Saturday, May 27, 2017

Twelve Lines Running Across Our Bed

It’s a gray-laced tennis shoe leaning on its mate
or blinding beams of sunrise when walking at dawn.
Sometimes it’s the once red fade of thin lips gone blue.

Stare at it. Watch it become God on Judgment Day,
Satan taking names at baby’s First Communion.
Squint now for focus. See it blur into concrete

gray as the hair beneath a dye so black it’s blue.
You wash its ashen feet with tears and perfumed oil.
Its room fills with bric-a-brac and the aroma

of your forever-and-ever-ago: cut grass, warm bread,
pancakes-and-bacon-and-hot-coffee mornings,
Brylcreem and aftershave, sheets needing cleansed.


First appeared in Literary Orphans - May 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Poems I Admire #33

The Family Waits
Rich Youmans

They hear his muffler first
– pop-pop-pop-pop-pop –
faint through the screen door
that he’ll walk through in a minute,
then louder as his Plymouth
turns the corner. They picture him
passing the Merkel twins in
the fire hydrant’s gush,
passing Mrs. Lee out on her stoop
with her glass of “iced tea,”
passing Bobby Mac as he paces
up and down the sidewalk,
talking to his shadow
and avoiding the cracks.
Louder and louder that rapid fire grows
– pop-Pop-Pop-POP-POP – until it
stops.

Then the driver’s door creaks open,
and the air shifts to give him room.

They can tell, it’s a bad day.
He doesn’t shower first to wash off
the stink of sweat and tar,
to quench his muscles’ burning flares.
Instead, he marches straight to
the kitchen table, his eyes fixed hard
on its scarred maple top.
He sits down at the table’s head,
waits for his sons to take their seats,
for their now-quiet mother to lay out the meal,
the plates and platters not quite full.

When she sits, he folds his hands,
each knuckle popping like a white flag,
and begins – O Lord –
his voice low, his head bowed,
his fingers locked tight
as if strangling something,
or holding on for dear life.


First appeared in Naugatuck River Review

In addition to writing narrative poetry, Rich Youmans enjoys exploring the Japanese forms of haiku and haibun; a forthcoming collection of haibun, All the Windows Lit, was a 2015 Snapshot Press eChapbook Award winner. He and his wife, Belle, live on Cape Cod.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sudden as Adultery

In the place where tumbleweeds
roll along nothing but humiliation
and scads of blisters gone scab,
everyone can see what everyone
already knows: the wind wrongs
scorched evenings into a used up
tan of desperation so hot our red
sweat dries before it falls. Spittled
curses, all the anger we can find,
a few dry yellow plants, and spite
fill the only space remaining in us,
a space of shade and conversation
raging hot against the unusual still,
where floodwater flowers bloom
then die as suddenly as adultery,
bright, a passion never fully shared
and strangely sweet between sheets
balled into fists. What comes next?
Secret pleadings for a soft explanation,
an ever-sting at the center of our core,
and the aching understanding of this:
everything lives to be gone for good.


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

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

Poems I Admire #32

Early Sorrow
Liz Dolan

After the three sisters had waited nine months
for the baby who was born dead,
they fretted about her being buried alone.

So they placed next to her
their almost-favorite stuffed animals,
the toucan by her plump cheeks
and the kookaburra by her elbow.

In her hands, they put the board book
Good Night Gorilla, in which the gorilla-hero steals
the keys from the zookeeper’s belt,
and frees the elephant, lion and giraffe.
The sisters knew she would laugh
when the animals followed the keeper to his house,
and the gorilla slept in his bed.
Plus she would learn about locks and keys.

And when Grandma died seven days later,
they knew she would read the book to the baby
and blow on her belly and sing
Toora, Loora, Loora.
                                     These are the things
the three sisters did and told us,
the grownups who did nothing, but sit
like stones in our chairs, staring.


First appeared in Naugatuck River Review


Liz Dolan’s poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize, Ashland University, has been published by Cave Moon Press. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street Press. Liz has won the following prizes: The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011, and the same prize for fiction, 2015; The Cobalt Review’s Baseball Poetry Prize, 2014; Delaware Beach Life’s First Place Poetry Prize, 2012, and Trellis Magazine’s First Place in Poetry, 2008; The Gypsy Satchet Award in Letters from Fiction Fix 16. She has also received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Martha’s Vineyard Writers’ Residency. Liz serves on the poetry board of Philadelphia Stories. She is most grateful for her ten grandchildren who pepper her life and who live on the next block.