Saturday, January 28, 2017

On Depth and Salty Expectations

What is it about the coast and expectations?
Is it positive ions or the taste of salt rimming

every breath? Maybe it’s in the way waves roll
before crashing into hard soaked sand like tender

first kisses that become a hundred hungry intimacies
gasping for air and grasping for lips and the twist

of tongues before shifting their attentions to learning
where we hide our secrets and where imaginations turn

every new discovery into something blue and rhythmic
and very, very deep.

First appeared in Vayavya

Saturday, January 21, 2017

An Always Open Case

I showered once with her guitar
and learned all about progressions.

The acoustics were on my side
and the natural reverb married

with the unnatural rain redding
my back in a super hot steam

of hard wet wenge and mahogany.
I wanted to sing along but strummed

and hummed instead. Though she never said,
I think she knew, and I think that’s why

she took it away, why she kept its old
black case always open and empty.

Still, I never could confess to finding
those curves perfectly wide, perfectly narrow.

First appeared in IthacaLit

Saturday, January 14, 2017


This poem contains skin,
lots and lots of skin. The skin
this poem contains is soft; it’s tan
everywhere except there and there
and a little bit there. Please be aware
that this poem also has hands – handsy
hands that know the difference between
the need to caress and a caress that kneads.
The hands this poem contains come complete
with fingers for touching and tracing the skin –
about which you’ve already been warned. Know,
though, that these fingers are not only for touching
and tracing the aforementioned skin. No, these fingers
also explore gently, eagerly, the deep inside of a lover’s
imagination, a lover within whose breasts breathe wanton
breaths between kisses long and wet as the arousal of a lover
whose skin loves skin.

First appeared in Vayavya

Mommy Mode

I nibble and tease,
search for the switch that flips her
from the kids’ to mine.

Maybe backgammon
the way she likes to play it – 
no one tries to win.

I could do dishes
while she lingers in the tub – 
candles, steam, whiskey.

How about hearing,
eye contact and some nodding,
asking for details.

There’s always hugging
just for the holding her close –
just for the holding her close.

First appeared in Eunoia Review

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Her eyes have that one color green you hate
calling green. Emerald is better but just too too.
No, they’re green and cynical and deep

as the way the air in a forest’s morning mist
infiltrates your imagination and turns everything

into the lush fantasy of a primal, hungry, and never-
again-alone lust. They’re so green they make you doubt
the existence of memory, the memory of isolation,

and the solitude inside a natural passion that sweats
between heartbeats before leaving marks

where no one can see, so no one can bear witness
to the way they carry on without ever looking back
Thing is, I don’t think they started out that way.

First appeared in Literary Orphans - November 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Poems I Admire #28

I Know My Father
From stories only, from Mother’s mouth
on winter evenings by a single lamp.
A splendid man, a doctor,
taken while I drifted.
Smelling always of soap –
his fingers, the folds of his knuckles.
And from his framed face on the mantel,
unruly hair leaning across his forehead
as though windblown.

Can you see him? she asks, and I can,
bending over the beds of sick children,
soap scent whispering from his cuffs
as he warms with his breath
the disc of the stethoscope,
places it on small, bony chests, translates
the rattling of their lungs into ink on a page.
The crinkles at his eyes, the sky
deepening outside the hospital windows.
How he ruffles their hair, tucks their pain
into his pockets ad moves on, leaving
a bright wink shimmering at each bed,
leaving them drowsing,
taking their pale faces home.

Where he winds her in his arms
and lifts her to her toes, presses her cheek
into the faded spice of his collar
in the small kitchen where the fragrance
of rosemary lingers after dinner.
He kisses the back of her neck
as she washes dishes,
standing as close to the sink as I will allow,
I, big in her belly, tethered and drifting,
missing my father by weeks.

First appeared in San Pedro River Review

Ricki Mandeville’s poems have recently appeared in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Pea River Journal, Texas Poetry Calendar 2014, and other journals and anthologies. She is a cofounder and consulting editor of Moon Tide Press and the author of A Thin Strand of Lights (Moon Tide Press). A speaker for various literary events, she lives in Huntington Beach, California.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

She Told Me Once Her Name Is Gigi

I don’t know where she got it,
but she says it with enough ooh la la
to lead me to believe she was weaned
on strong coffee and croissant,

and, even though she’s walker-old,
she smiles during her afternoon strolls
as if remembering how easy a thing
the inspiration of breathy French exclamations
used to be. We exchange pleasantries and pass

in the opposite direction. She tells me again
how happy she is to “still be here on Planet Earth.”
I know this is her way of saying she’s glad
she hasn’t died yet and gone to heaven,

but her wording makes me wish
that Wilford Brimley and Don Ameche
would suddenly jitterbug by to whisk her away
for a dip in an alien-cocoon-steeped pool
as they await the Mother Ship and immortality.

Of course, it never happens. Another thing
that never happens is me turning around,
walking with her awhile, asking her
how she got her name.

First appeared in The Homestead Review - Fall 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

Poems I Admire #27

The Calculus
Paul Hostovsky

My hygienist likes to include me
in the decision making.
“Shall we use the hand scaler
or the ultrasonic today?” she asks me.
I like the way she says “we,”
like we’re doing something intimate
and collaborative,
like building a snowman,
or more like dismantling one
after an ice storm, flake
by frozen flake. “The calculus
is caused by precipitation
of minerals from your saliva,” she explains.
“You can’t remove it with your toothbrush.
Only a professional can do that.” She’s very
professional. She doesn’t dumb it down.
“Pay more attention to the lingual side
of your mandibular anteriors,” she says.
I love it when she talks like that.
I love the names of teeth: incisor, third molar, bicuspid,
eyetooth. Her own teeth are
virtuosic. “Calculus comes from the Greek
for stone,” she says. “In mathematics
it’s counting with stones. In medicine,
it’s the mineral buildup in the body: kidney stones,
tartar on teeth.” She teaches me all this
as I sit there with my mouth open,
looking astonished.

First appeared in Off the Coast
Paul's poems have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and Best of the Net. He has been published in Carolina Quarterly, Shenandoah, New Delta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Poetry East, The Sun, and many other journals and anthologies. He has won a Pushcart Prize, the Comstock Review's Muriel Craft Bailey Award, and chapbook contests from Grayson Books, Riverstone Press, Frank Cat Press, and Split Oak Press. He has seven full-length collections of poetry, Bending the Notes (2008), Dear Truth (2009), A Little in Love a Lot (2011), Hurt Into Beauty (2012), Naming Names (2013), Selected Poems (2014), and The Bad Guys (2015). He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter at the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

On Adam and Eve

Maybe he was a natural in the sack, or maybe
she liked her ribs tickled after dinner. Who knows,

maybe she thought it looked like a slimy sci-fi
thing full of nothing but need. When all there was

was forward and pondering barely intelligible lisps of lies,
when wrath was ice-cold and slaked like a lemonade of whys

squeezed into a thick yellow pulp, did they ever stop
to wonder how everything could have gone so wrong?

How limber, their now imperfect minds! How daintily
they could clink glasses with the polite society of their loins.

How often did he ask Can I ever be inside you and still feel
the need
for air? Did rash waiting spread into a distracted

bounce of us against them? Do we really need to mention
the possibility that she turned around and told him to leave?

Maybe all he wanted was one more try before finally giving in
to the long hard blasphemy of damnation.

First appeared in The Homestead Review - Fall 2016

Included in my chapbook "The Allness of Everything" (Maverick Duck Press)

(To learn more about "The Allness of Everything," click here.)

The Air at Avery Park on a Day like Today

tastes smooth as the sleepy brew
of yellow melting green into a steam

so sweet there is nothing left to do
but breathe and think yourself back in time

to the day your dad dropped by and promised
he’d never leave again – which he didn’t

for a sorta long time.

First appeared in The Homestead Review - Fall 2016