough to marry her; so I bought them
back with my diplomas and jelly sandwiches
and the way I whisper in her ear, “Mother,
you birthed pride and I rose up out of terror
with a neck as straight as matriarchs,
your pain was the foundation upon which
I will lift you up; on a dais will I comfort
you with every drop of my love. Come
home, dear soldier, you don’t have to fight
Audio version: https://soundcloud.com/pattie-flint/my-mother-buys-me-peanut
Pattie Flint is an uprooted Seattle native toughing it out in New England and spends her days as an editor at Medusa's Laugh Press specializing in hand-bound books. She has been published in InkSpeak, HESA Inprint, Hippocampus and TAB,amongst others. She is currently working on her MFA at Cedar Crest College.