Friday, February 16, 2018

Poems I Admire #48

Cells Divide and Are Forever Separate 
Tamara Madison

Just when we finally draw near
it is there between us like a membrane,
a silk screen, a heavy drape.

Sometimes I think I can really see you
but then the gauze covers your gaze
and you’ve slipped away.

Sometimes it seems I can really touch you,
but our separateness enfolds us
like a swallowing fog.

I settle for those times when we can just
hold each other, your warm being next to mine
and I honor an illusion of oneness

as we stand together in the kitchen,
arms around each other, holding close
with May outside, the night air gravid

with jasmine and only the thinnest gauze
of cloud to separate us from the moon
swelling golden above the pines.

First appeared in Chiron Review

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook "The Belly Remembers" as well as two full-length volumes of poetry, "Wild Domestic" and "Moraine" (in which this poem appears), all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in the U.S. and abroad, including Pearl, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Linnets Wings, The Writer's Almanac and others. She is thrilled to have recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Our Hero

Cooped up like a river frozen closed and inhaling frigid pins of salt,
our hero takes root on W. 11th before starting his breakout path

of slowly turning up the catalytic heat that burns a miracle: ginning
sympathy from the soft alchemy of insufficient hopes and understanding

that it all adds up somehow. He was never really a mixed up thing
needing rearranging like a flock of geese pretending to know the way

across his thin skin stained against reason. Around his neck a bow tie
droops and intertwines with the yellow hair of a summer so soft

he can barely remember how it growled from way down deep.
All that remains of what came before is the leaping, the single bounds,

the speeding locomotives he imagines whizzing by on his way to school
for not anyone’s very last time, not really.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Galleywinter #2 - Penelope Scambly Schott

How beautiful were my feet with shoes…

When I used to run, my shoes
believed they were part of my feet– 

they crouched and waited 
like a golden retriever staring at me,

trying so hard to be patient– 
look how good – as I pulled on socks.

I shut the door, and bird song
descended the cool trunks of trees.

When I sped up, clouds
rushed faster over my thin shadow

until it vanished. I ran on
into the sunlight, my arms like shafts

pistoning forward, turning 
train wheels, but my smooth track

was just the dirt mule path 
beside the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

There were no more barges to tow
and the mules had been dead for years,

but I was young then, and my hips
swung loosely as if from golden ropes.

Penelope Scambly Schott’s two new books are Bailing the River, a collection about what can and can’t be done, and Serpent Love: A Mother-Daughter Epic, poems about a difficult period in her relationship with her adult daughter and the daughter’s essay in response. Penelope lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon where she teaches an annual poetry workshop.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Lesser Imagination

He imagines a lesser imagination,
finding peace in sitting still, closing
his eyes, seeing sunshine inside blue

as white glides over a little green waft
sailing slowly out of imagination’s view.
He imagines a lesser imagination no longer

dreading all-day dreams, the way she curves
around his mind, the way they love
until nothing remains between them

but the naked reality of knowing that a lesser
imagination could never imagine away memory
and how memory always imagines more.

First appeared in IthacaLit

Friday, January 19, 2018

Poems I Admire #47

The Meatball
Richard L. Gegick

Where do butchers go to dance?
A popsicle stick punchline.

If I love my father, and I think I do,
it’s because he is a butcher,
knows what a butcher does.

They get loaded on Budweiser,
play air guitar to the Allman Brothers,
curse at local news stories, their wives,
their children,

always have a quick hundred stashed
for when those children, now adults,
are hurting for cash,
and they give it with creviced hands,
silently cry because they wish it was more,
wish it always had been.

Every month of the year is January
in a windowless meat locker.
They wear wool sweaters through heat waves,
shit blood for days before seeing a doctor,
cure the morning shakes with beer
stashed under their car seats.

One thing they do not do
is fucking dance. 

First appeared in Chiron Review

Friday, January 12, 2018

On Fishing All Alone

Ready to cast into the flat glass, he sees his face blur
with the wind, spindly as frozen drops dangling
from branches whose pointed tips hide the bruises.

Shreds of frigid thought, horizons of fits and starts, legends
grown tall as giants sleep within the winter-white quiet.
The sun is ailing and darkness looms a waltz

as stony as a chiseled jaw. Tiny beads of wave rock
the shore, red-cheeked and blind to this cover of cold
and wet and soak. His footprints lead him back through

too much green beneath damp to the dancing warmth
of flame and sound and lying sprawled along his couch
where he can see the face that saves him.

A different day now. A different man. Casting shadows
over his being all alone and unaware of it. Everything
is a blur to him. Everything is a mirror he cannot hold.

There is cold and damp and an old way of remembering
how he used to search for something to lust over, to need
more than these foggy breaths prolonging his knowing

only from there to here but never from here to there.
He spends all his imagination on gravestones, gray ones,
flat in the soggy yellow sedge of neglect upon loss.

There is a glass to his gaze that no one sees and a waltz
that looms inside the way he crawls slowly into the long
ball of cobweb begging for his presence in the corner.

Included in my chapbook "The Allness of Everything" (Maverick Duck Press)
(To learn more about "The Allness of Everything," click here.)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Galleywinter #1 - Penelope Scambly Schott

His Boots

Everett’s hard-used work boots
still stand side by side
tucked behind his TV tray
next to his big leather chair.

The boots face into the room
where Betty sits on the couch,
dinner plate on her TV tray.
She isn’t eating.

She slides the tines of her fork
under the pork and beans,
then lays the fork handle
over the rim of her plate.

My daughter took his socks
and put them in the wash.
Frayed tips of the laces
drape onto the rug.

Don’t you see him? asks Betty.
I can see him
standing there in his boots.
Dirt on his boots like the grave.

Penelope Scambly Schott’s two new books are Bailing the River, a collection about what can and can’t be done, and Serpent Love: A Mother-Daughter Epic, poems about a difficult period in her relationship with her adult daughter and the daughter’s essay in response. Penelope lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon where she teaches an annual poetry workshop.

Friday, December 29, 2017

On Spooning

we lie together back to front
               (yours to mine)

your head rests on my right arm
               outstretched as an innuendo

my left arm curls around you
               and the hand of it enjoys the softness
                              of your breasts/the firming of their nipples
                                        to the graze of my wedding ring

you sneak cold toes between my calves
               where I warm them for you

my lips tuck tightly
               within the warmth of your neck

something happens inside my chest
               a sweet seep
                              clear as honey tea/light as light

pure as the way you turn
               kiss me/feel me feel
                              the graze of your ring

First appeared in Cultural Weekly

Friday, December 22, 2017

Poems I Admire #46

Something Salvaged

for Kirstin

The pale underbelly
of marriage, think
trout, all those tiny, disco ball
scales although we flip the fish,
handle it as something
to gut, the knife’s capable
edge and the initial thread
of blood like a zippered seam.

Inside, the accordioned entrails
I scoop up. I can barely look
at you as I handle them. Shame
intricately knotted as any fly hook.
You have long, tapered fingers.
Exact, curious; you look without
flinching, and wrap all those innards
neatly in newspaper. There’s more

there, hidden deep, when I unwrap
the newsprint days later – a moon
colored marble, a large red rubber
band, and deep inside, just like
that story, as hazy and undefined
as the childhood it was told in,
a ring, a wedding band. The story

hinged on that golden ring, but I can’t
for the life of me remember how.
Surely it was enchanting, far reaching
in the way that love was conjured
or saved or explained, imaginatively enough
to leave a thumb print on my child’s mind
but I know, now, in my gut, love is a dirty
business, often something salvaged

and this makes it no less exquisite.
How to explain love when I am often
so unworthy of it? A choice and not
a choice. The white belly, yes, yes,
but those scales, so minute and soft
that the fish feels covered in flesh, human
and not, so I turn it, this way and that,
the light quivering like water, prismed
on the wall and calling up the before – 
the fish whole and swimming.

First appeared in Emerge Literary Journal

Barbara Lawhorn is an Assistant Professor at Western Illinois University. She's into literacy activism, walking Banjo (the best dog in the history of the universe), running, baking and eating bread, and finding the wild places, within and outside. Her most recent work can be found at The Longleaf Pine, BLYNKT, Nebo: A Literary Magazine, and Naugatuck River Review. Her favorite creative endeavors are her kids, Annaleigh and Jack.

Friday, December 15, 2017

I should have brought a bottle

of something Canadian and amber
for you to sip neatly as my hands
spent time getting to know you better.

I should have soothed fragrant oil
from the tropics deeply into your skin
and then lingered upon your softest center,

let my tongue taste your anticipation,
listened for the panting of your lust
and whispered for you to ask me please.

But we were both so ready.

First appeared in Cultural Weekly