I went for a walk yesterday when a flock of wild turkeys flew over my head and landed feet first on my path. Then a commotion of wild dogs chasing wild hogs gathered around my legs but moved past, now hogs chasing dogs fleeing one lone wild cat with a tail that spun like a propeller. Now all I could think of were the wild one-eyed Jacks I drew to win a poker pot last Friday night, that and a wild hair up my ass kept me steady on my path that I’d long ago chosen instead of calm, the mere contemplation of calm left me blank in search of breath. What good is breath if you cannot pant? Just then a wild goose flew over and dropped an egg in my cap. I held it up and yelled, thanks. Days later its shell cracked and a good looking little gosling sang in my arms. “Born to be wild” was all I made out. I sang back “wild thing, I think I love you,” knowing the score.
Charles Springer has degrees in anthropology and is an award-winning painter. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he is published in over eighty journals including The Cincinnati Review, Faultline, Windsor Review, Packingtown Review and Tar River Poetry, among others. His first collection of poems entitled JUICE has been published by Regal House Publishing. Read about him on his website at https://www.charlesspringer.com. He writes from Pennsylvania.
Love Sonnet Written on Learning That the President Has Been Hospitalized
What a fine day for schadenfreude, my dear!
I’ve no intent to offer thoughts or prayers:
for we, the heathens, lovers of Earth, fear
no god—aspire not to sainthood. May
we live long in love, and the nation heal—
and if the wicked suffer, what’s it to me?
Why must we their empty conscience appeal
for kindness, or give an ounce of ours? We
have a future to fight for! They won’t steal
another thought from us. I think of you,
of post-pandemic strolls, how it will feel
to be relieved of this hate. O, we knew
these would be awful years; at least we laugh,
say I love you, watch for flags at half-staff.
Confessions of Private Grief
In the yard of my childhood home
there was a mature Jasmine shrub
beneath my window. On many mornings
I would arise from my private grief
with a deep yawn and breathe in
a sweet gulp of air that would rush
like rum down my throat and into
the center of me. This is love,
atoms discovering atoms.
I recall my first experience of infirmity.
It was like a dream, all vague shapes
and things that make no sense in retrospect.
An old man hobbled toward a casket.
There was silence but for the click of his cane.
He paid his respects, then turned. A solitary diamond
dripped from his eye and shattered in the grass,
so hard and so fragile. This is death,
atoms splitting into atoms.
I have lived as free as a fragrance on the wind,
as shackled to the earth as the vine that produced it.
May I confess in a poem what is forbidden us in prose?
I want the atoms you exhale, the cells of your skin,
the platelets in your blood. To open a door and find you
as alone as we are in dying. To touch my grief to yours.
To be a single gust of sweetness howling in the dark.
Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. When not working, he enjoys reading, writing, watching documentaries, and ranting about the state of the world. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem ‘The Machinery of the State’ for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle.
jug full of city
spilt. I’ve abandoned
of patience, haven’t a care
or what’s oasis.
I bloat with hydration,
sober for the season,
for the march song repeated
till the horns
distort to moans.
Trodden bead asterisms
breed brief romance
till they go verdigris
with the street grease
at a finite hour,
like the gown back to rags.
What deal was made
and with what fairy godmother,
her billows dragging
trails of golden ants?
I raise an empty glass
to isolation, to feeling
better-than, to the war
of waste underwritten
by the sympathy
of the bourgeoisie,
to the maternal care
the drunk girl
gives to the drunker
who’s not dressed
for the weather,
in the fiberglass mist,
to the caviling rain that spares
my skin and hair,
to Lent’s plum shadow,
to money made, to the costumed
clown pastry with its Christ-child
Shrill cries fester skywards.
Remember to thank
who receives them naturally
as wolf bays, naked and cool,
as if after a bath.
Howl until you’re hollow.
I’ll whisper in the medicine,
take you to mass tomorrow,
where, since it’s Carnival,
all gluttony is forgiven,
and you can teach your body
to sleep again.
Caroline Rowe (née Zimmer) is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The Raw Art Review, Harbinger Asylum, Cathexis Northwest, and The Jabberwock Review, where she was nominated for the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize. She has also been anthologized in The Maple Leaf Rag (Portals Press). Her debut chapbook, God’s Favorite Redhead, is forthcoming from Lucky Bean Press. She is a lifelong resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans.
the apple’s green and glazed skin
something is taking place
hunched in darkness, an ache
for a rebirth of wonder.
The five unmistakable marks
little brown seeds
give birth to a single idea—
The star-apple kingdom
lies waiting inside it to be born.
Cento Sources: Linda Hogan, Saul Touster, Robert Duncan, Alice B. Fogel, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lewis Carroll, Anonymous, Jorie Graham, D. H. Lawrence, Derek Walcott, Li-Young Lee
A bite into a ripe Mariposa,
her blue bodice split at the bulging seams,
explodes like a hot stone
in my mouth.
Just one seed
in my two hands.
Cento Sources: Charles Atkinson, Paisley Rekdal, Louise Erdrich, Mymai Yuan, Jill Bialosky, John Fuller, Lenelle Moise, Carolyn Forché
Patrice Boyer Claeys
Patrice Boyer Claeys is the author of two poetry collections: The Machinery of Grace (2020) and Lovely Daughter of the Shattering (2019). Recent work appears or is forthcoming in *82 Review, little somethings press, Relief, Zone 3, Glassworks Magazine, Inflectionist Review, Pirene’s Fountain and Aeolian Harp Anthology 5. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. Patrice lives in Chicago and can be found online at www.patriceboyerclaeys.com.
—said by a Wuhan nurse survivor
What we don’t know and what we don’t need:
Is it better to shut down the economy or not;
Is it better to catch a little dose from a crowd
Or suffer alone with your head unbowed;
Does an old drug work or is it just a rumor;
Does the viral dose count or the time of exposure;
Does wearing a mask make things better or worse;
Is it better to give hope or suffer a curse;
Is immunity a careless fib or a malignant lie;
Is disunity more dangerous than viral disease;
Is a shortage of adult behavior just an evil seed;
Are our children really safe playing close to the edge;
What good does hate do in stirring the danger?
So much we don’t know amid much we won’t use.
Michael Salcman, poet, physician and art historian, was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. Poems appear in Arts & Letters, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Poet Lore and Solstice. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises, 2007), The Enemy of Good is Better (Orchises, 2011), Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing (Persea Books, 2015), and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. Shades & Graces (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020), is the inaugural winner of the Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize.
Ten inches of snow accumulate
with low temperatures like
some Arctic escapade the night
before Ken is scheduled to have
his catheter removed.
The flight of the dutiful son
who had arranged to accompany
him has been cancelled due to
the snowstorm so Neil is stuck
at home in Texas, and there are
no Australian relatives in Chicago
to drive Ken to his appointment
carrying his urine drainage bag.
Then a deus ex machina
from the seventeenth floor
of our apartment building:
the nice Irish guy e-mails,
If I can do anything to help
after the operation…
Ken is at the curb at nine
the next morning as his neighbor
suggests, to drive together
the few blocks from Lake Shore
Drive to Northwestern Hospital
where the snow has been removed
for personnel as well as for patients
who are scheduled to have
their catheters removed.
Jan’s three chapbooks and first full-length poetry book, I Wanted To Dance With My Father, were published by Finishing Line Press. Besides the books, Jan has had 325 poems published or accepted in journals in the U.S., Australia, UK, Canada, Czech Republic, India and Ireland in journals like; Atlanta Review, Chiron, Main Street Rag, and Phoebe. Her poem, “Not Sharing at Yoshu” has just been nominated for the Pushcart by Orbis, Great Britain, 2020. Jan and her husband travel a lot but like to cook for friends when they are home in Chicago.