Clip-on

A poem by Gale Acuff


At church they say that when I die I’ll go
to Heaven—and they should know, I guess. I
have to be good, though, and when I sin, I
have to pray to be forgiven. And I
can’t sin on purpose and get off the hook
although I’m not sure why—something about
being a hypocrite. After Sunday

 

School I walk back home and take off my clip
-on bow tie and put it in my pocket
and pull my shirttail out and blow bubble
gum and step into the woods to pee. I
come out again and can make out our house
at the top of the hill. I can’t live there
forever. I’ll have to graduate from
high school and maybe go to college and
graduate from it, too—hope it’s not hard
—and find a job and get married and have
children and then retire and be old
and play with my grandchildren and then die.
That’s when I’ll meet God—or meet Him again,
if I knew Him before I was born. I
don’t remember now but maybe I will
when I see Him. Or maybe I’ll just hang

 

until the Judgment Day, which means
lying and shriveling up and rotting
in my pine box in the ground until all’s
up. And then I’ll see Him. I’ll be a soul
by then, however—invisible, but
God will know it’s me. Without eyes I’ll see
Him as clearly as day. Into the Lake
of Everlasting Fire, he roars. Sure thing,
I say, but I was really hoping for
better. Suddenly I’m neck-deep in flames
—maybe they will purify my spirit.
And if it’s Eternity then there’s no
time to worry about. A soul can burn
—I know that now. Brother, do I ever.

Gale Acuff is an assistant professor at the Arab American University in Palestine. He has taught English in the Palestinian West Bank, the U.S., and China. His poetry has been published in Ascent, the Ohio JournalDescant, Poem, the Adirondack Review, the Coe Review, the Worcester Review, the Maryland Poetry Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse Press, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse Press, 2008).

First Contact

A poem by Holly Day


The dolphins at the zoo have begun to realize
the errors manifest in trying to communicate
with humans. Too many attempts at peaceful negotiations
have been met as requests for more fish.

The people in the cages have begun to realize
that the aliens regard them as only
pets or fresh meat. Any attempts to engage in serious conversation
have been met as requests for more corn chips
and snack cakes.


Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities (Wilderness Press, 2009), Music Theory for Dummies (Wiley, 2015), and Ugly Girl (Shoe Music Press, 2015).

My Night’s Two Hands

A poem by Paul Brookes


against exits and entrances,
eyes cornered by sleepdust.

Riff raff cast offs witter
as they’ve seen better.

Day is two rats in a bag
snotting one another.

Light, light against the living of the rage.
Life measured out in how many
plastic carry bags for your shopping.


Paul Brookes was and is a shop assistant. He was previously employed as a security guard, postman, administrative assistant, lecturer, and performer in the Rats for Love poetry troupe. (His poetry has been included in Rats for Love: The Book (Bristol Broadsides, 1990).)

His first chapbook, The Fabulous Invention of Barnsley, was published by Dearne Community Arts in 1993; his second chapbook, The Headpoke And Firewedding, was published by Alien Buddha Press; his third, A World Where, was published by Nixes Mate Press; and his fourth, The Spermbot Blues, was published by OpPRESS.

Brookes has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol, and hosted a creative writing workshop for sixth formers (grades 11-12 high schoolers) on BBC Radio Five Live. Some of his written work has recently appeared in Clear Poetry, Nixes Mate Review, Live Nude Poems, The Bezine, The Bees Are Dead, and other publications.

Feel free to visit his website!

Latvia, 1861

A poem by Matt Dennison


A cord of blood sausage wrapped
within his throat, he spat a suet pile
and slipped into the sod-house unseen
by his wife. Never having tried to fire
the crockeries of their time, he squinted
through the mud-slots as she lumbered
about, finally to settle beside a sickly
calf to study its urine pool for signs.
They worked for different sovereigns:
hers a cauldron of entrailed darkness
imbued with bleak idiocy—that biblical
humbug hung fast about their necks—
his a vodka panacea for the pigsties of
their lives, never raised upon the same pike
as the other’s. Nearby, the boy stood
stupid in the sunflowers as an eel-slide
of curses welled his loins to burst upon
them from the sod-house. Fury spent,
he stopped counting and swam into
the sun. Remembering he once had dined
on lobster while his fishwife, frightened
by the cutlery, keened for chum, the sight
of old lemons on the sod-shelf roused him,
crouched behind the serving girl, tonguing
her fresh mustards: delicious, faint, ripe.


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also developed short films alongside Michael Dickes, Swoon (Marc Neys), and Marie Craven.

The Postman Does Not Deliver

A poem by Paul Brookes


insists she break the law,
stuffs his heavy, packed bags

around their home, under the stairs,
in the loft. Other folk’s messages

and parcels never arrive
as he sups pints in the local,

pots balls over the green baize.
She sees him chat up lasses

in the pub, online, changes
his FB profile to single,

She coddles their new bairn
till he returns to her why.


Paul Brookes was and is a shop assistant. He was previously employed as a security guard, postman, administrative assistant, lecturer, and performer in the Rats for Love poetry troupe. (His poetry has been included in Rats for Love: The Book (Bristol Broadsides, 1990).)

His first chapbook, The Fabulous Invention of Barnsley, was published by Dearne Community Arts in 1993; his second chapbook, The Headpoke And Firewedding, was published by Alien Buddha Press; his third, A World Where, was published by Nixes Mate Press; and his fourth, The Spermbot Blues, was published by OpPRESS.

Brookes has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol, and hosted a creative writing workshop for sixth formers (grades 11-12 high schoolers) on BBC Radio Five Live. Some of his written work has recently appeared in Clear Poetry, Nixes Mate Review, Live Nude Poems, The Bezine, The Bees Are Dead, and other publications.

Feel free to visit his website!

Baltimore City, 2016

A poem by William C. Blome


Sparrows pompous, pompous, on a granite ledge
and green willows clutching silver trunks—
hugging the shit out of the mothers—
as circus elephants’ll surely panic methodically
if you keep stuffing your tits in my nostrils again
and again. Yet a truly much-feared rainstorm
simply doesn’t get here close to lunchtime,
and I’m pressured big-time by your girl friend
to quit pulling on my own sugary peter,
as some tomato growers from the Eastern Shore
take turns pissing in the privacy of their truck.


William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as Poetry London, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers, and The California Quarterly.

Hammer Face

A poem by Matt Dennison


One night after dinner
our father rose from the table
walked into the parlor
sat before the piano
pulled two packs
of thumbtacks
from his pants
slit the packs
with stiletto slid
from shirtsleeve
into hand and back
opened the piano top
worked a tack into every hammer face
ragtime’d wild for twenty minutes
and never played again.


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also developed short films alongside Michael Dickes, Swoon (Marc Neys), and Marie Craven.

Down in the Country

A poem by Jack D. Harvey

(Published in The RavensPerch, September, 2017.)


I found dancing does,
roses waving on their stems,
hobos, vagrants of all sorts
roving around my back forty.
The does ate the roses, the rogues
kicked the does to kingdom come or
into the woods, I think.

Who knows?

Yesterday, a gorbellied tramp
came to my door or
knocked on my window.

Who remembers?

He said “Jesus, you’ve got some
sweet setup here, pal o’ mine,
wait’ll the nosy distant neighbors
see and hear about it,
look over the fences,
listen at the door,
tell the authorities.”

“Oh, go to hell, I don’t care,”
I said to him,
I am the god of
my house, my garden.

“Hell is my god,” said the tramp,
bursting into tears;
“my dear old dead dad
went there in a handbasket.
Pot Riley, they called him,
he drank a lot and
now I carry his pack,
on my back,
a sort of monument,
an empty sack of nothing
you can touch;
just memories and
paradigmatic gestures.”

After that lost unraveled language,
a locution, a fancy word,
I had to give him something;
something for nothing
is always nice.

I gave him a rose.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets Coalition, the University of Texas Review, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle “Sweet Adeline”, use a knife and fork, and killed a postman.

Invictus

A poem by Jack D. Harvey


The coolness of night chills;
from the frail body
the rasp of night scours
dreams, visions like rotten iron.
Fires are burning in
hell that would hold
even the infinity
of God;

Satan has conceptions.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets Coalition, the University of Texas Review, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle “Sweet Adeline”, use a knife and fork, and killed a postman.

My Character’s Death

A poem by Alyssa Trivett


Record relaying to needle
blood seeping in
room top-spins and my head
kicks the coffee-burned throat
half scowl up again. Circus tumbles
and words water-slide down my arms into cement.
Made conversation in sample cup wisps
with the electric fan blades whirring.
Fingernails chomped off like a wine cork, obliterated.
Someone is calling my name from the other room, or maybe,
it is the neighbors’ ghosts who never introduced themselves
yelling get off my lawn kids insults through the vents.
The last movie-thought displays in my head.
and piano neck wires snap,
this is death, this is death!
I can’t tap dance off the stage,
I never had the correct shoes to begin with.


Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from America’s Midwest. When not working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas station receipts. Her work has recently appeared online at VerseWrights, In Between Hangovers, and Hidden Constellation. She has fifteen poems featured in an anthology entitled Ambrosia, a collaboration with eight other poets, released by OWS Ink, LLC.