Storm and the Woman by John Grey

Storm and the Woman
Jessie was frightened of the lightning.
Not the thunder, that was just noise, and she’d been
married to a man who boxed in his spare time.
And the rain was nothing. In fact, she welcomed the rain.
But lightning could hit any place, any time,
and not just some solitary forest tree or an old barn
about to fall anyhow but a living, breathing human being.
She sat with this new guy on the couch,
hugged him so close like she was trying to get
inside him for protection.
And then the thunder rolled loud and near.
She shuddered. “I didn’t think you
were afraid of thunder,” he said.
But she’d just remembered the times
her ex whacked her face suddenly, violently.
Lightning, thunder…it was near impossible
to separate the two.
Then the clouds broke and the rain poured. She started
to sob violently. “Always used to cry like this when he hit me,”
she said. “Maybe you’re different,” she added.
He was. And then eventually storms were different.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie
Review and failbetter.

The Finding by John D. Robinson

IMG_3131 (4)
The Finding
‘You can be saved’
he told me,
‘Like me’
he said,
one time male
prostitute and
heroin addict
who found god and
a woman to
marry and had
‘Saved from what?’
I asked
‘From sin,
from debauchery,
from hell’ he
replied confidently:
3 or 4 years
later he’d left
his wife, moved into
a city
apartment with a
male lover
who died of AIDS
and several months
later he died of a
heroin overdose:
I’m still here,
drinking wine,
smoking hash
and swallowing
heaven and hell
we’ll meet again
sometime soon
my friend.

I Am Afraid of the Dark by Phil Rowan

I Am Afraid of the Dark
Someone is
cleaning the mess
I left behind.
They handle
and caress my body
which is what I
longed for most of all.
Talking about families
and news events,
ignoring the body
sounds and twitches
that are familiar,
I hope they don’t smoke
while doing their work
I’m allergic to tobacco
it makes me cough
Their work done,
calling it a day,
flip the switch,
leave the room.
I am afraid
of the dark.
I naturally want
to curl like a babe
but I can’t move,
the slab is
uncomfortably cold
even for the dead.
Pops and creaks
interrupt the deafening
Desperate to call out,
hoping I’m not alone,
my tongue,
a leathery flap,
lies still.
I am afraid
of the dark.
I sense a strangeness,
a void,
no rhythmic breathing,
no pulsing sensation,
No activity to gauge my
existence, except…….
mental awareness.
Awareness of no one there
to comfort me in the darkness.
I am afraid
of the dark
Phil Rowan graduated from Western Kentucky University with a BA in Psychology. He is a self taught artist specializing in landscape and still life.  He has a passion for writing traditional and free verse poetry.

Sub – Zero Visibility by Vandana Kumar

Sub – Zero Visibility
The city with masks
Buy one
Get one free
Works for PM2.5
It screams
And you put it on
You pass the sewages
You don’t notice the smell
The urchins
Long since removed
From your lexicon
The ghettos you cross
Such trepidation
Caught in parking lots
Can’t reverse
Can’t move ahead
And 4am extremities for the insomniac
Either porn
Or religious discourse
The districts in old town
Offer you flesh
Come hither looks
Or boast such purity
You think
She never ever touched herself
‘Smoke gets in your eyes’
The city and its mask
Works well for PM2.5
It taught you how to shed tears
But muffled the cries
Vandana Kumar is a bon vivant who loves travelling, working with young minds and exploring possibilities beyond the ordinary. A middle school French teacher in New Delhi, her passions include playing the piano.  She has been published at ‘GloMag’, ‘Scarlet Leaf Review’, ‘Destiny Poets’. One of her poems was shortlisted and published by the “All India Poetry Society.

Welcome to LA by Gary Duehr

Welcome to LA
Here’s some on-street casting.
Three tough guys, huddled by the curb, like a lasting
Vision from some film clip:
A kid in shades, Marlboro at his lip,
Who’s taking it all in.
The older dudes in Polo shirts, deep in conversation,
Intense as any Method actor.
From birth to death they’ll stay in character,
In case a call to “Action!”
Booms out through the air—to catch one
Fraction of their life in celluloid
And so sidestep the void.
It’s Miami or LA, somewhere too sunny.
The light is thin and bright, as crisp as money.
And the Oscar goes to… Best ’80s Costume?
Best Weathered Face? Best Cigarette? To whom
Does this scenario belong?
Someone who’s out of sight, beyond the throng
That’s streaming down the street?
Anything could happen next. “A bite to eat?”
One of the Polo dudes could say. Or: “You’re dead.”
Maybe both at once: first lunch, and then a bullet to the head.

Courtesy Sommerville News

Gary Duehr has taught poetry and writing for institutions including Boston University, Lesley University, and Tufts University. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. In 2001 he received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, and he has also received grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the LEF Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. His books of poetry include In Passing (Grisaille Press, 2011), THE BIG BOOK OF WHY (Cobble Hill Books, 2008), Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999).

Working on the night shift by Casey Killingsworth

post office
Working on the night shift
When you retire from your work you look
back on the jobs you did as if they were
nothing but stories. When the Easterns
said there is no past, that’s what they meant:
other than the pain that’s in your bones right
now, the here and now, everything else is just
words you distribute to your younger friends.
Anyway, I did the math the other day and
figured out I spent a third of my working
years on the midnight shift, working while
you slept, trying to be quiet so I didn’t
wake you, missing the sun. Every time you
woke to pee or get a glass of water I was
watering a golf course or sending trucks
out from some post office dock, and on
your way to work I was on my first beer.
I did the math and figured out I’m not
tired anymore, at least not the tired that
comes from fighting for the chance to
dream, or from envying sleep like it’s my
neighbor’s big house. I can go to sleep
whenever I want now, and sometimes
I just want to sleep forever
Casey Killingsworth has been published in The American Journal of Poetry, Kimera, Spindrift, Rain, Slightly West, Timberline Review, COG, Common Ground Review, Typehouse, Bangalore Review, Two Thirds North, and other journals. His book of poems, A Handbook for Water, was published by Cranberry Press in 1995. As well he has a book on the poetry of Langston Hughes, The Black and Blue Collar Blues (VDM, 2008). He has a Master’s degree from Reed College.

Two Poems by Lowell Jaeger

under car

Everyone Does Something Well

                                                            for Clayton

He stutters, reading aloud: Write
five paragraphs describing something you do well.
He rubs and rubs the pencil eraser across his stubbled chin.
His husky war-veteran’s shoulders hunched
over the blank page.  Needs the entire hour
to carve out six lines of hieroglyphics, one scrawling
              something concerning his tour of duty
as a helicopter mechanic.  Okay, I say.
That’s a start.
He’s flat on his back beneath my car,
having run one tire up an icy snowbank,
clearance enough for him to worm under.
He’s opened a dented toolbox and set it nearby,
asking me to hand over the tools he calls for.
He wants a 19mm wrench.  A cold, difficult wind
spits snow in my face.  I can’t read
the tiny numbers etched in the battered steel.
No, he says quietly to the wrong tool.
He reaches, groping blindly.
Selects the right one.
I’m shuffling an awkward jitterbug to keep warm.
I’m watching his hands.
The old starter out, a new one installed
in about as much time as I’d need
to write my own five paragraphs.  Maybe less.
Who’s That? 
She’s posed like a tabloid starlet, one foot
lifted to the running board of a lustrous black Pontiac,
lips spiced with a flirty smile, an outlaw Bonnie
stepping toward the edge of infamy
as Clyde exits the bank in a firestorm
with sacks of cash, and the couple dash
into the deliciously dangerous and romantic yonder.
Instead, she marries our father, a soldier
home from combat, settles into what must have seemed
a monotonous routine — diaper bags, spit rags, heaps
of laundry, floors to sweep, never ending
cycles of meals to concoct and sinks full of pots and pans.
Who’s that? my siblings and I ask, paging
through a moldering family album
of black and white scalloped-edge
box camera snapshots.
She’s just past teenage in the photo,
showing off for the lens.  A puzzling contrast
to the woman we knew who stood back
and looked downcast when the flashbulb flashed.
Lowell Jaeger (Montana Poet Laureate 2017-2019) is author of eight collection of poems, most recently Earth-blood & Star-shine (Shabda Press in 2016).  He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.