Woodland Pond

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


Through the stray ebb of night,
swirls of black water form her

in a meager grove
of orange-leafed trees.

She studies the bracken and reeds,
looks past the embankment

to figures standing in the distance;
the man in the straw hat

leaning on a grey fence
talking to his daughter.

In a few desperate sentences
he speaks of things to deny or embrace

the endless sky
the empty earth

ghosts of the north country
conspiring with fire.

The girl listens momentarily,
begins to drift away

floating through leaves
and tresses of moss

alighting on a small shoreline—
folding in, turning back.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

Advertisements

An Astounding Perimeter

A poem by Richard King Perkins II


It’s not a dream
but a slightly bygone world
covered in frozen mist.

Sparrows alight on the small shoreline
of an astounding perimeter—
a sanctum whispering in white.

I study the icebound bracken and reeds,
gazing past the embankment
to this vacancy of snow where your car once slept.

In the old meeting place, I still look for you—
where our conversations spilled upon gentle light;
simple confessions of twigs and soul.

But we’re left with only a few desperate sentences;
having spoken of things to deny or embrace,
the evergreen ghosts of our endless north country.

Now you’re stranded on a bridge in St. Louis
with no money and no credit cards
and your passenger side window broken out.

I’m in the bristling pines laced ivory
where someone once wrote a song about you;
how your eyes extinguished sensibility,
how your eyes painted light into every corner of darkness.

Can you recall how desperately we believed
that the return of robins and sharp shadows
could change everything;
that crocuses would ignite life in themselves?


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

Nurserymen and Psychedelia

A poem by Jake Sheff


Encyclopedic hands reach
to reassess squat and woody
cycads. Branchless plants

embrace fingers in recesses
questing for meaning and
other pests. Struck by ugly

pleasure’s naked structure,
collectors pay high prices
for loves like leaves sprouting

from no trees. (Cycads generate
heat for male cones to repel
insects toward a more temperate,

fervent sex. Harvest trickles
relative to nature’s truckloads
of relaxed approaches.) New

York City nurses doctors
stalking neurotoxic and self-
similar geometries at home;

garment-shredding spikes are
brushed like hair, loosening
deep time’s translucent hour.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force. He is married and has a daughter and three pets. His current home is the Mojave Desert. Jake’s poems have been published in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. He has published a chapbook: Looting Versailles, available from Alabaster Leaves Publishing. He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.

Time Is a Long Island

A poem by Jake Sheff


The Author’s Arrangement: Adrienne and Corri are friends at a wine tasting with live music. The speaker of the poem is Corri’s husband, changing their daughter Maddie’s diaper in the restroom of the winery. The speaker’s brother is Nathan, on his way to visit aboard the ferry from Connecticut. It’s Adrienne’s last day visiting, and the wine tasting is just before her flight home.


For A.N.


As Adrienne and Corri tasted wine
I changed a diaper to the tunes of
Hurricane Irene and Buddy Holly.

As Nathan rode the ferry to Orient
Point, a period with two points rode
Like wild fire on the Hampton Jitney

Past Walt Whitman’s wrong perfection
Near Ronkonkoma. Soft indifference
Shook the day, cracking Washington’s

Monument to – no offense! – a broken
Bagpipe. Wild fire crackled to the quiet
Thud of death as Montauk lit the sea

With magpie intelligence. As Nathan’s
Ferry hit the sea, like adages, to bits
And pieces, new advantages were

Speeding down the LIE, past Nassau
County’s Art Museum, Tiffany lamps
And shortages of pricelessness. Pure

As rope, the wine was more celestial
Than cellists as Adrienne’s plane
Landed in Islip. Jetsetters removed

Their carry-ons from overhead bins
Like jesters overselling peacetime
Exercises in the rain. Sag Harbor was

The province of trapdoors around
The time I finished wiping Maddie’s
Fanny*. A calzone was beside a cannoli

And itself in Patchogue’s Zagat Rated
Dumpster. Fatigue was dressed up
In fatigues by artists down the LIE

From honesty and letters to editors.
And Nathan’s ferry honed its boldness
Down to honey in the homestretch,

But with no agenda in the company
Of gods, it was dogged by goodness
Like a leafy tree. Abbreviated, one-

Sided theories brewed like wild fire
In the South Fork as Adrienne’s
Flight was getting used to acronyms

And practice de-icing. Highfalutin
Housekeeping – always the hallmark
Of chastity – festooned the ferry

Like all Poughkeepsie or the Flatiron
Building was on board, but Nathan
Humbly puffed on thoughts of wild

Nights on Fire Island, dazed on chains
Of possibilities like days. The LIE
Poured traffic into Riverhead like casks

Of enthusiasm or wine downhill, done
Gone swirled and sniffed. Wild
Strawberries at Strawberry Fest saw

Wild fire with jet-black forgiveness,
As the Target I browse at for Target
Brand baby powder and wipes went up

Like eyebrows of swallowtail butterflies.
Dogwoods on Stony Brook’s campus –
Being of sound minds and street legal

Religions – loaned their agenda to
The ferry and Nathan’s career, both
Above the rules and flounders that vary

Very much each season. Butterfish
And porgy knew more than we
Claimed to as Adrienne’s taxi

Commenced the saddest story,
Sad because I told it wrong and ate
Its crab cakes, crumbly as calendars.

Mail-order emollients were shipped
From Amagansett to Shelter Island
With toxic affability to prove to wild

Fire only people do important things,
Unlike the Polish Town cemetery,
Ocelot or human occiput without a gut

To tug its soul from aphorists and
Aphrodisiacs; right illnesses and,
And crazy sanity abound on islands

Where the minds and selves of men
Are all like drowning lakes. Planets
Fidgeted on their paths like oaths

As Adrienne stepped into her cab for
MacArthur airport. Iced tea disparaged
Asparagus and lobster bisque behind

The bar on Nathan’s ferry; Polish
Town’s cemetery said, “Put nothing
Off,” and Maddie’s diaper said,

“You’re putting me on.” The same old
Novelties seemed far too medium
Up and down the North Fork as the wild

Fire died, Adrienne’s plane took off
And a ferry arrived behind tailor-made
Kindness’s everlasting budding holly.


* Consider nates.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force. He is married and has a daughter and three pets. His current home is the Mojave Desert. Jake’s poems have been published in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. He has published a chapbook: Looting Versailles, available from Alabaster Leaves Publishing. He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.

No Lemon, No Melon: A Conversational Poem in Palindromes

A poem by Yuan Changming


Lon Nol, don’t nod!
________Did I?

Was it a cat I saw?
________I did.

Sit on a potato pan, Otis!
________Madam?

Eva, can I see bees in a cave?
________I am Adam.

Red rum, Sir, I murder!
________Wow!

Step on no pets!
________I did?


Yuan Changming edits the online poetry blog and publication Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. He has been nominated for a number of Pushcart Prizes.

Antigone: Of Revenge

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


In all her urgency she ventured.
The world beyond the world she knew
was there for the curious kind.
And promises, so loosely bound,
dared to defy expectations
of the cautious claims
that had no right to her mind.
Considering every verity,
she heard what was to be
no more than evasion.

Hers was a truth transforming.
She spoke of restoration,
of changes to be made
in cartographies of the antique.
Moving by implication
into an audacious child,
so unusual in her need
to be undefined.
an available reality, she prayed
in the silence between storms.

Her zest was tempestuous fortune,
and so persuasive the means,
her qualifying mercy
of behaving badly
all for the good of all.


Geoffrey Heptonstall’s novel, Heaven’s Invention, is available in hardback and paperback from Black Wolf. He has recently had his writing published in Scarlet Leaf Review, The London Magazine, and The Global Dispatches.

Diffusion / NBA Finals, 2016

A poem by James Croal Jackson


Pacing around the bar crowd, watching
the Cavaliers transfer heat to one another through
bullet passes around invisible perimeters, Kurt

and I keep drinking the strangers toward us.
“Gaseous diffusion,” he offers. “Alcohol
is only molecules bumping into each other.”

Our bodies generate more heat with every swig,
the atmosphere tense but warm through
our gullets. We chug chaos in the blur,

invite a thousand basketballs to bounce up
and down halfcourt. The players don’t notice
our dribbled words in soundwaves processed

a million different ways in the space between
earlobe and brain. Endlessly the spectators
chant go to sleep because no one we want

to talk to wants to talk to us, our zigzagged steps
combining with the sound of a team on the verge
of climbing a challenging mountain though

the peak is steep so we try nothing more
but the drinks that keep us moving. To stop
would be to hear the room’s haunting cheer.


James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory. (Writing Knights Press, 2017.) His poetry has appeared in Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio, or contact him via his website.

Misfits

A poem by David Lohrey


Say hello, Guido.
Why the hell not?
Even he deserves a kind word.
Even Guido rates a greeting.
Hello, Guido. Calm the fuck down.

This Guido is an American icon.
He’s my uncle. He’s my father.
I have a brother named Guido, too.
Here’s the thing: Guido’s a thug.
Guido spends his days thinking up bad things to do.

Do you know what’s going on?
Security guards stealing from banks.
Clerks forgetting to ring customers up.
Bartenders giving away drinks.
Police robbing and raping working women.
Presidents selling arms to terrorists.

Say hello to Guido, who breaks necks
for a living. His talent is stabbing people
in the back and twisting the knife.
He just bought a house on West Clover Drive.
His son wants a tricycle for his birthday.

If you don’t know who Guido is,
I’d say you are a lucky man.
You can wear the magic jacket and
distribute coffee beans from your car.
You can sleep at night with your sister.
You can step up to the mic.

You’ll say be nice because Guido is gay.
You’ll say remember that Guido is mentally ill.
You’ll say Guido deserves a second chance.
Some will say Guido is a hero.
I say Guido should be whipped.
Take Guido to the square and tie him up.

Guido and his gang wreck havoc
everywhere they go. They don’t
deserve a second chance. Crime
is not a misunderstanding. Guido is not
your friend. He is not your brother nor your sister.

Loyalty is out of order. Stay away.
Lunatics don’t deserve mercy. Save it
for the less fortunate: you and me, just
little ants trying to make a living.
We don’t deserve to be stepped on.
Monsters do.


David Lohrey is from Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and Boxcar Poetry Review. Some of his recent poems have appeared in the U.S. publications Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and The Broke Bohemian. His book, The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published last year in Germany. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in August by Sudden Denouement Publishers. David lives in Tokyo.

Mr. and Mrs. Adam and Eve

A poem by David Lohrey


Illegals are to be called the undocumented.
Changing names does wonders.
His bastard is a love-child.
Why not move right into the fantasy?

Changing names does wonders.
Drop the love-child off at the orphanage.
Why not move right in?
We won’t call them criminals; we’ll call them underprivileged.

Drop the love-child off at the orphanage.
Plaster over all our bruises; cover our cracks.
We won’t call them criminals; we’ll call them underprivileged.
Talking filth can sound pretty if you bang a tambourine.

Plaster over our bruises; cover our tracks.
One can issue a death sentence while playing the piano.
Talking filth can sound pretty if you bang a tambourine.
We had that with the Germans: musical exterminations.

One can issue a death sentence while playing the piano.
Your killer needn’t be called a criminal.
We had that with the Germans.
We’ll call him a liberator, an emancipator, or an engineer.

Your killer needn’t be called a criminal.
I like to spit on my hand and shake.
We’ll call him a liberator, an emancipator, or an engineer.
Others like lawyers; they prefer fancy language.

I like to spit on my hand and shake.
Why can’t the government pay our bills?
Others like lawyers; they prefer fancy words.
Send someone over to clean up my yard.

Why can’t the government pay our bills?
Take the profits away from the Waltons.
Send someone over to clean up my yard.
Give us a charge account at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Take the profits away from the Waltons.
The rich can pay for it.
Give us a charge account at Saks Fifth Avenue.
What’s the deficit got to do with it?

The rich can pay for it.
We give up.
What’s the deficit got to do with it?
Call it anything you want.

We give up.
Take away the burden of daily life.
Call it anything you want.
Take us back to Eden. We give up.


David Lohrey is from Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and Boxcar Poetry Review. Some of his recent poems have appeared in the U.S. publications Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and The Broke Bohemian. His book, The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published last year in Germany. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in August by Sudden Denouement Publishers. David lives in Tokyo.

Bluff City

A poem by David Lohrey


An idle tree wants cutting down.
If we apply the rules of thermo-
dynamics, growing radishes in one’s
back yard makes no sense. Let
it be raspberries on prickly bushes,
not dirty little roots in the ground.

This is a treatise on good sense.
Like Swift’s argument in favor of eating
children, mine is a defense of watching
too much TV. Let’s distribute footballs
to the redskins; let’s send the whites back
to Europe.

I once knew a fat chick named
Trish whose boyfriend knocked all
my teeth out. My braces held them
in place as the blood ran out of my mouth.
Even at 16, young men in the South
fight over women’s breasts; only in my
day, we called them tits.

Peaches bruise easily in the heat.
I wouldn’t leave the pool gate open
at mid-summer. The neighbors might
walk in on an afternoon orgy. One
forfeits one’s right to privacy when
one makes oneself available.
I wouldn’t advise working for a company
that withholds anything, least of all
one’s lunch money.

Pecan pie is overrated, like a lot of
Southern dishes. Half of sales go
to tourists who haven’t a clue.
They’d buy a bottle of molasses
with a ribbon tied around its neck.
Hell, they’d go down on a dick painted
red. Most tourists are out and out liars,
like first-time home buyers and
presidential candidates.

The squealing never stops.
There’s a lot of commotion.

Our President’s been caught with his pants
down; our priests have stopped smoking.
My best friend built a yurt with a marble floor
and a padded cell for throwing tantrums.
The transformation is now complete.
The destroyers are triumphant; the victims,
silent; and the observers, transfixed. Is it
time for advancement or retreat?
I’d say, where are the people of color?
That’s always the question; or that’s the always
question.

Rose bushes will snag. They’ll catch if you don’t
watch it. It’s not just your stockings that’ll run.
Roses draw blood. I’d get to work, and while
you’re at it, prune the damned bird of paradise.
After that, you can head for the basement.
When all the work is done, you can lay your
head down in the oven.

Different strokes for different folks;
we are all part of this tale.
For reasons that cannot be easily
explained, the author is distraught.


David Lohrey is from Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and Boxcar Poetry Review. Some of his recent poems have appeared in the U.S. publications Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and The Broke Bohemian. His book, The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published last year in Germany. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in August by Sudden Denouement Publishers. David lives in Tokyo.