The policeman stands
in our kitchen, shifting
from one leg to another.
Forensics are on their way,
he apologizes, knowing
he is a large man in a small room.
He refuses a chair, refuses
coffee, a slice of cake left over
from the week before. He is sorry
he says for my loss, sorry
he is on duty this fine Saturday.
Another policeman arrives, also
sorry for our loss, although she
is still here, lying in the bed,
the morphine slowly dripping
through the tube because we
did not turn it off. And
a statement must be made
in the silence of that morning
and I supply the words although
he will write them down. What
she died of does not matter
now. This is not a story.
This is what happened.
Joanna Chen is a poet and literary translator. Her poems, essays and translations have appeared in Poet Lore, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Cactus Heart, and The Bakery, among others. She recently appeared on Transatlantic Poetry and is guest poetry editor of The Ilanot Review. www.joannachen.com
She lies fully clothed on the floor
with her hair radiating outward
not in wind-blown chaos
but attention-to-detail exactitude
with one ringlet tickling her arm
in precarious balance
of staying or falling
as breath threatens strands
to cascade like felled trees
gasps cannot re-position.
Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life or nature or an overheard phrase and to write from her perspective at the moment. Many nights she falls asleep juggling images to fit into a poem. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Illya’s Honey, River Poets Journal and other literary magazines.
Locked out of childhood, his spirit walks
A field of bare dirt—no trees, no grass,
Not even the harvest’s leftover stalks—
A field where nothing comes to pass,
That long abnormal rains make muddy,
A tract the local wildlife shuns,
Where nothing is ever laid to rest
A place by which no known road runs,
No star in the east and in the west
Grey sundowns that once were ruddy.
Jene Erick Beardsley was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from the University of Illinois with an MA in English Literature, and taught poetry at a small college in the Philadelphia suburbs for over thirty-five years. His poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Amherst Review, Sojourners, Fulcrum, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Green Mountains Review, Lullwater Review, South Carolina Review, Ibbetson Street Press, New Ohio Review, California Quarterly, Tribeca Review, New Letters, and many others. beardsley.wordpress.com
Man at the door says he’s from the National Humanities Office, to tell me about the new setaside program.
“I don’t know what that is,” I say.
“It’s a simple concept,” the man says. “Instead of writing all day every day, you agree to not write for a while.”
“Why is that a good idea? Why would the government get into that?”
“Oh, it’s a sound practice in many ways,” he assures me. “First, it means there is less poetry in the aggregate. Gives demand a chance to catch up to supply.”
“Okay, I can see that. What else?”
“Well, it’s good for you. You don’t burn out your audience so fast. Lets newcomers get into the game a bit.”
“I guess I can agree to that. But what about me, personally? How do I benefit, besides the monthly checks?”
“Mister Finley, that’s the best part. You get to rest your brain. Your creativity gets a chance to renew itself. Just think how good you’ll be after a few months.”
“Yes, yes, I’m thinking about this. One last thing — you’re not just telling this to me, are you? Every writer is being offered the opportunity?”
The man’s eyes widen. “Absolutely, sir. We’re telling everyone.”
“Who have you told so far?”
“Well, so far, just you.”
Mike Finley is a Pushcart winner and author over 200 books and 100 provocative videos. He grew up in the Ohio towns of Amherst and Vermilion, on Lake Erie. In 2010, Mike was awarded the The Kerouac Award, a lifetime achievement honor. In his spare time Mike edits LIEF Magazine. (mikefinleywriter.com)
As we keep eating
All kinds of GMOs, drinking
All kinds of formulas, inhaling
All kinds of pollutants, taking
All kinds of chemical compounds
We are changing, developing ourselves
Into a brand new species
A new generation
Although we still remain
In this ridiculous human shape
Although we are
No longer nature-developed
But self-made scientific man
Changming Yuan is an 8-time Pushcart nominee who grew up in a remote village, began to learn English at the age of 19, and published several monographs before leaving China. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently tutors and co-edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Since mid-2005, Yuan’s poetry has appeared in nearly 900 literary journals and anthologies across 30 countries, including Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, and Threepenny Review.
The first time I saw my father naked
I was sitting on his bed with my coat still on,
having just walked in from the snow,
and through the lobby of aquariums
filled with face-sized fish, blue
and two to a tank.
My eyes dropped
to his un-belted trousers
straggling at his feet.
Two nurses were holding him out to me
as if he were an offering.
It was this
I had wondered about
my whole life.
It was hideous, beautiful,
shuffling to the diapered bed.
And for the first time,
as he came toward me
I stood up and away from him,
my handbag in hand.
Maureen Daniels grew up in England and San Jose, California. She has a B.A. from CUNY Hunter College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from CUNY City College. She is the winner of The Doris Lipmann Prize, The Stark Short Fiction Award, The Audre Lorde Award, and was a runner up for the Astraea Emerging Writers Award. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as Lambda Literary, Global City Review, Nibble, Scapegoat Review, and others. She currently lives in New York City.
She saved for last the trunk he brought from Okinawa.
She had been putting off picking through
His most personal stuff.
Among his discharge papers,
A stack of letters from her tied with twine,
And a photo of their son in a soap box race car,
She found a round candy tin;
“Zombies, A Delicious Coconut Confection
Flavored with Fine Imported Rum.”
The faded lid showed a lagoon,
Huts with straw roofs,
A black man with a blue shirt sitting on the root of a palm,
A black woman standing with a basket on her head
As in a cheesy Gauguin.
Rusted from the moisture of basements,
She managed to pry it open and found no sweets,
But a hand-written note folded to fit;
“July 15, 1963.
I saw this and thought of you.
The island paradise we talked about?
His life was a secret,
She knows now,
Conducted on trips to corporate headquarters
And deadlines at the plant.
Her life was wishful thinking,
Like the scent of a wildflower
Caught in the damp woods
In a January thaw
That you can never find
Because it isn’t there.
Scott Thomas‘ background includes a B.A. in Creative Writing/Literature from Bard College, a M.S. in Library Science from Columbia University, and a M.A. in English from the University of Scranton. He has work published or forthcoming in Mankato Poetry Review, The Kentucky Poetry Review, Sulphur River Literary Review, Webster Review, Poetry East, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Poem, Philadelphia Stories, Poetry Bay, Floyd County Moonshine, Talking River, Willard & Maple, and Pointed Circle. (facebook.com/scott.thomas.1675275)