Issue 78 — Jevin Lee Albuquerque, Jason Bertucci, Paulus Kapteyn, Brandon T. Madden, Marie Pavlicek-
Jevin Lee Albuquerque
shopping for a cart
street soldier, former
said red tides
flown in jungles
blown, into stars
orbiting, out of mind
stars in hand, mouth
red tide consumes
toucans, wild boar
bare the truth
I wasn’t there
here, street soldiers
carts in hand
Copyright © 2015 by Jevin Lee Albuquerque.
Jevin Lee Albuquerque recently completed his third full-length novel, Hawgfish. A semi-finalist in the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom competition and recent Pushcart Prize nominee, his prose and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals. Two of his most current works, a poem and short story, were translated by Bernard Turle and can be found in the French collectif, Poussières Du Monde (Éditions François Bourin, 2014).
Stay under the radar
don’t get too fat too soon—don’t read a book too late
pay your bills on time
Stay under the radar
don’t wake up too soon—don’t teach your child too late
go to the dentist
Stay under the radar
don’t make friends too soon—don’t say goodbye too late
be kind to the mailman
Stay under the radar
don’t interrupt a conversation too soon—don’t learn to love too late
give money to the poor
Stay under the radar
don’t fake a smile too soon—don’t visit another country too late
register to vote
Stay under the radar
don’t drive a car too soon—don’t play an instrument too late
see a baseball game
Stay under the radar
don’t lie to a woman too soon—don’t swim in the ocean too late
buy food from a farmer
Stay under the radar
don’t forget dead friends too soon—don’t think out loud too late
keep out of jail
Stay under the radar
don’t master any games too soon—don’t break a bone too late
paint your masterpiece
Stay under the radar
don’t embrace the rules too soon—don’t stare at the moon too late
be your own doctor
Stay under the radar
don’t talk to millionaires too soon—don’t rescue an animal too late
avoid purchasing electronics
Stay under the radar
Copyright © 2015 by Jason Bertucci. First appeared in Peaches Lit Mag in May 2015.
Jason Bertucci is a freelance writer currently residing in Kansas. His works have appeared in Litterae Magazine, Peaches Lit Mag, and also in Akashic Book’s Thursdaze series. He is an iconoclast and finds inspiration from the Beat writers and quirky musicians. He’s a multi-instrumentalist and loves experimenting with effects and new sounds. He collects vintage typewriters, loves the island life, and aspires to be a retired beach bum and live out his days in the Caribbean.
I Had No Idea Valery Had Written A Novel
I had the novel Valéry had written in my hand. I had taken it from a desk that had other books on it. I had no idea Valery had written a novel. The jacket was pretty. It had a handsome drawing of Valéry on it. I asked the man, who usually sat at the desk and stamped the inside jacket of the book I purchased with an emblem of the book store, how much it was and he said that it wasn't for sale because he was reading it, but that he would sell it for 8 dollars when he was done with it by Saturday. I looked away from him to meet a swarthy man's gaze who I believed was the owner of the bookstore. I felt sad and disavowed. I said I would come back for the novel Saturday. When I exited the book store a tall slim young man in his twenties looked to get inside.
Copyright © 2015 by Paulus Kapteyn.
Paulus Kapteyn resides in Pacific Northwest.
Brandon T. Madden
I did not expect to see my husband’s car when I pulled into the garage, and I especially did not expect to see an assortment of camping gear spread across the floor. It was two in the afternoon on a Wednesday, after all—and the middle of November. I picked up the groceries from the passenger seat and exited the car. I cautiously tiptoed around the scattered camping chairs, propane tanks, and tarps, each of which had a thin layer of dust, almost like a pseudo carbon dating method. The last time I can remember our family camping was when Jimmy was still in grade school. (He was excited because his Boy Scout knowledge was fresh in his mind.) A strange feeling—something like nostalgia, something like déjà vu—swept over me for a moment as I opened up the back door to the laundry room. I expected to hear our old dachshund Schroder bark with Jimmy yelling out, Hey mom, what’s for dinner? I’m starving. But that was not possible, because Schroder had been put to sleep in Jimmy’s last year of high school. And that was a year ago. Besides, the grocery bag slung over my arm was too light to feed three of us.
I walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge before unloading the contents: a half-gallon of milk, coffee creamer, a couple yogurts, and a dozen eggs. (If I didn’t feel like fifty-five beforehand, I sure did now). The groceries looked out of place in the double door fridge we bought nearly a decade ago. Before, each item would be pressed to find a place; now they each had their own shelf, standing as if they were their own last Mohican staring into a bare wilderness. I closed the doors and turned to look out the windows into the backyard. The trees had lost all their leaves, and the sky had begun to adopt its hazy wintery gray. I liked our property especially during the summer. We were fortunate enough to have a natural barrier between us and our backyard neighbors, and during the summer when the trees were fully leafed it almost gave the appearance of a private forest lost in the middle of suburbia. But winter shattered that illusion, tearing holes into the cloak so we could stare straight into the neighbor’s windows. (They are a young couple that recently moved in, and they—being young and in-love—tend to forget the concept of blinds and decency.)
But something new blocked the view. In the middle of the bare trees stood our gray tent. I wouldn’t have recognized it, nestled and camouflaged, had it not been for my husband lumbering about in his bright orange jacket, hammering away at the poles. I picked up a shawl hanging off one of the cushions on the couch in the living room and wrapped it around my shoulders as I opened the sliding door.
Fred, I said. What are you doing?
He didn’t hear me and probably didn’t even know I had returned home. I walked across the backyard, which was coated by a thin layer of dead leaves, causing each step to be met with a crunch. As I approached, I could hear Fred partly humming, partly singing a song.
Fred, I repeated. What are you doing?
Oh, Gloria, he said as he picked up another pole from the ground and began feeding it through the corner of the tent. I didn’t know you were back. Did you get all your errands done?
Yes, I replied as he crouched down, securing the pole into the ground with a hammer. Now why are you setting up our camping tent in the backyard?
Oh, this, he said. Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.
And I feel like I just am not on the right path. It’s like one day I woke up and realized that my body was already involuntarily going through the motions of what I would have to do, before I actually thought about what I was going to do. You know what I mean? It already knew to brush my teeth, shower, then shave, make coffee and go to work without any instruction from me. It gave me a feeling of helplessness, like—what if I wanted to make coffee first?
I remained silent, not quite sure what to say, partly because I didn’t fully understand where he was going with this, partly because I didn’t want to say something that might insult him or encourage him further.
I’m almost sixty-two and I’ve been doing the same thing for over thirty years. It’s like Fred has been asleep and dormant for half of his life while his body has guided him through the same mindless tasks day after day. So that’s why I decided that I needed a change. I decided it was time to quit work and pursue what I wanted to do. I’m going to start writing and publishing poetry.
You quit your job? I said, the words coming out strange and foreign.
Yes. Left today.
You told your boss that, I repeated, as if trying to coax my brain into confirmation.
No, I just left and have no intention of returning, he said. Left all my stuff there. I don’t need any of it.
You can’t just quit your job, I said. We still have college to pay for and all the renovations on the house to do.
Don’t worry, he said. We have enough emergency savings to get us by for a couple of months, and if need be we can dip into our retirement. Plus, I already have a new plan for what I can do as part-time work.
And that being? I said, trying to hold back something like anger, something like fear.
Well, one of the guys from work teaches a couple classes at the community college downtown. He says that the pay is pretty good. If I publish enough poems and get a solid collection together as a portfolio, I’m sure they will pick me up as an English professor. You don’t even need a teaching certificate, just a Masters or the ability to do what you claim to do.
I wanted to say that he had neither, but I felt all twisted inside. I felt hurt. Why hadn’t he talked to me about this major decision?
So I’m taking the next week or two to hone my poetry skills here, he said, pointing to the tent.
I had almost forgotten about the tent as he turned and finished the final touches of securing it upright.
Fred, you can’t live outside in a tent, I said. It’s the middle of November.
It’ll be fine, he said. I used to do this a lot in college with my buddies. We’d camp outside all the time. Once our tent rested on a mound of snow. I’ve told you the story before, right?
What will the neighbors say? They’ll think I kicked you out or that you’ve gone crazy.
Jen and Brad next door think that it’s a cool idea, he said, unzipping the entrance as he piled in blankets and sleeping bags. They actually were tempted to set up camp too, saying that it was like going up north with only having to take a couple steps.
But why do you have to sleep outside? I said. You’re going to get sick. Just come inside and let’s talk about it.
There’s no need to talk about it, he protested. I’ve never felt so alive like this before. I’m going towards the path I should have been on. I’ve had all these poetry ideas for so long, but I’ve never jotted them down or took the time to really make something out of them. It’s because I’ve been distracted with life and having to follow all its minute requirements. I have to be in nature to be away from all of it in order to make it work.
Although we were feet apart, I felt as if the boundary between our backyard and Fred’s woods was endless. It was the first time in our marriage that I thought of the word separate.
The house was quiet for the rest of the day and into the evening. I kept my mind distracted with dusting and vacuuming. I tried to chalk it up to something like a mid-life crisis, something like a need to have a vacation. Fred had been working harder than usual, it was true, since Jimmy left. I thought it was because of an unusual influx of work, but as I dusted the pictures of the three of us on the mantle, the thought occurred to me that maybe this was his way of dealing with the change. I looked out the window and, like a dimming lantern in the night, I saw the silhouetted outline of Fred hunched over.
That night I left the window open in the master bedroom, hoping to hear Fred’s footsteps crunch across the yard and the sound of the sliding room door opening. I fell asleep hoping to feel the warmth of his body next to me, but instead woke in the middle of the night with the urge to wrap myself in the blankets, trying to maintain what little warmth there was.
The next morning I awoke not to the sound of the coffee machine or the shower, but to the telephone ringing on Fred’s nightstand. I stretched my arm over towards it with my body following across the cold and untouched side of the bed.
Hello? I said.
Hey, Gloria. It’s Tim, said the voice. Is Fred coming in to work today?
Uh, no. No, Tim, he actually came down with a bad bug yesterday, I said.
I thought he didn’t look good yesterday, he replied. What does he have?
A really high fever and a chest cold, I lied, getting up from the bed and peering towards the trees in the backyard.
Yeah, I heard something like that is going around, he replied. Alright, well, can you call me tomorrow to let me know if he’ll be in?
Sure, I said as a wintry breeze rolled through, causing goose bumps to crawl my arms. I’ll let you know.
Fred was sitting outside huddled around the tiny camper grill as he gnawed on beef jerky. On top of the grill were a cracked egg and a slice of bacon.
Aren’t you freezing out here? I asked as I tucked my arms tightly around my body.
No, not at all. It’s invigorating, he said.
Did you sleep well?
Not too bad. A little stiff, but that’s all right, my body will adjust.
You should come inside, I said. I can make you a pot of coffee or something.
I can’t. I have to live off the land, he replied. It’s like in Walden. Thoreau had to leave society completely.
I wanted to point out that he was eating jerky and bacon and eggs and that, anyway, Thoreau actually did go into town to buy things like food. Instead I said, So how are you going to live off of our land? Not a lot of resources.
I’m glad you asked that, he said with a smile as he fished out a small spiral bound book and propped it open.
I found this wilderness survival book from the book store a couple of weeks ago. It’s filled with great details and helped me prepare for the harsh winter. For instance, did you know you can survive off of eating cattails? They are a good source of starch.
I pictured Fred running around the neighborhood, terrorizing cats as he chased after their tails, and had it not been for the situation at hand I would have laughed out loud. He surely couldn’t have meant the plant—for those were only found hundreds of miles north of our suburban life.
One thing I did notice that made me smile, however, was that in the corner of the tent I saw his old guitar propped open, with a few stray pages of sheet music scattered about.
Are you sure I can’t fix you up anything? I asked.
No, I’ll be fine, he replied. I can’t lose any more time on my writing.
Fred didn’t move much from outside the boundaries of the woods. Most of the time he spent inside his tent, where I assumed he read and wrote. Occasionally he would crawl out to stretch his legs and wander amongst the trees. It was strange how he moved about, as if he was exploring an untouched, vast forest, when in reality there could have been no more than thirty trees creating the illusion of depth. By noon I had run out of things to do, and, not wanting to leave Fred alone for fear that he might collapse and we’d soon be rushing towards the hospital, I made a pot of tea, wrapped myself in a blanket, and watched him from the sofa until he eventually crawled back into the tent. I held the cup close to my face, letting the steam trail across my cheeks and nose, feeling the tingling sensation of my pores opening up. I tried to remember if my father had ever pulled something like this, and if he had, what my mother must have said, if she said anything at all. The thought crossed my mind that she might have been secretly thrilled at the idea to have him out of the house. Given that their marriage eventually ended in divorce, she probably would have seen it as an opportunity to reclaim her domain and shape it to her own liking.
I got up from the sofa, placed my cup on the table, and looked over at the fireplace. A copper statue of a bear stood like a centerpiece on the tan tile. Fred had bought it years ago up north on one of his camping trips with Jimmy. He said it had personality, but I thought it looked foreign in the living room, like some dangerous wild animal that was pretending to be harmless and domesticated. I walked over and ran my fingers against the grooves of the bear, running them down its face and pointy teeth, which had a grayish grime over them. I tapped the stomach of the bear and listened to the hollowed out growl as the sound reverberated throughout the copper body. But in reality, it was harmless: a tough façade to hide an empty body. I reached down and picked the statue up by the head with ease and carried it to the garage, hiding it in the darkest corner I could find. A smile came across my face as I imagined it becoming just another dust-covered fixture that would soon be forgotten.
That night I went out and brought back a chicken pot pie, a dish Fred had always hated and I hadn’t tasted in who knows how long, and put on my Barbra Streisand album, which Fred had banned years ago. As I enjoyed both, I looked around the living room and mentally sketched out the changes I would make if I had the time. Instead of Fred’s hunting trophies and assorted books on the shelves, I could move my classic novel collection from upstairs while placing my favorite framed pictures throughout. Instead of the old, worn-out landscape picture hanging on the wall, I could get something bright and abstract, or perhaps something artsy and modern. (I could even have someone come out and paint the walls, changing them from an off-gray white to something with color and warmth.)
My mind wandered upstairs, where I thought of painting the master bedroom a shade of dark purple while also getting matching sheets, maybe with an accent of blue or flower patterned. And as I prepared myself for bed, I smiled at all the projects that awaited me.
The next day followed a similar yet not quite identical course. I called Tim, claiming that Fred was still sick, and put on a pot of tea while I watched Fred methodically walk around the woods, as if tacking some new ideas. As I watched him, I browsed through local home furnishing and décor websites, and after I allotted the appropriate amount of time to make sure that he wasn’t going to have to be rushed to the hospital, I went to work reorganizing the furniture and fixtures in the living room. Removing the painting, re-orienting the furniture, and replacing the shelving took less time than I thought. I moved to the front room where another outdated landscape rested along with a love seat that was clearly outdated. The wooden furniture was dry and scratched from abuse from Jimmy and Schroder. Feeling empowered by the cresting wave of modernization, I grabbed my coat and wallet from the living room, went into the garage, and started my car. As the garage door scrolled open and I slowly reversed out onto the driveway, the light of the headlights caught a quick glimmer of the copper bear. I clicked a button overhead to swallow it back up in the mouth of the closing garage door.
That night, I put on a different Barbara Streisand album and sang to myself as I hung the new paintings I had bought—two colorful abstract pieces—and placed a new vase next to the fireplace. The girl from the décor store had recommended placing silk lavender lilacs inside them to give the room a nice calming feeling which would help balance out the new energy from the art pieces, and as I sat down on the sofa I couldn’t help but agree with her. On the table rested one of my Jane Austen novels, and as Babs finished her last song, I opened the book and began reading. Occasionally, I would glance up and out the window to see Fred’s tent, dimly lit with his silhouette seemingly frozen in the same hunched over position. I wondered if he had written anything yet, or if he had played much on his guitar. I stood up from the couch, walked over towards the window and opened it, wondering if I would hear the songs he used to play. When midnight came and went, and still no sound came, I marked my stopping point in the novel, closed the window, and went up to bed.
That weekend I continued my various home projects. The front room now had two new sofa tables along with a wicker chair and floor lamp to give a more diffuse light to the room. The bathrooms all had new towels and soap dishes. The master bedroom had two new nightstands and lights, and the bed had new cream-colored sheets with accents of purple flowers. All the walls in the house were adorned by stripes of potential new paint colors, as I deliberated with myself which combination would look best. I became a regular face to the workers at the home goods store and had already earned the nickname of Martha Stewart as they assisted me with finding the best pieces to update each room. I stopped checking up on Fred, assuming that if there was a problem he would knock on the door or enter through the garage. Instead, I delved into my world filled with the voices of Streisand and Jane in my ears and my new vivacious colors on my eyes.
But Fred did eventually come to the door with two sharp knocks. It was in the middle of a lazy Sunday of reading.
I need your help, he said as a bluster of cold air blew through the open door, extinguishing the new spearmint stress relief candles I had lit on the counter. I tugged my cardigan closer around my body as I stood up from the couch and placed my novel down.
What’s wrong? I asked.
He stood in the doorway, as if immobilized by the barrier between the rustic and the domestic.
The wind knocked over my tent, and it’s trying to scatter all my stuff, he said. Can you help me prop it back up?
I nodded and followed him out to the backyard. Most of the leaves had been blown away, and those that still lingered huddled together, clinging tightly to the wooden walls of the house. (Perhaps they were trying to convince the old wood to embrace them again, like it had done long ago.) I looked ahead and saw the tent now wrapped around one of the tree trunks, its contents thrown carelessly in various directions. Fred picked up the guitar. Its neck had been broken in half, most likely from being smashed against one of the trees. Fred and I disentangled the tent, which was tightly wrapped around the trunk, and began attempting to set it up. The wind would occasionally swoop down and try to drag it away again, like an inside out umbrella. Fred began hammering away quickly at the stakes, while I tried to keep the poles aligned. The poles had made tiny ripped holes on top of the tent’s covering, but as far as I could tell nothing structurally was broken.
As if mocking our struggle, the wind died down to a calm breeze as Fred secured the last corner. He got up and shook his head.
The damn wind chewed up this tent, he said. I remember the guy who sold me this said it was the sturdiest and strongest material. It could withstand a tornado, he said. What a waste.
It’s not that bad, I said reassuringly. A few holes, that’s all. Nothing serious.
He shrugged his shoulders and sighed. An uncomfortable silence fell over us as I examined his face. His eyes were glassy and bloodshot, while the dark ovals beneath seemed to accentuate his tired look. A thick—but still somehow splotchy—gray beard covered his face, as if attempting to conceal his facial expression and stifle his words. His hair was slicked back and greasy, looking thinner than usual. (But on the positive side, he looked more slender than he did before. He’d lost a pound or two, I was pretty sure.) Only a deep chest cough broke our silence, and he covered his mouth.
How has the cattail searching gone? I said, trying to inject some lightheartedness to the moment.
He gave off something like a gruff laugh. Brad and Jen have been nice enough to give me some of their leftovers.
The way he said it—or maybe the way I heard it’struck something off balance inside of me for an instant. But, no different from a fallen leaf or the tent, this scrap of unease was merely picked up in the wind and carried off. I reached down and picked up one of his notebooks. Its cover had been torn off, exposing its contents. There were only a few lines scratched in blue pen. A phrase here, a word there, and arrows slithering through connecting them together, but not one line of an actual poem, let alone a full one in and of itself. I brought it close to my chest in something like a warm embrace as another zephyr of wind nibbled at us. I watched the tent flap back and forth as the wind made its way through its newly formed holes, jostling the tent from the inside out. It shuddered like an infected animal that had been rendered unhinged by a disease. But Fred stood by unmoved, watching this creature in silence, and I handed him the notebook and muttered something about good luck.
I awoke Monday morning to silence. As I stretched out of bed, I looked over at the clock. Quarter to nine. Tim would surely be calling soon, but I was determined to reach him before then. I needed to tell him the truth: that Fred had no intention of returning to his job, that he’d in fact had every intention to quit last Wednesday, and that he is now—yes, really—living out in the wilderness pursuing his dream of being a poet. I walked downstairs and into the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker. As it brewed a pot, I glanced outside. Everything was painted an off-colored gray: sky, trees, even the ground. I squinted to see if I could make out the tent, but it must have reached the state of being perfectly camouflaged and was now invisible. It was as if it had completely come out of mind, and with this observation, a feeling of weightlessness enveloped my body.
I picked up the phone and dialed Tim’s number.
As it rang, a rummaging sound came from the garage, as if something was trying to break out of a garbage can. The noise startled me, but I brushed it off, focusing on the tasks at hand: deciding what to say to Tim and finally picking a color for the living room.
Finally, the phone clicked over.
Hello, Tim speaking.
The backdoor swung open, and with it, something like a rock plunged deep into my stomach as the full-bodied figure of Fred strode into the kitchen. The bronze bear was clutched in his hands, staring at me without a hint of dust. Its—or maybe his—presence paralyzed the words in my throat.
Hi Tim, I finally stammered. Uh, I was calling about Fred.
Fred walked up to me silently, tucking the bear underneath his arm, and outstretched his free hand.
Here he is now.
I handed Fred the phone. His hairy hands were cold, and his untrimmed nails scratched across my palm. He began chatting with Tim, stating that he just got over his illnesses and that he would be in the office today, effortlessly adopting the script that I had previously set for him. As he laughed with Tim, I watched him move to the living room, his eyes inspecting my vase. Moving it aside, he placed the copper bear back in its place and then walked upstairs, probably to get ready for work and resume his responsibilities. As Fred’s voice faded away, I looked back at the fireplace. The bear stared back at me, its teeth bared.
Copyright © 2015 by Brandon T. Madden.
Brandon T. Madden has recently been published in various undergraduate, graduate, and professional journals including The Red Cedar Review, S/tick, the River and South Review, Flyover Country Review, Sediments Literary Arts Journal, Gravel Literary Journal, Empty Sinks Publishing, and Write Time and Write Place. In 2011, he published his first novel, V.S.A. In addition to fiction writing, he has also published academic and political theory papers in journals including The Transnational. To view his works please connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/brandon-t-madden/6b/489/595
Journey with Catullus—November, 2000
Traveling the distance between here
And the bench by the water bearing your name
You cannot hear me
And I still cannot speak.
An old man with your eyes pokes two fingers into your ribs.
A woman with my face
Watches the pressed white shirt give
Under that weight.
What to pass on to one whose body in time
Is erased? A lake’s green face.
The stink of it.
A white host dissolves on the tongue.
Between us an altar and a highway.
If I could pour out this chalice of tears
Know that I would, dear brother.
Know that I would.
Copyright © 2015 by Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli.
There’s praise enough to fill a basin
Counting over and over
while I run the bath
I’m thinking about certain sounds
Walla Walla Bogotá Sandusky
where once beside a tidal pool
I went on washing my hands
until what praise I held
showering into the sea.
I’m thinking about certain words—
brushing my teeth in another town
Tump or Thalo—or, O God—
calling up hello 911, just checking in
to be sure
all the doors are shut, locked
and the stove turned off
Today, no tears of praise.
No Helio lamp.
No pond of lotuses or one room shop in far-off Karachi,
where day after day two men pulled taffy.
My sweets, my brother—
they said to each other.
Only sacks of sugar.
Only dust and ashes.
Over and over.
Copyright © 2015 by Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli.
Marie Pavlicek-Wehrli is a graduate of Seton Hill University (B.A., Studio Art) and Warren Wilson College (MFA, Poetry). She has been a fellow at both the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Ragdale Foundation. Her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Raleigh Review, Watershed Review, Border Crossing, About Place, Ekphrasis, Poet Lore, Beloit Poetry Journal, and others. She is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist's Grant in Poetry and leads poetry workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD.
Visit this author's homepage at http://www.mariepavlicek.com/
D. S. West
Forgetting He Has Gills
An eighty-one story atomic man quashes coastal cities
to escape the himself and the city,
head hanging, chin to irradiated molten chest his
long walk to the water to finally, fully submerge himself.
So as not to slander him, the trampler of thousands
doesn’t mean to trample millions, cowering inside
buildings, by the thousands. What are buildings anyway
to his subatomic headline top story, eighty stories away?
Not that this sullen, hot-glowing colossus has no idea
what buildings are; the beast reads, has traveled Europe.
Mutant man’s no idiot, just his head’s too high, cutting clouds...
What are stories to this hideous, tentacled, doe-eye monster?
Not what buildings are to us, little people, so the tallest man
will have to atone, like we do, if this story turns out
the Pacific isn’t nearly deep enough.
Copyright © 2015 by D. S. West.
D.S. West is a writer, artist, and hopelessly lost pedestrian last seen in Boulder, CO. His poetry has appeared in Lunar Poetry and Crab Fat Magazine. A list of his published work is available at https://icexv.wordpress.com/
from the hands of old men
who insist god is here,
right here in this place
as easter ribbons flutter
from the beams,
through stained glass.
i dip my fingertips
in holy water,
toddler balanced on one hip,
lower my head,
mark the sign on my face and his.
he flinches, then he whips around,
points to the altar
Mommy! Somebody get that man down!
Copyright © 2015 by Gina Williams.
I went to the museum lecture
to learn something new. The photographer
spoke of his travels to Turkey
with stacks of pinhole cameras
to help the children of Syrian refugees
make something beautiful.
You should too, he said.
Those who say can’t mean won—t, he said.
The whole world is on fire, he said.
I left, a human shell. Around the corner
a man on the sidewalk convulsed in his
sleeping bag. A puckered old woman
in polka dot pants
unlocked her suitcase from the bike rack
in front of the city library. A blond-haired
man with a begging sign played
his cello so fiercely, the strings curled
and snapped in the wind like the fibers of a collapsing
The heater was left on
and I sweltered in the night,
tossing in a sticky web of midnight
daydreams, took a pill,
dreamed at last of killer waves and angry relatives.
Now the morning news tells me a bomb went off
at a bus stop someplace to in the far east.
Another plane plunged into the sea.
Those children in Syria are dying from the cold
before the bullets can kill them.
The bus was late. I forgot my lunch
on the counter at home. The coffee pot
at the office sparked and began smoking.
I cut my finger on the staple remover. My
spine bends a little further to the left each day.
I am unprepared for fire or weather.
I bought a sandwich,
carried it around, left it on a bench,
flames licking at my boots
as I walked away.
Copyright © 2015 by Gina Williams
Gina Williams lives and creates in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Okey-PankyCarve, Carve, The Sun, Fugue, Whidbey Art Gallery & Whidbey Life Magazine, Palooka, Great Weather for Media, Black Box Gallery, and tNY Press, among others. Learn more about her and her work at GinaMarieWilliams.com.