Friday, March 16, 2018

Poems I Admire #49

The Roofers
Mather Schneider

She always wanted me
to get the roof fixed.
It leaked for years.

They came today
got right to work, I had to love that sense
of purpose.
I watched them for a while then felt like a fool
and came inside,
listened to the boots walking
all over my world,
the house shaking like a war
for hours,
me down here in my bunker
dust falling from the ceiling
and them up there
in the open
balanced like little G.I. Joe dolls
on the edge of a bathtub
filled with hot tar, the hot tar

they mopped onto the surface
like heaven under
a black light
the stink of it, the nasty stink of it.

By late afternoon it quieted down.
I heard them laughing, and one guy
sweeping up my patio
like he owned the place, like some filthy
shopkeeper, whistling
a child’s tune

and when they drove their huge truck away
they didn’t even say goodbye.

I came outside
leaned my ladder against the house
and climbed up,
peeking my head up like a survivor
looking onto a quiet sunset
over a battlefield
and I thought,
it looks pretty good, but what
do I know

and I thought, a 4 followed
by 3 zeros

and I thought,
she still isn’t coming back

and I thought
now it will probably never fucking rain

First appeared in Rattle

Mather Schneider was a cab driver in Tucson for many years and is currently living in Hermosillo, Mexico. His poetry and prose have been published in the small press since 1994. He has 4 full length books available.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Whatever Else

Behind the peppermint-spattered alley
mustachioed men, sweating and drinking,
wait for the stiff hand of brown leather
to reach into their well-worn anticipation.

Smiles float into the foamy gulf and sink
like stones unimpressed by grandmothers
staring at a white kind of wealth as rich
as flapping wads of cash wafting the stench
of unspoken lust over rattlesnake tongue.

Everything bought and paid for bites through
lower lips and boot-walks an arid sophistication
that isn’t anybody’s finest hour. It’s all shouting
without words and shuffling little foxes back
to their straight-backed chairs.

It’s licking lips, throwing elbows, tossing trinkets
that lose their way, and men with know-how dancing
all night long, reveling in the picking and the choosing,
the pretending to be nice – but this isn’t about being nice.

This is about corn stalks and dust, irrigation ditches
and forgetfulness, dancing and spending and never
getting married. This place is crowded with nothing
but resignation and whatever else there is to do.

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

Friday, March 2, 2018

Galleywinter #3 - Penelope Scambly Schott

Rhino Horns
       – for Eric

Your father a doctor, mother a nurse,
and you somehow neglected—when
did uncured infection warp your big toes,
deform your nails to rhinoceros horns?

Every night when you press your body
close against mine, I feel love stab,
and I want to kiss your damaged feet
as if a kiss could mend your whole past.

You, the reticent first of too many kids
born too close together and too insistent,
clever boy assembling kits to rocket away,
reluctant soldier in unforgiving army boots,

love me, stab me, scratch my bare skin,
carve your name in blood on my shins.

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, February 23, 2018

My Lick

for harmonica

You suck on 4
and bend it like a hickory switch
until just before your chewing gum
loses all its flavor.

Now slide down to 3
for a draw and a blow,
but make it quick –
if you take time for a lap dance,
you’re taking too long,
you have to get to 2 to breathe
life into a wicked little blue note
who lives way out in the back woods
where they still have stills and steady customers.

Bounce back up to 4,
draw the bowstring again
and take careful aim
before sending it away by tugging
on 5 and filling the air
with the sound of hopeless mothers
whose sons play all kinds of blues
in all kinds of bars.

Finish it off with a 5 blow
that lingers as you glide
back to 4 and then pull.
That last combination, the 5 draw/blow
that slips like a December drunk
into a 4 blow/draw
is so damned fundamental
you just got to wallow
in all that sad over and over again.

Now, step back, slide your harp
into your front shirt pocket like it thinks
it lives there, look over at Froggy, a man
who knows how to tongue a thing or two,
and hope to see that sneaky grin inside
his salt-and-pepper beard, the one that lets you know
he’s been up to something in the back of his mind
where memories live.

First appeared in Coe Review

Friday, February 16, 2018

Poems I Admire #48

Cells Divide and Are Forever Separate 
Tamara Madison

Just when we finally draw near
it is there between us like a membrane,
a silk screen, a heavy drape.

Sometimes I think I can really see you
but then the gauze covers your gaze
and you’ve slipped away.

Sometimes it seems I can really touch you,
but our separateness enfolds us
like a swallowing fog.

I settle for those times when we can just
hold each other, your warm being next to mine
and I honor an illusion of oneness

as we stand together in the kitchen,
arms around each other, holding close
with May outside, the night air gravid

with jasmine and only the thinnest gauze
of cloud to separate us from the moon
swelling golden above the pines.

First appeared in Chiron Review

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook "The Belly Remembers" as well as two full-length volumes of poetry, "Wild Domestic" and "Moraine" (in which this poem appears), all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in the U.S. and abroad, including Pearl, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Linnets Wings, The Writer's Almanac and others. She is thrilled to have recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Our Hero

Cooped up like a river frozen closed and inhaling frigid pins of salt,
our hero takes root on W. 11th before starting his breakout path

of slowly turning up the catalytic heat that burns a miracle: ginning
sympathy from the soft alchemy of insufficient hopes and understanding

that it all adds up somehow. He was never really a mixed up thing
needing rearranging like a flock of geese pretending to know the way

across his thin skin stained against reason. Around his neck a bow tie
droops and intertwines with the yellow hair of a summer so soft

he can barely remember how it growled from way down deep.
All that remains of what came before is the leaping, the single bounds,

the speeding locomotives he imagines whizzing by on his way to school
for not anyone’s very last time, not really.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Galleywinter #2 - Penelope Scambly Schott

How beautiful were my feet with shoes…

When I used to run, my shoes
believed they were part of my feet– 

they crouched and waited 
like a golden retriever staring at me,

trying so hard to be patient– 
look how good – as I pulled on socks.

I shut the door, and bird song
descended the cool trunks of trees.

When I sped up, clouds
rushed faster over my thin shadow

until it vanished. I ran on
into the sunlight, my arms like shafts

pistoning forward, turning 
train wheels, but my smooth track

was just the dirt mule path 
beside the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

There were no more barges to tow
and the mules had been dead for years,

but I was young then, and my hips
swung loosely as if from golden ropes.

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, January 26, 2018

A Lesser Imagination

He imagines a lesser imagination,
finding peace in sitting still, closing
his eyes, seeing sunshine inside blue

as white glides over a little green waft
sailing slowly out of imagination’s view.
He imagines a lesser imagination no longer

dreading all-day dreams, the way she curves
around his mind, the way they love
until nothing remains between them

but the naked reality of knowing that a lesser
imagination could never imagine away memory
and how memory always imagines more.

First appeared in IthacaLit

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.)