Archive | Poetry

Land for Sale by Pat West

Time and time again,
in the darkest hours of the night,
I have gone down
on my hands and knees
and painstakingly measured
the empty space you left
when you died, so vast
and deep: I’m tired of living with it,
so I’ve decided to put it on the market.

Property values are soaring,
there are even bidding wars.
Oh, I won’t sell to just anyone,
wouldn’t want to wake up one morning
and find a strip mall in my heart.
But I could live with an art museum
or maybe . . . yes,

a library with vaulted ceilings,
sprawling wings, quiet reading alcoves
off the main lobby, tables, lamps
with puddles of amber light
dotting the landscape.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

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The Blackout by John Grey

By day, Ted has much to say on any subject,
especially what’s in the newspapers.
Damn unions, he snarls. Damn government.
At night, his tongue retreats,
his head diverts the total darkness
by remembering this and that.
Gloria’s sunbathing. Ray’s in swimming.
Dave’s out fishing.
Gloria’s as thin as she’d like to be.
Ray can dive to the bottom, then float to the top,
breaking the surface with a gulp that snares half the air.
Dave claims to have reeled in a whale.
He just hopes that the sun doesn’t burn,
that the water is warm,
that the real fish do bite eventually.
But come the morning, it’s right back into politics.
The mailman gets an earful.
His neighbor knows everyone he hates
but no one he loves.
But then another night
and Ray’s swimming towards a lighthouse
and doesn’t that lighthouse look like Gloria
and what’s Dave going to do
but avoid the rocks thanks to Gloria’s light
and maybe even go after the schools of fish
that Ray is splashing in his direction.
Another day, this time the man
from the gas company cops the earful.
And then night and Gloria’s skinny and brown.
She’s lying on the shore of a lake.
Ray’s in swimming of course.
And Dave is salivating over the fish that leap out of the water,
so close he could reach out and grab them.
“Look, “says Gloria. “Here comes Ted”
Ray dog-paddles, looks in the direction she’s pointing.
Dave turns his head away from the dancing trout.
Ted crashes through the peacefulness
cussing out Democrats and Republicans equally.
Thank God they’ve finally fixed the power, he says.
First to them. Then finally just to himself.
He argues with the television until he falls asleep in front of it.
And then he dreams.
He dreams they never do restore the power.

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A Hush of Blackberries by Richard King Perkins II

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_fabiopagani'>fabiopagani / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

For the first time in years
I respond to you—

the rain,
with silence

even as you play little sticks
across my rooftop.

If you were to diminish
your flurry of stems

all that you want me to say
would yet remain unspoken.

The glaze of incoherence
you’ve left

still stirring above me
contains more meaning

than you ever intended—
kisses of togetherness

descending to a level
of unwanted compromise.

A hush of blackberries
rises to a place once loved.

About the Author: Richard King Perkins II

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA 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.

Almost Last Words by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_micheleranchetti'>micheleranchetti / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

On her deathbed,
oxygen 24/7,
sliding in and out of awareness,
Mother blinked her green eyes
up to mine.

Daughter, she whispered
in a scratchy, unused voice,
I love you so much –
and you drive me crazy.

I blinked my matching green eyes
full of wet shimmers and said,
I know, Mom.
I feel exactly the same.

We both sniffled, then laughed,
she held up her wasted arms.
I fell into them, carefully.
We blended our tears
on our smiling faces.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Ode to Film Noir by Pat West

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_nejron'>nejron / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

I love a city that can keep secrets
not to mention rain-slicked alleys
cluttered with garbage
abandoned warehouses dust hanging in the air
crowded bars boozy nights chiaroscuro lighting
slicing through venetian blinds
dark offices overlooking busy streets
a hard-boiled private detective
wearing a double-breasted suit
a good guy before one bad turn
made his life hell
I love the ballsy two-timing blonde
with thin eyebrows false lashes painted red lips
high heels snapping on the pavement
a dame who knows how to use men
to get what she wants
I love how the story unravels
conspiracy corruption murder
and how the bevy of hired hoods
barely have time to toss out more red herrings
before they get plugged
sure all the double crosses and backstabbing
make it hard to follow
but when I watch the sleuth
romance the doll with the pretty face
investigate an endless list
of seedy characters
I love the tight knot in my gut
just before the broad does him in

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

Long Journey by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

The river we paddled together,
skirting brushy banks,
avoiding boulders, portaging
around the crashing splendor
of waterfalls, that river
changed character
when you died.

I was becalmed for awhile,
drifting in aimless circles
on a still backwater
until I picked up my paddle,
continued downstream.

The river formed a new channel,
curves and flows more gently now
through grain-filled fields
and lowland woods
with shy browsing deer.

I paddle, one side then the other,
keep the canoe steady, on course,
admire the broad sky,
the herons and kingfishers,
splash of a trout.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Pinkness of Rain by Richard King Perkins II

Photo by Jake weirick on Unsplash

Despite the pinkness of rain
there’s no floating pathway

brittle

for the lover you drag behind you
like waterlogged cherry twist.

Your friends drink fancy wine
and quibble with the moon

while you sing a nimbus of trees
that silently comes to rise around me.

Show me your hideousness
my love, and I will make it lovely

so you’ll release the battlements
of rust

into an uncertain metamorphosis.

About the Author: Richard King Perkins II

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA 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.

The Final Test of Canonisation by Robert Beveridge

“When did I become such an undesirable blanket?” –Mary Biddinger, “Beatitudes”

Warnings, even the outdated ones,
are forever spoken in hushed tones.
You walk up the ramp and the man
with the sparse combover and the appropriate
relaxed-bowel sportcoat: “to the right,
please,” he murmurs, just above silent.
“The casket shall remain closed for the duration
of the viewing.” I bite back the obvious.

The room is full, and yet I can see nothing
(what flowers for saints and stuff?) but that
closed box, a refrigerator door meant to preserve—
what?—the nutrients that should return
to the soil, allow us to give back something
so small for all we have taken?

The viewing is what it is, what they all are. Family
members catch up on gossip from pruned branches.
Dinner plans are made, forgotten in trips
to the restroom. The children, unaware
of the purpose of this family reunion, play
in the basement until mischievous, touched
Uncle Michael takes them on a tour
of the morgue. The sandwiches in the back
room have less appeal now then the Hanobska
Chateau Marionette ’95 in the coffee dispenser.

One to four, then six to nine, and the two-
hour interim in which the family flee,
some to a light dinner, some to the local
paid-by-the-hour motel, most to the Linen Lounge,
where the lingerie dancers dress in funeral weeds
and the most popular drink is the zombie.
The director, sportcoat over his shoulder,
steps out for a two-hour chainsmoke and finally,
finally our time is here. We slip the catches
on the drawers, roll ourselves out. This is
our viewing, our private time, and we approach

the casket with reverence, trepidation.
Lift the lid on three, and what we could
not bear to believe lies before us—your body
pristine, untouched by disease, by accident,
by trochar. We slipped our arms beneath you,
where blood would pool, decay begin, and found
what we expected, yet not dared to hope—
the only mark an outrageous hickey, just above
(what is that called?), I put there three
days ago, when you were still alive,
still capable of touching pen to paper.
We had heard Mother Church requires
first photographic evidence, then physical
proof.

We did the only thing we could,
the one most right thing: six pallbearers
lined up, lifted the casket from among
its forest, marched in languorous step
toward the open door of the crematorium.
The fire rumbled, a gut promised
a singular, delectable meal.

About the Author: Robert Beveridge

Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Borrowed Solace, Dodging the Rain, and Twyckenham Notes, among others.

The Finale of December Fourteenth, Twenty-Sixteen by Æverett

Photo Credit: Caleb George via Unsplash

after a time had passed, he lay there breathing.

the stillness around him echoed, the night air cool on his skin.

the touches still lingered, tingling vibrations – whispers on hips, on thighs, on wrists.

it ached.

he ached, everywhere.

the violence was immense – torrid air in ragged lungs. the echoes of screams. the echoes of whispers.

finally, he lifted his aching arms, pushed the hair from his sticking face – drying sweat and sorrow.

from the next room, a gun shot from the tv, sirens, “Freeze! Get on the ground!” Lenny Brisco shouts. he wonders, “are there sirens coming for me?”

after a time had passed, he felt the bruises, the truth came flooding in. the cuts drove deeper. and he couldn’t breathe.

it ate at him, raw.

his skin caught fire in a rage and ran out the door into the falling snow.

his body remained caught in the rotation of the humming ceiling fan. in the silk of the cotton cocoon. in the dark of the deserted room.

the scraped bruises on his knees no longer bled.

the voice no longer made cruel demands of him.

but here he lay, trapped. his own skin a prison of pain. his whole body ablaze.

in the stink of drying sweat and sorrow.

About the Author: Æverett Æverett

Æverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

 

Nocturne With Bonfires and Volcanoes by Pat West

We celebrate our twenty-year class reunion,
notes vibrate through the atmosphere

full of frenzy like Debussy’s two movements:
Festivals and Sirens. Whirling around the bonfire

raising dust in the clearing behind the Grange Hall.
The band, a standup rock-and-crazy-roll group

with legs skinny as bed slats,
wail their tune of love lost and found and lost again.

The same story we heard back in high school
when we swayed to “Only the Lonely”

in the basement. Roy Orbison,
master of the romantic apocalypse

everyone dreaded.

A supersonic boom rattles windows

as Mount St. Helens blows out sideways.
The forest flattened

by a force equivalent to five hundred
Hiroshimas.

Ash billows from the new crater,
climbing miles into the sky. Blue lightning

flashes in the cloud. Downwind, for hundreds of miles,
day turns to night. Roads and airports close.

Ash falls like heavy snow. Downstream, rivers choke
with mud, trees and ice blocks.

Harry Truman, David Johnston and fifty-five others
lost under smoldering rubble.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

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