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Issue 180

Updated: Nov 26, 2023


This issue features



Volgariver


Summer Landscape


Copyright © by Volgariver.


Melissa Andrés


Beyond Our Hill


My mother and I walk pass the cows,

the goats and the horses on our way to the creek.


Foliage overhangs along our winding course.

Small rocks line the bottom. Large rocks create a bridge.


We hop from one gray rock to another

across the clear water careful not to slip.


We bend forward when our hill begins to slope

and strive for a good foothold as we begin our ascent.


Clay churns into the earth beneath our bare feet.

Heat from the midday sun penetrates our skin.


My mother and I glance at the valleys

beyond our valley when we reach the top


and at the hills beyond our hill. Rows

of fences and shrubbery enclose


each pasture below us in the distance.

We find fallen palm tree fronds


and crawl into them like cradles

sliding and smiling down our hill


until a jumble of rocks plunges

us to the precipice of sorrow


and there we wait

for joy’s return.


Copyright © 2023 by Melissa Andrés.



Before our Separation


We haven’t left each other yet

or lived apart for years.

Our home is still our home,

the same one we were born in.


We eat yellow rice

with red pepper flowers

on top while we listen

to the last Tocororo sing.


Our dogs sit at our feet

waiting for scraps

while the trumpets

play their final notes.


The villagers haven’t gathered.

They haven’t hugged or cried.

Their shoulders haven’t sagged

nor their spines begin to bend.


They haven’t yet dispersed

or heard me scream.

They haven’t walked back to their homes

or start to cook my favorite rice again.


My grandmother hasn’t dropped the roll

of wool she used to make my dress

nor have I watched the yards of gold

trail behind her in a blaze.


Copyright © 2023 by Melissa Andrés.


About the Author

Melissa Andrés, originally from Holguin, Cuba, arrived in the United States on the Freedom Flights with her family. She grew up in Florida (Miami and Sarasota) but has lived in Texas, New York, and Europe. She has worked as an elementary school teacher and taught English as a second language. She holds a BA in International Studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Rattle Magazine, The San Antonio Review, Ligeia Magazine, Inkwell Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, West Trade Review, and elsewhere. Her poem “The Poisoned Horse” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.




Julia Nunnally Duncan


Shack at the Top of the Street


I was happy to see people move into

the shack at the top of the street,

a house usually vacant,

its doors unlocked,

that we neighborhood kids explored,

perusing dingy rooms

and treading on creaky floorboards,

hoping to find mementos left behind—

a Mason jar with marbles or an old photo.

And now a family gave the home life again,

a young couple and two kids—

a sister and brother,

who were potential friends.

The children were hungry

by the way they lit into the package

of raw Valleydale hot dogs

that I'd found in our refrigerator

and brought to them.

I ate one, too,

sharing their meal

and sealing the deal of our friendship.

Their mama with her dark ponytail

and daddy with blond Brylcreem-slick hair

were friendly

and invited me to accompany the family

for a movie at our local drive-in.

Back then,

my parents and I didn't think twice

about my getting into a car with these folks—

strangers though they were—

for they were neighbors now.

Their time on our street was short,

and after they moved,

the shack stood empty again

till it was torn down

and a new rental house built in its place.

I don’t remember their names,

but I haven’t forgotten the family

that briefly joined our neighborhood

in the 1960s—

friends never to be seen again.


Copyright © 2023 by Julia Nunnally Duncan.



Andre


Andre was a real chum,

up for any adventure

that might come our way.

One summer day we set out

to find an old farmstead,

over a sloping pasture

and through dense woods—

a long trek for kids our age—

I barely in school

and he soon to start.

But we trudged through blackberry vines

and high grass

till we found our way there.

We explored for a while,

and on the hike back,

we became lost,

but he followed me,

and we found our way home.

In time his family left our street,

and my friendship with Andre

was gone.

But like so many people

from those long-ago 1960s,

Andre has passed from this world,

but not from my mind.


Copyright © 2023 by Julia Nunnally Duncan.



Edna


Edna was a gentle girl

with fair skin and blonde hair

worn in a braid.

She lived down the street,

and I rode my horse Thunder there

and tied his reins to the backyard clothesline

while I went inside her house to play.

We sat in her small bedroom

and listened to records,

not saying much,

but enjoying each other's company.

She invited me to stay for supper one day,

which I was happy to do,

being hungry and smelling the savory food

cooking in the kitchen.

But before suppertime,

her mother told me to go on home,

hurting my feelings,

though in reality the family probably

didn't have food to spare,

there already being six people to feed.

I didn't go back,

but Edna and I were still friends,

and she would come to see me

till her family moved away.

I was eleven then,

but to this day, I think of Edna

and wonder whatever happened to her.


Copyright © 2023 by Julia Nunnally Duncan.



About the Author

Julia Nunnally Duncan is author of ten books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Her latest poetry book is A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press). Her works have appeared recently in Smoky Mountain Living, WNC Magazine, World War One Illustrated. and History Magazine. A new essay collection All We Have Loved is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2023. Her poems and essays often explore her upbringing in a Western NC textile mill town. She lives in Marion, NC, with her husband Steve, a mountain woodcarver. They enjoy the outdoors and spending time with their daughter Annie.




Alamgir Hashmi

Rain Comes Down on All Heads

Rain comes down on all heads

equally. But a few

have umbrellas too.

Except vehicles left in water

and these milk cans,

there is nothing

about the bus stop

at night.

The clouds are mounting again.

One more

water kicking comes

and looks

wet mouse at me.

Perhaps asking

if I am already waiting.

Then, we turn our backs.

I have walked

the day in noisy fall. Now my

silence be mine.

His loincloth showing is

his.

As such, to God

ravenously watching the

water dance, no cat-calls mean

much.


Copyright © 2022 by Alamgir Hashmi. Reprinted by permission of the author from Voices Now: World Poetry Today (Tristoop Books, 2022).



On This Sidewalk


On this sidewalk

a few words

in chalk

say what it means

to be poor.


Who can stop

the tripping feet,

a sparse look

through inadvertence,

or a rainwash?


Perhaps this

stinkcologned old man

secreting gentle

speech

knows the art.


Though picturesque

and lying in the dee,

whose solace

(you think)

is he?


As he rises,

his knees would weakly knock

for help;

only a stick would

hold his hand.



Copyright © 2022 by Alamgir Hashmi.Reprinted by permission of the author from Voices Now: World Poetry Today (Tristoop Books, 2022).


About the Author

Alamgir Hashmi is the author of numerous books of poetry and literary criticism. His poetry and prose have also appeared widely in journals and anthologies such as Wild Gods (New Rivers Press, 2021), Footprints (Broken Sleep Books, 2022), Voices Now: World Poetry Today (Tristoop Books, 2022), and Madness: An Anthology of World Poetry (RedPanda Books, 2023). He has taught as a university professor and is Founding President of The Literature Podium: An Independent Society for Literature and the Arts.



Marilyn Barbone


Full Moon Beauty


Copyright © by Marilyn Barbone.



Jon Petruschke


Haiku poems

spring equinox

all of her gets

equal attention



Copyright © 2023 by Jon Petruschke.



summertime love

he’s only ever seen her

in freckles


Copyright © 2020. Previously published at Crosshatch Publishing,



tropical sun

through cracks in the door, your shirt’s

missing button


Copyright © 2023 by Jon Petruschke.



About the Author

Jon Petruschke (he/him) is a psychotherapist and published author of short fiction and poetry. He grew up in the Philadelphia area, but currently resides in Portland, Maine where he has led a writing group for the past 20 years. His work has appeared in Modern Haiku, Presence, Tsuri-Dōrō, Akitsu Quarterly, Philly Fiction, Crosshatch Publishing, Under the Basho, Variant Literature, and Paper Wasp, among others. He has a book of poetry – Dream Haiku: Poems from Nights and Naps.



Colin Young


Haines Falls


Copyright © by Colin Young.



Gary Shulman


Here’s to the Children Who Don’t Quite Fit


Here’s to the children who don’t quite fit

Who run around aimlessly when all the others sit

Who look at the world through eyes unique

And into their souls you’d love to peek

To see just what magic makes them tick

When they look at a tree and call it a stick

Here’s to the teens who will not abide

By life’s set rules that they push aside

As they rock back and forth in their own special world

While grown-ups grow frustrated with lips tightly curled

Then bursts of brilliance they reveal as they race

While tears of love roll down a parent’s face

Expectations often missed but still they yearn

Wondering today what skills they will learn

We hope for the ones who don’t quite fit the mold

That the world will be kind as they grow old

We know that the bullies will play their cruel game

Reality is, cruelty sometimes brings shame

But optimism lives in each heart and mind

Of parents and professionals who continue to be kind

With a network of supporters shining bright as the sun

The ones who don’t quite fit have already won

Nobody knows the future

So why pretend?

Let’s celebrate their victories!

May they never end!!!

Copyright 2021 by Gary Shulman.


Legacy



So let’s just suppose today was the day

You looked in the mirror and to yourself you did say

Looks like the journey has wound down to an end

My social card now devoid of extravaganzas to attend


The termination date on this relic

Has way since expired

This old wizened soul

Has grown oh so very tired


What legacies of life did you truly embrace

That you could leave behind for the human race?

What gifts did you bequeath to this fragile tenuous world?

What treasures did you leave still yet to be unfurled?


Profundity alas is not a jewel I would leave

To those left on earth for my soul yet to grieve

Trinkets of gold, silver, diamonds and such

Legacies of wealth….not really worth very much


So let’s get to the crux, let’s get to the heart

Of legacies pure and pristine

So where shall I start?


How handsome he was!

What an artist was she!

Did you see how they bowled?

Such a lawyer was he!


Legacies all……..or perhaps legacies none

Even for those who had one helluva run!

Not to belabor the point nor pretend to be a sage

Just a simple thought to place on this page


The choices in life you have made will be

Your lasting, resplendent legacy

So choose to be kind in all that you do

No greater legacy could be left by you


Copyright 2021 by Gary Shulman.



Ode to a Vintage Soul


As his journey approaches 90 years

Of life on earth, it’s time,

To reflect on such a glorious life,

A life like vintage wine,

It has not always been easy

As the seasons came and went,

But one thing for sure

We can celebrate,

Is a life that was very well spent,

Spent loving a Catskills home so sweet

Replete with hummingbirds and bears,

Replete with loving friends and family

Who visited throughout the years,

This folk on the hill

This one of a kind

Would stand out in a crowd,

Yes sometimes not always appropriate

And maybe a bit too loud,

But lord knows always engaging

On topics of days gone by,

Like Hollywood celebrities

Or wars that made him cry,

His wife of more than 60 years

Always there like his Rock of Gibraltar,

Ready to catch him when he needs support

Making sure he doesn’t falter,

His children, his joy, his progeny

His greatest gift to this earth,

Adore his quirks, his good, his bad,

His passion and his mirth,

And mirth he has in buckets full

As laughter flows like rain,

His view of life unique, divine

And sometimes a bit insane,

And now each day for this glorious man

Comes with just a tad more pain,

Those eyes may need a bit more time

To communicate with his brain,

But rest assured well loved is he

And loved he’ll always be,

For 90 years well spent and shared

Is quite a legacy


Copyright 2021 by Gary Shulman.


About the Author

Gary Shulman’s poems have been published throughout the world. His second book of poetry is forthcoming. He is a lifelong advocate for families of children with disabilities as well and still supports vulnerable families while sharing his poetry as well.



Daniela Simona Temneanu


Paris Night Lights

Copyright © by Daniela Simona Temneanu.



Stuart Stromin The plan of Paris

for Katie There is no guidebook that can show you Paris so burn your list of tourist sites to check or you will miss it all. Paris will reveal what you need to see. The sudden rain forces you into a café. Mechanical problems jam the elevators on the Eiffel tower. The taxis are on strike. Someone recommends a cup of molten chocolate in the Luxembourg gardens. You get lost down the wrong street in the gray filigrees of drizzle and shelter in the church at Saint-Sulpice, where there is an oil painting of Jacob crossing paths with an angel. You need to go underground and through the tunnels of the dead, resist the temptation to steal a bone from the empire of skulls, and hear the screech and whoosh of trains that float on rubber tires along the tracks of the Metro. You need to fly in the high swings of a muddy funfair that you wander into pitched on the Rivoli side along the palace gardens of the Tuileries. Close buildings blur, but it is clear across the river as you whirl around and around, dangling in a damp metal seat. You need to find the same restaurant with the crabs and cockles, the pastry with apricot sprinkles, the crypts beneath the green leaves and the music-box of the wind, the drunken stumble home under an umbrella. Across the courtyard was where Picasso had his studio, and before that, Balzac lived here, marked by gold letters on a stone plaque. There is a code to open the heavy doors. The floral wallpaper camouflages the hidden closets, and the deco taps are shaped like mermaids. You fall into a conversation on the terrace with strangers who speak no language, and exchange numbers. You end up at the Dali museum on the poster instead, to discover swans inverted as elephants, melting timepieces and bronze eggs. Even the girl with the half-shaved head and bandaged wrist stares at the canvas like it was a mirror. I blindfold your eyes with my palms and walk you onto an island in squeaky traffic so that something inspired by Napoleon will be a surprise. Previously published in Sheila-Na-Gig, Winter 2017. Copyright © 2023 by Stuart Stromin.


Seascape The old boards creak on the pier. Barnacles hug each dark, wooden support. The bar-tops are stained with mustard and beer. Burnt-out seadogs on the railings watch the children cavort. You hang around until there is no enemy, and the salty wind blows off the endless sea. He walks the beach in the wrong shoes. He tries to count the gulls, but they refuse. And the full waves billow and fall. And the full waves billow and fall. Previously published in River River, Fall 2017. Copyright © 2023 by Stuart Stromin.


David by Moonlight The dry air murmurs with a distant malice, Light slides across flat rooftops like a sword. The king – awake – is pacing on the palace, Dreaming a hundred psalms to praise the Lord. Through all the metal stars on midnight duty, There is no way to see less than the light, The king is dazzled by your ruthless beauty, So silver-wet and naked in the night. I watch the wind – from my post on the tower – Rise like the moon across the groves and hills. Your curtains part, I see into your shower. One vision of your body, and it kills. David died for your love upon his broken throne. The strongest of us all falls like a stone.



Previously published in The Literary Hatchet, Winter 2021. Copyright © 2023 by Stuart Stromin.


About the Author

Stuart Stromin, an award-winning South African-American writer and filmmaker, lives in Los Angeles. He was educated at Rhodes University, South Africa on a creative writing scholarship, the Alliance Francaise de Paris, and UCLA. His poetry has been published in a number of journals and e-zines, including Sheila-Na-Gig online, River River, Plainsongs, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Literary Hatchet, The Raven, 500 miles, Rigorous, Blood Puddles, Dissident Voice, etc. He most recently received First Honorable Mention (4th place) in the Traditional Sonnet category of the 2021 Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest.




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