Issue 126 — Adam Kluger, Joseph Buehler, K. J. Hannah Greenberg, Ed Meek, A. Schwartz, Emily Strauss
In this issue, work by
Lady at the Mansion
Copyright © 2019 by Adam Kluger.
About the Artist
Adam Kluger is an artist/writer who lives and works in New York City.
Stuff in a Drawer
For instance, stuff tucked away in a drawer? Yes. Uncle Harry’s mandolin?
No. Uncle Harry doesn’t have a mandolin. There is no Uncle Harry. Corner
watching? Maybe. No profit in it. Writing poems? No profit in them. Giving
up stocks, futures, margins? Yes. (It takes a steady hand to sail the ship.) Buster
Keaton? Yes. Shipboard bingo? No. (Steady as she goes.) Alpine adventures?
What price glory?
For instance, waving good-bye to family? Tough. Tears? Yes. Mayo on a hot
dog? Yes. Relish? Yes. Onions? No. Unless you want to sleep alone. Moon
poems? No. Been done endlessly. Still. . . Fl. driving in a blinding rain storm?
Yes. Trish did it. I was the passenger. Dangerous? Yes. Had to keep her eyes
on the vehicle ahead. When it stopped, she stopped. Came out of it o.k.? Yes,
For instance, not buying the Edward Hopper book for a discounted ten dollars?
Yes; didn’t. Mistake? Yes. Regret? Yes, of course. Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy,
Hugo? Genius. Twain, Hemingway, Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Steinbeck?
American genius. Frost? Genius-Mathematician. Sandburg? Dated, but still
great. (I read the last volume of his life of Lincoln: like a pleasurable novel.)
Moby D.? Couldn’t get through it. Proust? Forced myself through one volume,
“The Captive.” Brilliant twaddle, but couldn’t identify. Kafka? Always scary.
Dickens? Are you kidding? Genius again. Ditto Hardy. In Dickens, heroines
usually paragons of virtue. Not necessarily in Hardy. Dickens always believed
in happy endings, no matter how dark the actual books were. Hardy let the chips
fall where they might. Dickens, I think I read, wrote himself to death. Didn’t
take care of his health. Wrote two or three novels at the same time to keep up
with the serials in the newspapers. Who does that? No one else I know of. End-
ing a sentence with a proposition? Yes. Guilty? Yes. Caught me.
Copyright © 2019 by Joseph Buehler.
About the Author
Joseph Buehler is a two-time finalist for the Adelaide Voices Literary Award (NYC) in poetry in February and October 2018. He has published poetry in Otoliths (Australia), H.C.E. Review (Dublin), Sentinel Literary Quarterly (London), Common Ground Review, The Opiate, The Tower Journal and elsewhere in the USA. Visit: firstname.lastname@example.org
K. J. Hannah Greenberg
Desert Dreams 2
Copyright © 2019 by K. J. Hannah Greenberg.
About the Artist
K.J. Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).
Enacted in 1935
He never signed up
for Social Security, my grandfather,
a mechanic who ran a one-man garage
behind the high school.
The locals were loyal. They paid
in cash. It was hard to find
a good mechanic and he knew cars
inside and out—could name
what was wrong with his ear,
and he seldom overcharged.
He never drank until he got home
where he took his Seagrams neat.
A sentimental drunk, he liked to sing
Irish songs. My father learned
not to drink from him
and from my uncle Bobby
who loved whiskey and the horses.
He had a system, he claimed
after a good day at the track,
but that was just before
his third and final heart attack.
Ten years after my grandfather
retired at 65 and died a month later
of heart failure. He didn’t need
Social Security, though my grandmother
Copyright © 2019 by Ed Meek.
I’m thinking of a kiss
from years ago—
probably better remembered
I don’t know
but I swear
a sort of
in the heart
of the brain—
a sort of reverse
of the skin
the unspoken dialogue
mouth to mouth
Our bodies wired—
alive with current:
we were plugged in—
to an unnamed tune
carried on waves
until we couldn’t
Copyright © 2019 by Ed Meek.
About the Author
Ed Meek’s most recent book is Spy Pond. He has had poems recently in The Sun, Constellations, Aurorean, and The Kerf.
Green Old Man
“Sir,” he said. He reached down and brushed his shoulder. The old man jumped a little and pointed his face up at the boy. “Sir, I brought you some food, are you hungry?” Kyle asked him as he sat cross-legged on the floor. He was about eighty. He was demented. And he was blind. And Kyle thought he could use someone to talk to.
He was friendly. He smiled and said, “Thank you, son.”
Kyle sat down next to him for several minutes while he ate. He had nowhere else to go. “I’m still here, sir. I just thought I’d tell you.”
“Okay, thank you, son.”
A few more silent minutes went by. Kyle grew sick of silence. “Sir . . . if you don’t mind me asking . . . how long have you been blind?”
The old man smiled and gave no indication of discomfort. “About 50 years ago. It was my thirtieth birthday. How old are you?”
“Oh. Well, I was much older than you,” he laughed. “Yes, I lost my vision. But I get along just fine.” He smiled and patted Kyle’s leg which was cross-legged next to his.
Kyle looked out at all the men and women going about their business at the airport and glared at them. He said, “So, you don’t know . . . about the green and orange, do you?”
“I’m sorry, what do you mean?”
“You really don’t know, do you?” The old man looked puzzled. “Sir, a few years back there was a gas leak and well, I don’t know, I guess it affected the pigmentation in the skin. You see, after the gas leak, all the good people, their faces turned green. All the bad people’s faces, they turned orange.”
Kyle paused and anxiously awaited the old man’s reaction. He sat in disbelief for several moments. Kyle grabbed his shoulder and chuckled, “Don’t worry, sir, your face is green as peas. So is mine.” He turned back to face the sheep going back and forth and shook his head, “It’s these guys that are orange.”
The old man said nothing for a while. Kyle shrugged. Then the old man spoke in a quiet, almost fearful voice, “Their faces really changed, huh?”
Kyle smiled. “Yeah. So did ours. But we’re green. In a sea of orange.”
“Is that so? Well, I guess I feel special.”
“Yeah, you know somethin’, Mr. . . . ?”
“Mister Reynolds, Doug Reynolds” Mister Reynolds said, sticking out his hand for the boy to shake. Kyle shook it and said, “I’m Kyle.”
“You know something, Mister Reynolds?”
“We’re green and we’re very few and . . . we gotta stick together.”
Kyle continued visiting his new friend, at least once a week. Kyle was not close to many people, but he admired Mr. Reynolds. He considered Mr. Reynolds a truly green individual.
Sometimes, their conversations did not even relate to the color of skin. It interested the blind Reynolds in the beginning, but it was a mere part of the visual world. There was a lot more to see. Kyle described everything to Mr. Reynolds. He became the old man’s eyes.
He spoke of the world, the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, clear lakes and salty seas. He spoke of pyramids in Egypt, statues in Rome and Greece, skyscrapers in New York, and the monuments of DC.
“Oh, I know the monuments, Kyle. I’ve seen those.”
“Yes, I spent many years there in my apartment. Has anything changed there? Since I was young? Has anything changed color?”
Kyle laughed. “Well, they’ve added some new buildings I guess; a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That was a green man. But, it’s only the people that changed color. I swear, that hellhole is crawling with orange politicians and orange businessmen and orange whores. I’ve been many times, Mr. Reynolds. And I can’t say I like it.”
Mr. Reynolds nodded calmly. “Well, I liked it. But then, that was back in the day. Perhaps things have changed. Or perhaps they were always orange.”
Kyle continued his visits for years. Mr. Reynolds seemed almost indifferent, but Kyle did not notice. He did not see Kyle grow up of course, but he heard his voice change, he heard his speech grow in vocabulary, he heard his experiences accumulate in the tone of his voice.
Kyle was sixteen when he fell in love. She was from California. He saw her on the street with her friends and thought she looked beautiful. He followed her for miles until they got to the beach. He walked up to her and nervously asked her on a date. She and her friends laughed at him. It was then that Kyle realized that all of them were orange. I guess he just didn’t notice it before. The sunlight glinting off their smooth skin; it must have blinded him.
The next week, he told his story to Mr. Reynolds. “Almost all girls are orange. It’s just who they are. They’re real sexy but they’re all fuckin’ orange.”
Mr. Reynolds smiled and gripped the boy’s shoulder. “Oh, Kyle, that’s not true. My wife, god rest her soul, would have been green, I know it.”
Kyle smiled. “Really, sir? I didn’t know you were married. Tell me about her.”
“Oh she was beautiful, Kyle, you should have seen her. If I could see her again, oh, I would be so happy. She was so kind and caring. Her voice was lovely. I . . . I know it’s no use trying to convey it, I’m no poet. But believe me, she was beautiful.”
The old man continued, “What’s funny is she was married when we first met. She used to sneak out at night and we would meet on this one street corner by a phone booth. And she would visit me and she would smile and we would run upstairs and make love on the roof.”
Kyle frowned. “You mean . . . she was cheating on her husband?”
Mister Reynolds sighed. “Yes, I know.”
Kyle’s voice grew louder. “Because that sounds to me like an orange . . . ”
“I know, I know, Kyle. But believe me, she was sweet.”
“I mean, that sounds like an orange bitch! To me! I mean . . . ”
Mister Reynolds lost his smile. “Now Kyle, you didn’t know her. You didn’t know how warm and compassionate she could be. Even her husband forgave her after a while . . . ”
“No! No, I can’t believe this! No, she’s an orange bitch! To be honest, Mr. Reynolds, I thought . . . I thought better of you.” Kyle stood up and stormed off. Mister Reynolds heard his feet stomp and refrained from saying anything more.
The next week, Kyle came back, making his presence known by putting his hand on the old man’s shoulder. Mister Reynolds smiled. So did Kyle. They sat silently for a while. Then, the old man began to speak.
“Kyle, I was wondering . . . ”
“You told me that my wife was orange. But, you say I’m green. Still, I think back. I was in Korea as a soldier. I killed so many people. You didn’t know it. But I killed many people. There were children, Kyle, children that died in the crossfire. And . . . I was partially responsible for that. The simple fact that I killed . . . I just . . . I worry sometimes that my face is orange and you just wanted to spare my feelings.”
“Oh, nonsense, Mister Reynolds!“ Kyle wrapped his arm around the old man’s shoulder and squeezed. “You fought for your country. There is nothing more honorable. You, sir, are a green man.”
Kyle continued his visits. He only seemed to get more angry at the orange people. Sometimes, he would sit next to the old man, and without giving any sort of welcome or warning of his presence, he’d say something like, “Oh, I wish I could just gather up all those orange bastards and shoot ’em all.”
Reynolds would turn toward Kyle’s voice as he’d say something like, “Because you know, Reynolds, they outnumber us a million to one, I’m telling you.”
“A million to one?”
“That’s right. Maybe more. They’re all over the place. They all got evil in their hearts and orange on their faces. I can’t fucking take it anymore. I just want there to be more people like us, Reynolds.”
“Well, go out in the world and make it happen, son. Make it your personal mission to bring up our numbers, Kyle. We green people, we’ll be the majority once you go out in the world and make your presence known.”
Kyle would mumble, “Thanks, Mr. Reynolds. Thanks, I just might do that.”
Still, Kyle would have bad days. Mr. Reynolds was the only one that could calm him down. But how Kyle hated those orange people. They sickened him.
One day, Kyle visited the airport, more cheery than usual. Mr. Reynolds was happy to hear such a tone. Kyle was excited, but Mr. Reynolds could sense he had some important news to share.
“Mr. Reynolds, I’ve loved spending these past few years with you. I owe so much to you. You’ve been my only green friend in a sea of orange. But I’m going to find some green people. I’ve joined the Peace Corps, Mr. Reynolds! I’m going out to make my presence known in the world. So, I’m going to be gone. For a long time . . . and I just wanted to say . . . goodbye.”
The boy hugged the old man. The old man smiled, “Goodbye, son.” He grabbed the back of the boy’s head, massaging it gently but gripping onto it well. He reached for his old army knife in his pocket, switched it so the blade was out and stabbed the boy in where he could feel his eye sockets were.
Kyle fell, screaming as several orange people gasped and rushed to help him, having watched the gruesome scene. As his eyes bled out, Mr. Reynolds leaned to the boy’s ear, “Listen, boy! No one like you . . . with such hatred . . . with such intolerance in your heart . . . no one like you deserves to know who is green and who is orange!”
Copyright © 2019 by Aaron Schwartz.
About the Author
Aaron Schwartz is making his writing debut with this being his first publication ever. He lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
At the Beginning, on the Edge
On the first day at the edge
of winter’s town, snow still piled
along the tracks in March
across sage fields—
the street ends here
the bleak desert starts.
I sit in my unheated house
on a ten-dollar camp chair,
stare out bare windows
with bare floors, white walls
empty shelves, echoes.
I possess one spoon
a pad and blanket
towel and toothbrush
bar of soap, no salt
still peeling labels
off my new refrigerator
still no porch light, no
shower curtain, nothing
to eat but instant oatmeal,
banana, packaged muffin
from the motel at the edge
of town where winter clings
to the snowy hills, frozen
mud covers the garbage
and debris littering
the fields— winter will end
I can see the desert from
my window before darkness
falls at 5:30. I sit at the edge
of night, wrapped in my blanket
waiting for my furniture, spring,
or the sagebrush to bloom.
Copyright © 2019 by Emily Strauss.
Watch a small lost child
anchored on gray boulders
fixed to the land, visible far off
on a ridge, up a canyon.
Watch the child’s tears, fearing
the next step, frozen on the ledge
unable to move forward
the path too precipitous
a drop of a thousand feet
and her feet will not move,
a leap too dangerous.
She could remain motionless
on the mountain forever,
a body slow-buried
in the glacier, the child
abandoned to air and wind
the lost child never retrieved,
a suite of bones later washed
down the canyon by melting snow.
Of course the foot will move
off the edge of the rock face,
the child will arrive shaken
but intact, energy rising through
the pelvis, the gut, the throat.
It is then the child sees a woman
reflected in the still river
and knows— this I am, here,
now I am— saved, sound
sufficient, her inner child fears
dissipating, energy strengthened
by the river’s flow, through the dawn
of a woman’s conception.
Copyright © 2019 by Emily Strauss.
About the Author
Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college Over 450 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher and lives in Oregon.