Friday, October 19, 2018

Love Begins with a Metaphor

The dining room chairs
used every holiday and when the will
needs going over.

A dusty fish tank yearning
for wet and bubbles and the scaly
hierarchy of a manufactured habitat.

A yellow balloon resting
in a basketball net, heavy enough
to get stuck in the middle,

too light for falling all the way through.
A toddler reading pictures in a book, laughing
with the exaggerated applause of his parents.

A stack of wooden blocks
waiting for one too many and the slow lean
of just before tumbling.

The cat curled up in a blanket
beneath a sunny window
sleeping with one eye open.

Full of Crow Poetry - October 2012

Friday, October 12, 2018

What We Know

The seventeen years between us,
that we have not let come between us,
mean I am going to die first. 

I will abandon you, cheat you
of the groaning laughter in mutual aches,
the wrinkled telepathy
forged through a many-decades tangle
of conflict and conversation. 

Whether the years after my death click away
like the tumble of falling dominoes
or crumble with a slow dignity
like the white ruins of ancient grace,
we know you will be left alone. 

In the children of our children,
that you will know so much better than I –
if I get to know them at all –
I hope you will see a little of me 

in their devotion to soft walks
on cold evenings in the valley,
holding your hand and enjoying the lingering
of their gray breath as it slides into twilight. 

If they laugh too easily and too loudly,
let your head wag behind your smirk
as you cradle yourself in their roar –
the way you do now, whenever I bellow
in amused appreciation of this or that little thing. 

Take them to Waterloo Park each summer
and help them find flat stones
for skipping across the shallow Santiam.
Splash with them ankle deep the way we did
right before we kissed for the very first time. 

Pack them into the car and race the sunset
so they will know what we have come to know –
the sun descends behind Mary’s Peak each night
and, sometimes, sprays red across the sky.

First appeared  in Toe Good Poetry - November 3, 2011

Friday, October 5, 2018

Galleywinter #10 - Robert Lee Kendrick

Eastatoe Canticle 

Steam tendrils rise from cracked asphalt, 
weave white curtains through sunset- 

slashed air, as rain-glazed clay releases 
long breaths. Bull black, thunderclouds 

lumber west, butt their blunt heads 
on the Blue Ridge. Limb fragments

garland blacktop and ground. Full summer 
green, severed vines glisten in shadows, 

offer their veins to dirt, the hillside 
one hum of moisture and heat. 

A buzzard floats down to pavement, 
tears a squirrel's storm-sweetened flesh. 

Rose streaks the sky's blue contusion. 
Unmasked, first stars grit their teeth.

Robert Lee Kendrick lives in Clemson, SC. He has previously published, or has work forthcoming, in Birmingham Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, Louisiana Literature, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Winter Skin, was released in 2016 by Main Street Rag Publishing. His full-length collection, What Once Burst With Brilliance, was released in 2018 by Iris Press.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Death by Chrysalis

Not everything that dies becomes a moldering rot
like the sticky black ooze of the weeds of ancient seas.

Take that wooly mammoth, for instance, found in a block
of ice on the edge of the middle of some frozen nowhere,
flowers half-chewed in its mouth. What luck to be unlucky
in such a way – in a cold flash just after a little dinner-salad –
so that, all these centuries later, heads wag in disbelief
and grunt smirks at the shaggy once was of him.

And what of the death by chrysalis of the caterpillar –
a voracious, needy, earthy thing that dies from cramp
and forced revision only to be resurrected with two thin
surprises connected lightly to the same center of it all?

First appeared in Pirene's Fountain - Fall/Winter 2011

Friday, September 7, 2018

Galleywinter #9 - Ricki Mandeville

As Though This Could Save You

There must be forest. It must be autumn
and after midnight and you must be alone.

The trees should stand close together,
as though whispering to one another about you.

Behind the trees there must be a pocked
bone-white face of moon and, against it,

branches that rattle in the wind. 
The wind must wail like a disconsolate child.

You must put yourself at risk: the trunks
must be thick enough to hide a man and tall enough

to filter the moonlight to opaque shadows
that cancel any notion of safety.

There can be no horizon—the glow of the city 
where you lived invisible far behind you

the darkness so deep you scarcely remember 
the lamplight by your bed, darkness that flaunts

every shade of black: charred trunks, leaves like coal 
at your feet, the faint ebony silhouette of your hand.

You walk in circles but cannot see when you pass
the same spot again. You have no idea how to get out.

Ricki Mandeville is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has had poetry published in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Gravel, Penumbra, Hartskill Review, Front Porch Review, Texas Poetry Calendar and other publications. She lives and writes near the ocean in Huntington Beach, CA. She is the author of A Thin Strand of Lights and two chapbooks.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Middle School Sway

We dance
a very adult
middle school sway
in the shower, gently
rocking this way then that
way, body pressed firmly into
body, eagerly kissing, eagerly caressing,
determined to make urgent use of this most
unexpected opportunity for steam and sweat,
chance for primal reminder of our love that made our

First appeared in the Gold Man Review - 2012

Friday, August 24, 2018

On Losing the 2018 Concrete Wolf Louis Award*

At least I was an Honorable Mention –
right behind the winner, first and second
runners up, five finalists, and the thirteen
semi-finalists who beat out me and the other
nine HMs. Guess I need a narrower field,
maybe one just for overweight silverbacks
with male pattern baldness overwhelmed
by regret and knowing exactly how fast
the speed of light burns.

*Awarded to a poetry collection written by a poet over fifty years old who has not published a full-length collection.

First appeared in San Pedro River Review - Fall 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018

Poems I Admire #54

Kathleen Lynch

When our mother yelled Stop that or I’ll box
your ears! I thought she meant chop them off
and put them in a Roi Tan cigar box.

A few years later, a local State Fair side-
show magician sawed a pretty older girl right
through the middle. We screamed, yet she

danced back to us, all smiles and sequins, her
breasts bouncing the way I hoped mine would
someday – a transformation I prayed for daily.

When mom wrung her hands over her many
& various worries, whispering I’m simply beside myself,
I tried to picture that diaphanous other version

of our mother – not a ghost, but not all there like
a real body – a mystery vapor-vision that mimicked
her hand-wringing, pacing – always beside her.

Years later, when I knew something more
about metaphor, she told me You’ve lost your head
when I married him and brought him home.

Fast forward to a woman, me, in my bed decades
later, now master of my own arts of appearance
and disappearance, and my cold acquaintance

with how close one can come to death and not die.
He sleeps, never sees my subterfuge when I grab my
head by its sturdy helmet skull, give it a good

crank to the right, lift it and set it on the nightstand.
“Head” is my night watchwoman, observant crone.
She stays alert, enjoys the way moonlight limns

our bodies – his, forty-two years later, still lean, sinewy
bent to my shape; mine, slumped, rounded, in the pose
of a person asleep but, really, quite beside herself.

2018 Pushcart 
First appeared in Tule Review

Friday, August 10, 2018

If a Tree Blah, Blah, Blah

If it drops first as a seed into the soft black humus
of its forbears, taking root, growing green and sapling
into something tall enough and wide enough to shade

a picnic between lovers but never, ever does; if the trunk
of it grows a thick brown bark that never once eases the itch
of a grizzly bear’s back; if its branches grow long, lush, and 

heavy with fuzzy leaves that one season after another season
fail to nest the wide open Vs of shivering chicks; if it awakens
every morning for coffee, bitter in the dark, before its daily trudge

through invisibility and grasping for something slightly greener than
the week after week direct deposit of imaginary numbers straight into
the strange isolation of fearing missing a phone call while singing

in the shower; if it wanes before ever being climbed; if it shrivels
into cracked fractions of what it was supposed to have become
before falling without making a sound, have I ever really lived?

First appeared in Avatar Review

Friday, August 3, 2018

Galleywinter #8 - Ricki Mandeville

You Love the Man That Winter

Over diner coffee at a scarred table, steam 
from the cups rising like wraiths between you, 
light of gray mornings 
filtered through the smudged window,
streets frozen, curbs stacked with dirty snow. 

Hair disheveled from his cap
he feeds you crumbs of his past:
his broken childhood, the stony fields,
the red scream of his back 
from his father’s belt. His mother, 
silent exile drifting through the kitchen. 
The Spartan room where he read Kerouac 
while the house slept.

Imagine. The dark hallway, cold linoleum 
beneath your feet as you creep
to the narrow bed where he lies on his side, 
and you lift the cover, slip in at his back, 
press your lips to the welts. 
The black river near his house, 
the bedroom window he climbs out at midnight, 
the owls, the rustling branches, rush of water
and you, who kiss him with wind in your mouth. 
His skin smells of earth, his breath of bread.

At home, you watch him move among your books,
your art. All winter you stare at his solemn mouth.
You know you cannot ease him; he will run.
You remember your grandmother’s caution: 
Who’s broken will break you. 
And then it is March, blue ice 
in your chest as the streets thaw. 

Ricki Mandeville is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has had poetry published in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Gravel, Penumbra, Hartskill Review, Front Porch Review, Texas Poetry Calendar and other publications. She lives and writes near the ocean in Huntington Beach, CA. She is the author of A Thin Strand of Lights and two chapbooks.