If I Didn’t Have My Thousand Acres

The old man tells me, “If I didn’t have my thousand acres,

I would die.” He doesn’t realize he is in the hospital

emergency waiting room. “If I didn’t have my wife,

I would die.” He looks at me sincerely, clearly unaware

of the situation at hand, his hand trembling

on the arm of his wheelchair. “She’s at home

making supper for the hired help, you know,

when they come back from driving cows to pasture.”

But he hasn’t had cattle for over thirty years,

and his acreage now only exists framed in pictures

in his small room at the nursing home where his wife

also was full of life before she died five years ago.

I know because the man’s caretaker told me

when she wheeled him in to wait, just in case

he needed to say goodbye to his daughter

rushed in by ambulance an hour before.

Aware the woman’s heart attack was massive,

I casually ask if he has any children. He hesitates,

tries to remember, then settles, “No, I don’t think so,

but if I did and anything happened to them, I would die.”

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb is the author of the chapbook, Shapes That Stay (Kelsay Books, 2021). Her poetry has appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Weber: The Contemporary West, About Place Journal, High Desert Journal, Clockhouse, AJN: The American Journal of Nursing, Terrain.org, and many other journals. She holds an interdisciplinary MA and has served in various capacities as an educator, a researcher, and an editor.

It’s Possible

I believe that if you rub the forehead

of a captured crow clockwise

in small circles, it will gift you

with the knack of comprehension

teach you to understand the cawing

conversations of its cousins, those

who’ve roosted darkly in the maples,

and now are waking up the day.

I heard the congregation, all

the crows’ brash chattering above

the morning mist rising from the river

still lavender with hope.

I am dubious, although I’d like to trust

that this bright river rattling through the gorge

will come soon to a shallow peace, flash

its stony gifts, glinting catch-eyes for the crows.

Beth Spencer

Beth Spencer currently lives near Minneapolis, MN, loves travel, and is a notable example of the persistence of hope over experience. She has been messing about with poetry since fifth grade when she won a “Why I Like to Read Good Books” contest by submitting her essay in poem form.

The Funeral

Bloodied chrysanthemums envelop

The blurred lines of the paint-strewn floor

Casting shadows in the midst

Of broken light, fragmented scenes

Memories unended, just started

The gleaming red exit sign

In the back

Hurts my eyes; I was told

That the church was a safe place

Somehow, it makes me feel

Empty.

Conjoined benches

Of wispy outlines, ghosts whose

Hourglasses broke too early

Used to hold gold, left dust
In their goodbyes

Silence pursues

Every so often disrupted

By whispers of white lies

That reflect off the silk-covered altar

Losing their voice

To the slightest breath of wind

I once saw a garden outside the bounds

Of these wood-shaven walls

Ruby-dipped roses

Once I turned my head

They were gone

Maybe I hold on to things

That aren’t meant for me

Hannah Zhang

Hannah Zhang is a 16-year-old aspiring writer from Tucson, Arizona. She enjoys reading all kinds of novels, leaning towards adventure and fantasy. Inspired by the beauty of nature, she frequently incorporates it into her stories and poems. She has been writing since a young age and sees it as an outlet to express herself. She hopes that her writing can inspire readers to appreciate the beauty of life and the world we live in. Hannah’s work has been recognized at the Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition and published in Girls Right The World, The Weight Journal, TeenWritersProject Quarterly Lit Zine magazine, Cathartic Literary Magazine, Journal of Undiscovered Poet (forthcoming), Idle Ink and Eternal Haunted Summer.

Anchor

“. . . until someone finds you / something else to do.”

                                                            Leonard Cohen

The anchor is a victim

no more than the dripping oars

or the lines made taut

by soft lead sinkers.

The anchor is not a poem

but a guide with sand in its eyes

and a hook too big and blunt

for any mouth.

The anchor is a contract

not of glory but of patience

between surfaces and hours,

flashing lure and fading light.

The anchor is a prayer for the father and son

and for the boat kneeling before the reeds

as it reaches for each shore

carrying its own lake and a coiled rope.

Jeffrey Thompson

Jeffrey Thompson was raised in Fargo, North Dakota, and educated at the University of Iowa and Cornell Law School. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where he practices public interest law. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Neologism Poetry Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, The Main Street Rag, Passengers Journal, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Tusculum Review, FERAL, and Unbroken. His hobbies include reading, hiking, and photography.

from AT THE MUSARIUM

[28401 – 28500]

 

“What sclerotic bibliomaniac,

coincidental with his psychologist,

bussed in these upflung glossaries & down-

loaded them to the icebox?” abridges

a crapulous Nigerian who yaws

again to sidestep a hyperbolic

Swazi cannonball. (That was touch-&-go.)

What a worrier! What a temerarious

ranter! (Here he yorks in order to toughen

his sphincter.) What a miniscule klepto-

maniac! “Must they all, on a bender

of mayhem & abomination, gimp

at the bloodroot of organizational

racism, interacting only to

revitalize their blurry egos?”

[28601 – 28700]

 

Now, at mid-May in Trapani, plangent

stickleback, with scalene asymmetry,

sheave the seaway in free-for-all bonding

& fusiform interrelation. Was it

Polyhymnia that gelt Castrato?

Does dialog desktop shareware outrank

the monochromatic brume of all this

iconography? Was it wrongheaded

accountancy or simply numismatics

that overlie the Oslo Olympics?

Would’ve anything kept the pterodactyl

from the piglets? Would’ve it been so

allegedly ultra-exceptional

for the oligarch to misplace his Jeep?

[23601 – 23700]

 

One AM in the insectivorous

Maldives where busybodies dismantle

their esculent lingerie glumly

& etymologically, yet uncontested.

Ah, cohabitation. . . .  Crap! A matchlock!

Pappy, oh Pappy! A motorcycle

advertises such vulgarism &

wastage while hare-brained tom-tom outbid them,

nog upon nog, & coagulation

of  the Eucharist actuates

zodiacal, agnostic sciatica.

For colophon, the bravura, baroque

nocturne of a fledgling saleswoman:

Best to lacerate then sprint away.

[23901 – 24000]

Relight the astrolabe fey Netherlander,

for I’m conflicted.  Though I peddle my

unheroic tricycle, all godspeed

& weirdness, at evensong a bullfinch

deadens the seamless margrave with saltpeter.

Relight the handspike, for this nerve-racking

snapshot is mushy & insubstantial

as a puree of bumptious Newtonian

transcendentalism.  Mime on moony

stammerer. Relight the ovule, gullible

ventriloquist, & outflank the buttock of

coronary morbidity:  for screed

is pottle to the teetotaler, as

instrumentation is prophylactic

to the wolverine.

[33001 – 33100]

Pocked with paintwork, Lulu mighta been

moonlighting. No tomboyish shogun, but

no sadist, either, she was as left-wing

& luminescent as the Erinyes

on the freeway. She could scam a Rodin

out of a hexahedron. She mighta

been a godforsaken luddite, but her

mega-wonky weathervane, as much as

her hedonic headwind, was undepraved.

We getup to publicize the “gotcha”

lovage of salami knackers &

overplay the Maharashtra back in

Muskogee. What mighta been!  Instead we’re

goners for gimlet-eyed ophthalmology.

 

Peter J. Grieco

Peter J. Grieco is a retired English professor and former school bus driver. His poems are widely published in small magazines on-line and in print. His blog “At the Musarium and Other Writings” [https://pjgrieco.wordpress.com/] archives much of this work. His chapbook collection of ekphrastic verse, “The Bind Man’s Meal,” is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Justin Lacour

Thursday, 12:20 p.m.

Tug is listening to music at his desk.

“What’s that instrument that sounds

like a washing machine?” asks Claire.

Tug says “That’s what we in the industry

call a ‘drum,’ Claire.”

A single eyelash falls from my face,

into my yogurt cup.

A redbird taps its head against the window.

Saturday, 2:22 p.m.

I’m deep in the forest right now.

I have no time to listen

to grown men argue

whether Bib Fortuna

survived Jedi or not.

I want the forest in this poem

to function like the forest

in Shakespeare comedies:

A place of working things out,

unencumbered by social constraints.

But I may have learned that wrong.

Thursday, 3:25 p.m.

No one talks about Jane’s Addiction anymore.

Their admixture of heart and decadence.

They seemed so important at the time.

I wish a machine would take me back.

Spring is here with its dampness

and smell of shit.

A guy balancing on a skateboard

with an armful of flowers.

Justin Lacour

Justin Lacour lives in New Orleans and edits Trampoline: A Journal of Poetry. He is the author of the chapbook My Heart is Shaped Like a Bed: 46 Sonnets (Fjords 2022).

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