Thursday, July 2, 2020

Home, a poem by David J. Bauman


Home

Between the courthouse, where my brothers all
appeared in turn, and the old jail, where they were
lucky enough not to, there was Locust Alley

and Willards, where we used sticks for swords.
Un-guard!” we cried, all the way home from
a Zorro matinee at the Roxy or the Garden,

the only two theaters in town, right across
the street from each other. That block of Mary’s
Alley that ran behind our house and Aunt Cindy’s,

where the guy pulled a switchblade on me,
and I let my tricycle topple over as I ran?
It’s been turned to turf, along with all those

neighboring lots, for the baseball field
at Robb School. Our old double-block home
has been replaced by first base. Second

is where Ross, the bully, stole my Sears
banana bike and removed the training wheels.
He’s buried now in Swissdale cemetery

near my cousin Sam—two accidents,
a motorcycle and a boy’s first car.
Home plate is where Mrs. Seyler lived.

How we made her pay for all the frisbees
and balls she kept when they crossed over her
hedge. Someone told Gino’s mom who called

the cops. How we should have cheered when we
saw her crying. How the officer lowered his eyes.
How he gave you the ball, and walked away.


David J. Bauman is the author of two poetry chapbooks, most recently, Angels & Adultery, selected by Nickole Brown for the Robin Becker Series (Seven Kitchens Press, 2018). He has new poems published or forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Watershed Review, Citron Review, and Third Wednesday. His recent poetry reviews have appeared in Windhover and Whale Road Review. A resident of Pennsylania, he attended IWU in Marion where his first son was born. 


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Working Tune: a Catholicon, a poem by Bethany Brengan



Working Tune: A Catholicon

I step forward on my left foot, and my left foot says:
“Things fall apart
the center cannot hold.”
I step forward on my right foot, and my right foot says:
            “All shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.”

If the apocalypse arrives tomorrow, and the Lord lifts his few,
fortunate faithful on invisible wires; if Cinderella
makes it to the ball in a dress like the sun
and impossible slippers—
or if the apocalypse arrives tomorrow, and we are left quaking
under wars and rumors of wars; and Cinderella must sort seeds, without help
(because all the birds have died), in the blood-light of the moon—
or if tomorrow the gears of the world don’t
fall off, and the mills of the gods still grind
to their tedious gain; and we all awake
covered in the gray stars of last night’s ashes—
even then we must remember to water our mother’s grave,
tend her trees, buy the milk, bake the bread,
fill the mouths that, this morning, gape on our doorstep. Everywhere
is work to be done. Somewhere,
we might till up a promise in the soil.

And my right foot says,
            “I believe.”
And my left foot says,
            “Help my unbelief.”


Bethany Brengan’s poetry has appeared in various publications, including Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, The Hollins Critic, The 2015 Poet’s Market, The Gordon Square Review, and Claw & Blossom. She is an Indiana Wesleyan University graduate who now splits her time between the breath-taking Olympic Peninsula and the bowels of the internet. She is also a contributor to Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder: Scholars and Creators on 75 Years of Robin, Nightwing, and Batman (McFarland Publishing). She can be found at brenganedits.com and medium.com/essays-no-one-asked-for.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Summer Solstice on the West Coast of Ireland, a poem by James Green


Summer Solstice on the West Coast of Ireland

This afternoon the sun is more a rumor,
probably still high behind a stretch
of somber clouds in shades of dappled grey.
The wind is brisk and plumes of ocean spray
rise against the cliffs and sea foam drifts
all the way to the bog, settles on the stubble
of freshly cut hay and backs of sheep that face
to lee, huddled against the day marked
as the longest since the age of hoary-haired men
dressed in ragged wool capes who aligned
boulders to measure their place in creation,
who tuned their lives to follow the light
like the lilies on the bank of the estuary.
It’s why I’ve come here, a blow-in like
the neckless starlings motionless on the wire. 
Sometimes they fly to a standstill against the wind
before suddenly rising as one winged flight
into an updraft, turning with the precision
of a drill team, becoming specks then disappearing.
Yes, it’s why I’ve come here.  I come here
to be neither here nor there, to be in a place
where strange is familiar, where it is normal
on summer solstice to light a turf fire,
its fragrance taking hold of you.

James Green (Jim) has worked as a naval officer, deputy sheriff, high school English teacher, professor of education, and administrator in both public schools and universities. Recipient of two Fulbright grants, he has served as a visiting scholar at the University of Limerick in Ireland and the National Chung Cheng University in Taiwan. His academic publications include three books, as well as numerous monographs and articles in professional journals. He has published three chapbooks of poetry (Stations of the Cross and Barely Still, Barely Stirring, both with Finishing Line Press, and The Color of Prayer: Poems on Rembrandt Painting the Bible with Shanti Arts Books), and individual poems have appeared in literary magazines in England, Ireland, and the USA. He lives in Muncie, Indiana.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Unrhymed Sonnet, a poem by Andrea Lee Dunn


Unrhymed Sonnet

You march to condemn barriers, murder,
ancient contracts that cuff your liberty.
I run fencing around my garden, not
sharing peppers with squirrels, damn rabbits. Later
I add cheese to the burgers, smoke rising
off the grill. You join hands with strangers, block
cars, then choke down more tear gas, dodge bullets
while I mix up my second gin gimlet,
freshly squeezed lime juice. “Enough is enough.”

My daughter says grace, asks God to protect
all the frontline workers and protesters.
She prays please, please help with injustices.
And I go to my soul’s dark room, spotlight
on my complacent inactivity.


Andrea Lee Dunn is from Indianapolis by way of the Texas-Mexico border and North Carolina. She studied creative writing at Texas Tech University and now enjoys trying to balance a writing life with raising three children. In addition to poems previously published by Flying Island, examples of her work can be found in New Mexico Review, Southwestern American Literature, Cagibi Journal, Entropy Magazine, and the Same.



Monday, June 8, 2020

George Floyd, a poem by Jared Carter

George Floyd

Unmantled now, and broken, I
          lie naked here,
Awaiting no more enmity
          or spite, no fear

Of prejudice that would betray
          this moment. Show
My life as something to be weighed
          by those who know

What difference is, what justice seeks,
          what must be done.
Show me to those who now will speak,
          whose time has come.


Jared Carter lives in Indiana.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Photographer Considers His Mother's Gift, a poem by Roger Pfingston

The Photographer Considers His Mother’s Gift

His mother was a squatter
well into her eighties, adept
at crouching to a tight fold:
rummaging a bottom cabinet
for that now-and-then pan,
edging the grass away
from the sidewalk,
even patiently removing
the tough-minded dandelions
in the rock driveway, her stand
against Roundup and other
killers of flora and fauna.      

Genetics, of course, but also
his early years of watching her
do what comes natural…
thus his tinkering
with the underbelly of the mower
or just hunkering down because it
feels good—a meditative stretch
at the lake’s edge—and always
those butt-low shots like yesterday,  
moments after a truck pulled away
in the Kroger parking lot, oil slick
shining up at the camera’s eye—
a rainy-day puddle glazed
with a dark rainbow.

Roger Pfingston is the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards. His most recent chapbook, What’s Given, is available from Kattywompus Press. New poems are appearing this year in I-70 Review, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Dash, Passager and Front Range Review.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

O, Susanna, a poem by Susanna Childress


O, Susanna

Twelve and my breasts           begin their slow swell, moon-bright
in the seventh month of my slumber. This strange
sheen, as within the begonia’s waxy              heart, my neck
a spreading alpenglow            when, in front of the boy
from Glasgow County, Norah Clond snaps my training bra. Small discs
of turquoise hang        from my ears like fingerprints, the shape
pressed into my chest like Ms. Smoots taught us
to find lumps   grain-thick in the paddy of some
temerarious fright, that dim    scepter, womanhood. Mornings

she brushes the tops                of strawberry plants with her palms
to find the dark pebbles of fruit. After P.E.    girls fold
their bodies as a mantis      its pious limbs           into clothes that exhale
what perfume        our mothers allow.    And O for shame the day
she finds them, unmistakable knots, gristle, seedlings
in her left breast. Mother        cannot take me; Father runs
the truck to warm it, breath suspended like October fog over the soybean
field. We descend Hanging Rock Hill. My father, who, says my mother,    

clucked with happiness        at news of my period but with whom
the brutalities            of puberty are not spoken—save         
a drive from school the day I’d forgotten deodorant, his tender       
broaching my, as he called it, Tang, now asks, How              dense   
do the lumps feel and      Does any     substance come out your nipple      
if you squeeze?            O how like a garden                snake my tears     
make their way up, up from the fists    under the thighs,
from the chalky pit      of gut, the mouth’s soft gasket: some great   

caterwaul         pelts every corner of the truck’s cab: O ignominy
a marble in each breast, each throat               I cannot clear
and why        I will recall this moment as I stand outside     
a courtroom, twenty years      later, giving myself back    my name—
my tears      trouble my father so, he, too, begins to cry        for me.

Susanna Childress has published two collections of poetry and is now at work on a book of creative nonfiction titled "Extremely Yours." Her work can be found or is forthcoming from The Rumpus, Fourteen Hills, Crazyhorse, Iron Horse Literary Press, Rhino, Relief, and Oakland Review. She grew up in southern Indiana.