Intimations of Modernity by Howie Good

street preacher

Photograph by Don Scott

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Intimations of Modernity

You hear the screech of tires and some screams. You hear the roof vibrating and moving through the night. You hear about so-and-so committing suicide. You have to think of all the sounds like they’re a symphony, otherwise you’ll go crazy. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just want to know what actually happened. You glance one way and then the other. You ask, “Oh why can’t they get that baby out of the ground?” You don’t belong here. You need to leave. You have to have a bit of an attitude to pull it off. The police are the same as during Franco’s time, only they had horses back then. 

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The messiah of some obscure sect raged up and down the sidewalk, yelling, “I shall destroy all of the civilized world! You shall die by your own evil creation!” There was ash already in the air. I had never been in a war zone but I was pretty sure that this was what it felt like. By week’s end, I had become obsessed with my escape route. I pored over Google Maps, travel guides, railroad timetables. But, of course, when I opened the front door, I was confronted with fire. People just stood there and watched, happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise.

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I’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting. But actually experience it? No. Never. It’s like everyone is just doing Tarantino knockoffs. They’re imagining the pain of the bullets hitting them. I’ve seen the really bad stuff on television. They shoot seven people in the head, and then they rush to their cars and leave. What else could you have expected? This is our history, everywhere full of blood. It’s clear and simple, and it’s in HD.

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No, I don’t get it. How does anyone sleep at night or get through the day? We don’t yet have the tools to see what we’d really like to see. I can’t remember now why I ever thought we would. As we walk around, we meet orphans and autodidacts and then a man drinking in the woods. He keeps saying he’s going to kill someone. And no cops for miles. So, yeah, the best part of the day is early in the morning, very early, before something that hasn’t happened yet moves and just as suddenly stops moving. 

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A baby is crying on the ground. Everyone else is dead. No one I ask can tell me if this is real. “Sorry,” they just say. That’s the point. How we just don’t see very much of anything. There are so many refugees, and more coming all the time, and most of them have only a bit of white fluff, a frail bicycle, a bowlful of agriculture. I was once in a pretty bad car wreck. And it’s like that. We have a strange way of repeating history. I say “holy fuck” about 1,400 times a day.

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howie_good

Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press.

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You can view the photographs of Don Scott at this link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/106721552@N04/

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Knife in the Sleeve by Rich Ives

sunset
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Knife in the Sleeve
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Once a year you start over, trade two riverskins for a perched moonskull,
decorate it with gracious breaths of escaping light.
 
Aided by a prayer containing a sister that dances with chickens and piglets,
it’s as if you had really believed what the wind had told you.
 
It’s usually very sad. I feared the loneliness of successful celebration
and people in all the doorways and only wine bottles standing.
 
The reason I’m still scratching these kids was left over from yesterday’s misunderstandings, but that thing you do with your eyes shut
 
just deserves to be given away.
 
Look, Mister, says the mirror, I only want what you don’t need.
That’s too cute, says the mister, that’s way too cute, and
 
it’s usually very sad. I’m tempted to pull something out of the dark,
and I’m tempted to pull the dark out of something darker.
 
The vast democracy of recurrent emptiness says they’re all dead inside,
and no matter how much possibility floats by, she means it.
 
Eventually the wrong key fits the lock, and we’re in and out of ourselves
the way you know when you toss a coin too high it means
 
the answer could roll away.
 
I passed a baby carriage full of harmonicas and eggshells. I asked a woman on
the street for a light. She replied, Listen, Honey, you ain’t done stoppin’ yet.
 
Look to the doctor’s jacket mounted on sticks to scare crows,
his gaze wooden, which is to say older and longer and more useful.
 
Shopping yesterday for something I didn’t need, I watched pillaging
housewives disembark from designer cellphones and
 
a bread-fed lump of dove maneuvering for handouts beneath camel-
shouldered matrons in cautionary undergarments. We had nothing to eat
 
so we ate it and became each other.
 
First, separate the harmless, then eliminate the dangerous, and then,
if anyone’s left, take her to the wrong dance and see if she
 
pretends you’ve made the right choice. Stay with her, she’s the sound
of whispering in the far room of the wound. Sometimes I wish that
 
I would suffer more, that the causes of my suffering weren’t so ordinary
but appeared to be unique, admired. On the way to morning,
 
the darkness follows you from a long way off,
approaching from where you have already been in that dark,
 
which isn’t there anymore.
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rich

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the author of a fiction chapbook, Sharpen, from The Newer York Press, a story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, from What Books, a poetry collection Light from a Small Brown Bird, from Bitter Oleander Press and a hybrid book of days, Tunneling to the Moon from Silenced Press.

 

Bait by Daniel Casey

duck 3

stock photo

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Bait
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It’s one more duckling saved
by being pulled from a drainage grate,
another ‘watching this will change your life,’
unsolicited comment, humblebrag,
or don’t-ask-me-about-it-ask-me-about-it
status update. This is your life now. You wanted it,
you’ve got it. Couldn’t leave if you wanted to,
fact is. It’s a net and you’ve been trolled.
 
But no one makes you do anything.
Let me know, when that clicks.
 
You’re as old as your mom
was when she realized she
didn’t understand anything about you
anymore, as old as your dad
when he discovered none of it was
intuitive. They didn’t make this,
we did. Who taught our kids to
mediate our shared world with
such nonsense needing to be seen,
heard, amplified, denied, affirmed,
and not so much? This is not for us
any more than it was for them.
 
So, no, why don’t you not worry about it;
it’s not about you.
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author pic

Daniel Casey has a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame. He lives in Murray, Kentucky. He can be found on Twitter as @misanthropester

 

 

Monte Carlo Days & Nights by Susan Tepper

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By Lynette G. Esposito

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Monte Carlo Days & Nights by Susan Tepper is a book filled with delightful short and short short stories that both entertain and amuse.

Published in soft cover by Rain Mountain Press, the stories take the reader on journeys that encompass the contemporary experience.  Of the twenty-two stories, my favorite is Adjacent toCentral Park.  Tepper sets the situation of two lovers in an upscale hotel room and all is seemingly going well as the reader sees the scene from the female narrator’s point of view.  Then—all is not going so well from the physical standpoint. How can one have sex at the Ritz Carlton in New York City and not be able to take a hot shower afterwards?  The man at the front desk claims there is a water main break so there is no water at all in the hotel  A freebie is offered for next time.  For this time, our narrator and her companion send out for baby wipes just as if they were ordering pizza to be delivered.  She claims she has used them successfully on a plane in flight. The language and circumstance of the characters is realistic and believable. While the situation is farcical, the depiction of modern life is serious.

My second favorite of the stories is Monte.  It is simple, short, direct, and yet reveals the different ways men and women approach each other.  This story is more of a vignette rather than the beginning, middle, end structure of a fictional short story.  As a slice of life amidst the other stories, it works well in revealing two characters circling each other n a relationship. The suggestive images of the hotel, the swimsuit, the hunger work both literally and figuratively. Do women consider going topless…yes but no.  The reader is in the female narrator’s head.

The final story in the book, Dinner, brings closure to the days and nights depicted throughout the sequence of encounters.  Our narrator, wearing a red spandex dress and no pantyhose, looks so “hot” her lover proposes marriage if he were the marrying kind.  How sweet, how ironic how no discussion of love or respect– just almost cold analysis with lust as the common denominator.  Trepper has a light touch on a subject where so many others write a long agonizing soliloquy on the “he loves me, he loves me not” boy meets girl storyline.

The 74 page book is an easy read sharing a contemporized voice with modern perceptions and situations.

The author, Susan Tepper, has been a marketing manager, a flight attendant, an interior decorator, and an award-winning author.  To find out more about her go to:

wwwsusantepper.com 

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You can find the book here: Monte Carlo Days Nights

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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.

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Letters to Memory by Karen Tei Yamashita

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By g emil reutter
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Governor Brown of California issued a proclamation on February 19th, A Day of Remembrance: Japanese American Evacuation in the State of California. The proclamation read in part:
That thousands of Japanese American citizens were wrongfully interned in American concentration camps without charge and without a fair hearing continues to trouble the conscience of this Nation. The internment of Japanese Americans should serve as a powerful reminder that in defending this Nation and its ideals, we must do so as faithfully in the courtrooms and the public squares of this country as upon the battlefields.
 
It was by Executive Order 9066 issued by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 that American citizens were placed in internment camps, losing all freedom, all property but not their dignity or loyalty to the idea of the United States, a great number who served in the military of the United States. Many of these citizens remained in the camps until the end of World War II. The internment would not only have a profound impact on those forced into camps but on future generations.
 
In 1995 Karen Tei Yamashita went to Chicago where her Aunt Kay Yamashita had passed away. On her arrival she found packed clutter of boxes. She found two folders of interest. Kay’s wartime correspondence for Nisei Student Relocations and a second, personal correspondence. Gradually with her sister Jane Tomi an archive of their parent’s correspondence, photographs, audio tapes, homemade films, records and diaries were added. Letters to Memory is a history of the Yamashita and Tomi families, the internment camps taken from the archives blended with fiction in a fascinating historical account of this disgraceful act by the United States.
 
There are of course informants who reported back to the FBI on conversations, the idealistic Kay who once out of the camp to testify in a court case returns to the west coast and travels about to meetings against the internment, meeting with progressive religious leaders and such until she too returns to the camp. Yamashita engages with composite characters through a series of letters that are actually written to the reader exploring the internment, its meaning beyond just her family and the gross violation of civil rights these Americans had to endure.
 
Karen Tei Yamashita has written a chilling account, powerful in its presentation not only of the internment camps but of life that followed. Letters to Memory is a book that is a must read for those who have an interest in history but also for those who value civil rights and how quickly those rights can dissolve in the chaos of war.
 
You can find the book here: Letters to Memory
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g emil reutter can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

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Truth and Belief by Peter C. Scheponik

clouds
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Truth and Belief
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The morning sky sings her blues,
reaching high notes of cream-colored clouds
and a sponge-print moon.
The goldfinches are already in the garden
their black feet clinging to
the spiny faces of coneflowers
as the finches industriously
forage for food with their ebony beaks.
The yellow swallowtail dances, at the peak
of his power, drunk on nectar and his hour
to find love.
The Queen Anne’s Lace spreads the tablecloth
of her flowers across the field in preparation
for the feast, luring butterflies and bees
to celebrate, to drink, to eat their fill.
It seems the machinery of new day
cannot help but spill itself like life
in glowing currents of beauty bright,
glory of the morning light that fills the sky
with shine I can believe.
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Peter C. Scheponik has published four collections of poems: Psalms to Padre Pio (National Centre for Padre Pio, INC), A Storm by Any Other Name and Songs the Sea has Sung in Me (PS Books, a division of Philadelphia Stories), and And the Sun Still Dared to Shine (Mazo Publishers). His work has appeared in a number of journals, most recently All Sins Literary Journal, Adelaide Literary Magazine.

2 Poems by Stephen Bett

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 Lift Off 16 : textbook

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I accept
(in this “book
of acceptance”)
 
I accept what
the doctors
tell me—
 
You, love, are
mentally ill
& our time
so abruptly
done
 
I accept,
what else
can I
say?
 
Except that
I still hurt
some days
 
What the fook
else can be
expected?
Bruised
memories
collide,
bruise
again
 
And you are
dying daily
within me
by slivers
(like they
said you
would,
such smart
people &
we are
simply
text-
book)
 
Moving
across its
sheaths
of paper
 
Though the
slivers feel
like shards
at times
—glass
cutting this
very page
you left
blank
 
Back Principles (19) : sapien & cowardly heart
 
Been through the agoraphobic’s
desert, Yuma at 117 degrees
 
Life in the furnace under
a terrifying open sky
(no place to burrow)
 
You say I need to en-
dure the sweat-lodge,
sleep with snakes
& scorpions
at my side
(every fear alive)
 
Live a full week
w/ the Terrors
(find the buddha …
or the christ
magnified?)
 
You say …
you say …
 
And in you I
surely trust
(god help
me …)
 
True soul
touch me,
ease me
(somewhat …)
 
Horror wherein lurks
the desert of my
sapien &
cowardly
heart
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stephen-bett-main-thumb-autox560-4817
Stephen Bett has had eighteen books of poetry published.  His work has also appeared in well over 100 literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland, as well as in four anthologies, and on radio. Two additional collections are forthcoming: Lift Off: a journey of future tense and Back Principles: a journal of spiritual fatigue(Stephen Bett)
 

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