Friday, January 19, 2018

Poems I Admire #47

The Meatball
Richard L. Gegick

Where do butchers go to dance?
A popsicle stick punchline.

If I love my father, and I think I do,
it’s because he is a butcher,
knows what a butcher does.

They get loaded on Budweiser,
play air guitar to the Allman Brothers,
curse at local news stories, their wives,
their children,

always have a quick hundred stashed
for when those children, now adults,
are hurting for cash,
and they give it with creviced hands,
silently cry because they wish it was more,
wish it always had been.

Every month of the year is January
in a windowless meat locker.
They wear wool sweaters through heat waves,
shit blood for days before seeing a doctor,
cure the morning shakes with beer
stashed under their car seats.

One thing they do not do
is fucking dance. 

First appeared in Chiron Review

Friday, January 12, 2018

On Fishing All Alone

Ready to cast into the flat glass, he sees his face blur
with the wind, spindly as frozen drops dangling
from branches whose pointed tips hide the bruises.

Shreds of frigid thought, horizons of fits and starts, legends
grown tall as giants sleep within the winter-white quiet.
The sun is ailing and darkness looms a waltz

as stony as a chiseled jaw. Tiny beads of wave rock
the shore, red-cheeked and blind to this cover of cold
and wet and soak. His footprints lead him back through

too much green beneath damp to the dancing warmth
of flame and sound and lying sprawled along his couch
where he can see the face that saves him.

A different day now. A different man. Casting shadows
over his being all alone and unaware of it. Everything
is a blur to him. Everything is a mirror he cannot hold.

There is cold and damp and an old way of remembering
how he used to search for something to lust over, to need
more than these foggy breaths prolonging his knowing

only from there to here but never from here to there.
He spends all his imagination on gravestones, gray ones,
flat in the soggy yellow sedge of neglect upon loss.

There is a glass to his gaze that no one sees and a waltz
that looms inside the way he crawls slowly into the long
ball of cobweb begging for his presence in the corner.

Included in my chapbook "The Allness of Everything" (Maverick Duck Press)
(To learn more about "The Allness of Everything," click here.)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Galleywinter #1 - Penelope Scambly Schott

His Boots

Everett’s hard-used work boots
still stand side by side
tucked behind his TV tray
next to his big leather chair.

The boots face into the room
where Betty sits on the couch,
dinner plate on her TV tray.
She isn’t eating.

She slides the tines of her fork
under the pork and beans,
then lays the fork handle
over the rim of her plate.

My daughter took his socks
and put them in the wash.
Frayed tips of the laces
drape onto the rug.

Don’t you see him? asks Betty.
I can see him
standing there in his boots.
Dirt on his boots like the grave.

Penelope Scambly Schott’s two new books are Bailing the River, a collection about what can and can’t be done, and Serpent Love: A Mother-Daughter Epic, poems about a difficult period in her relationship with her adult daughter and the daughter’s essay in response. Penelope lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon where she teaches an annual poetry workshop.

Friday, December 29, 2017

On Spooning

we lie together back to front
               (yours to mine)

your head rests on my right arm
               outstretched as an innuendo

my left arm curls around you
               and the hand of it enjoys the softness
                              of your breasts/the firming of their nipples
                                        to the graze of my wedding ring

you sneak cold toes between my calves
               where I warm them for you

my lips tuck tightly
               within the warmth of your neck

something happens inside my chest
               a sweet seep
                              clear as honey tea/light as light

pure as the way you turn
               kiss me/feel me feel
                              the graze of your ring

First appeared in Cultural Weekly

Friday, December 22, 2017

Poems I Admire #46

Something Salvaged

for Kirstin

The pale underbelly
of marriage, think
trout, all those tiny, disco ball
scales although we flip the fish,
handle it as something
to gut, the knife’s capable
edge and the initial thread
of blood like a zippered seam.

Inside, the accordioned entrails
I scoop up. I can barely look
at you as I handle them. Shame
intricately knotted as any fly hook.
You have long, tapered fingers.
Exact, curious; you look without
flinching, and wrap all those innards
neatly in newspaper. There’s more

there, hidden deep, when I unwrap
the newsprint days later – a moon
colored marble, a large red rubber
band, and deep inside, just like
that story, as hazy and undefined
as the childhood it was told in,
a ring, a wedding band. The story

hinged on that golden ring, but I can’t
for the life of me remember how.
Surely it was enchanting, far reaching
in the way that love was conjured
or saved or explained, imaginatively enough
to leave a thumb print on my child’s mind
but I know, now, in my gut, love is a dirty
business, often something salvaged

and this makes it no less exquisite.
How to explain love when I am often
so unworthy of it? A choice and not
a choice. The white belly, yes, yes,
but those scales, so minute and soft
that the fish feels covered in flesh, human
and not, so I turn it, this way and that,
the light quivering like water, prismed
on the wall and calling up the before – 
the fish whole and swimming.

First appeared in Emerge Literary Journal

Barbara Lawhorn is an Assistant Professor at Western Illinois University. She's into literacy activism, walking Banjo (the best dog in the history of the universe), running, baking and eating bread, and finding the wild places, within and outside. Her most recent work can be found at The Longleaf Pine, BLYNKT, Nebo: A Literary Magazine, and Naugatuck River Review. Her favorite creative endeavors are her kids, Annaleigh and Jack.

Friday, December 15, 2017

I should have brought a bottle

of something Canadian and amber
for you to sip neatly as my hands
spent time getting to know you better.

I should have soothed fragrant oil
from the tropics deeply into your skin
and then lingered upon your softest center,

let my tongue taste your anticipation,
listened for the panting of your lust
and whispered for you to ask me please.

But we were both so ready.

First appeared in Cultural Weekly

Friday, December 8, 2017

Poems I Admire #45

Step Lively

I’ve let night limberjack
me again. Floors swept,
counters bleached, porcelain
scrubbed down like bone,
arms & legs keeping time
with clockhammer rain.

Fifty years old,
& too many friends
already in metal or wood.
Butcher block, casket.
Mixing bowl, urn. Close
the eye & the hand
can’t tell. Repeat.

Doug painted two sides
of his head across
his garage. Ann collaged
words on morphine.
Forms done & undone
by negative space.
The mind wants its fill.

Outside, May takes
wet shape. The jackknife
moon glints. Trees cast down
branches. The creek strips its bank.
Petals glisten, some drown.

First appeared in San Pedro River Review

Robert Lee Kendrick grew up in Illinois and Iowa, but now calls South Carolina home. After earning his M.A. from Illinois State University and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, he held a number of jobs, ranging from house painter to pizza driver to grocery store worker to line cook. He now lives in Clemson with his wife, and their dog. His poems appear in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, Louisiana Literature, The Cape Rock, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Winter Skin, was published in 2016 by Main Street Rag Publishing. His first full collection, What Once Burst With Brilliance, is forthcoming from Iris Press in 2018.

Friday, December 1, 2017

After Paris

They enter like rabbits into a snare 
of plexiglass where conviction hovers 
as cartoonish as a rain cloud soaking 
them into a frigid shiver that shakes 
salt and pepper into their whiskered chins. 

Theirs is a pain that comes and goes 
and floats like a yogi. It preoccupies 
their minds and covers our steel-toed 
boots with doubts about progress 
as we flee loudly south to a place 
I’ve never been before.

I used to know exactly 
who frightened me, until now. 
I always felt I was at their expense 
and friendship sounded nice. Indented, 
fleshy as the knots on my thick heavy head,

they tumbled down the roof into the neighbor’s 
yard long enough to awaken me into something 
akin to kinship, something that would take a hundred 
years to fully melt away, something that seems 
so slow in going.

Included in my chapbook "The Allness of Everything" (Maverick Duck Press)
(To learn more about "The Allness of Everything," click here.)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Poems I Admire #44

Memorizing Darkness

They remembered how she lay all day
Facedown on the bed after the sheriff’s knock
And then arose to reset the clock of her life.
Could she ever forget? Of course not.
Retold, the mind paints a scene
Even more vivid. How the cattle guard
Traps the wagon, the gunshots ringing
And there he is running and firing
His dark eyes wide as when they made love.

Memory: the stone door that locks on
An image forever, a bloodstain that can’t
Be scrubbed. The lies we’re told: how home is where
When you go there, they have to take you in.
Or that you can’t go home. As if anything
Will ever be the same. As if a stall means safety.
Ghost horses screaming in the flames.

First appeared in THAT Literary Review

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, Gargoyle, Pinyon, Little Patuxent Review, Spillway, Midwestern Gothic and others. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 20 books including "Selected Poems” from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and “Ribcage” from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Three of her poems have been featured on Verse Daily and another is among the winners of the 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. Her newest books are “Carnival” from FutureCycle Press and “The Seven Heavenly Virtues” from Kelsay Books. Her next book “Her Heartsongs" will be published by Presa Press in 2018. Colby is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review. Website: Facebook: Joan Colby. Twitter: poetjm.

Friday, November 17, 2017


One was a ball-buster; a lusty see-through blouse
firmly nippled and slightly off-white, knotted
just above her pierced tan midriff exposed so low
it might have been hard to see the way her red skirt
led straight to the flesh of her thighs – except they
were her thighs, and she was a goddess.

The other was a head full of wit and the wry, dry
vocabulary of one dismissive glance after another;
a reading-glasses-on-a-chain-wearing emasculation
who kept a black and well-oiled Saturday night special
tucked in the way down deep of her soft leather handbag,
stripped from the hides of every man she’d ever tanned.

They were two ends of the very same sisterhood,
a spectral pretending that day after day neither one
cared that she knew everything there was to know
about living all alone.

First appeared in Chiron Review - Issue 108