Monday, February 20, 2017

Poisoned Soil, by Joseph S. Pete

Poisoned Soil
by Joseph S. Pete

In a black-and-white picture,
Shadow-effect letters pop off the pristine fence line,
Proudly declaring the plant “The Home of Anaconda White Lead”
As though lead were as wholesome as oatmeal,
As All-American as dogs and suds at a vintage drive-in.

For decades, the factory smelted lead,
Corroding lead, antimonial lead,
Lead for paint, insecticides, who knows what else.

Bug-killing chemicals seeped into that patch of soil in East Chicago,
City of heavy industry and hopeful immigrants,
Lakefront city of coiled steel and ship canals.

After the factory inevitably shuttered,
Having run its course,
Someone somewhere at some point
Decided to plop public housing on that salted swath of lead and arsenic.
Somebody decided it was okay
For kids to play in neurotoxin-ridden dirt.

Then one day,
Officials in button-down shirts and soft leather shoes
Called a public meeting
In a school auditorium where a few of the seats were busted-up,
And had been for years.

They spoke of contamination, exposure, testing.
They warned of brain disorders and nervous system damage.
They used words like “toxicity” and “risk,”
Phrases like “cognitive deficit.”

Residents learned there was a malicious invader
In the soil, in their children’s blood.
They learned it had been there,
Been lurking
All along.

From the poet: "Joseph S. Pete is an Iraq War veteran, an award-winning journalist, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio in Merrillville. He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest 2016, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His work has appeared in The Five-Two, Chicago Literati, Dogzplot, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Pulp Modern, Zero Dark Thirty and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers' Workshop. True story, believe it or not."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Singular Plurality, a poem by Dan Carpenter

Singular Plurality
by Dan Carpenter

When one
learns one
interests no one
not even one’s
loved ones
one feels at once
at having won

at one for once
with oneself

About Dan Carpenter: I'm a freelance writer in Indianapolis who's published poems in Flying Island, Poetry East, Illuminations, Pearl, Xavier Review, Southern Indiana Review, Tipton Poetry Journal and other journals.” 

Monday, February 6, 2017

February Ice Storm, a poem by Doris Lynch

February Ice Storm
by Doris Lynch

       Eighty-four years ago, your first--
another century, another world.
Horsecarts clattered over cobblestones,
fruit & vegetable men yodeled to housewives,
urging them to buy winter carrots and cabbages.
On Allegheny Avenue flappers wove,
their hair newly cropped, sequened dresses
shining with sun. Scarfs, capped
with fox faces, draped ivory necks.
Another February--your birthday--
you lie cocooned in a hospital bed
in Crystal River’s Emergency Room
across from the twin-headed nuclear
plant that buttresses the Gulf of Mexico
while a phone call away, Indiana
hail hisses and trucks disgorge
salt onto Highway 45.

There is no safety
for any of us: not drivers
skidding from tiger-stripe
to bike lane, not doctors
carefully scanning your MRI,
not black lab sprawled, legs akimbo
on glazed lawn beneath the lone cardinal
seeking shelter in crystalline hedgerow.

Ice comes from a mysterious place
called cloud, None of us can see through
or beyond it. But isn’t it enough when sky
timpanis music? That we tilt
faces up, mouths open
like baby starlings, and tiny shards
enter and melt on our tongues.

About Doris Lynch: She has work recently in the Tipton Poetry Journal, the Atlanta Review, Frogpond, Haibun Today, and Contemporary Haibun Online. The Indiana Arts Commission awarded her three individual artist’s grants: two in poetry and one in fiction. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

A reasonable thing, a poem by Treh Dickerson

A reasonable thing
by Treh Dickerson

the backyard is at ease
I stand on the deck and smoke

night clouds are white layered
on dark blue, I tap the lid

of the toy bin
looking for rainwater to smash

my cigar in
I snuff it in the bonfire, drag its good

length through ash until it unravels,
bends sideways,

I waste a thumbs weight
of tobacco

I hear crickets and the sharp echo
of dogs set each other off

Treh Dickerson: “After having completed my education and the acquiring of a second-rate degree in English I continue to write poetry, inspired mostly by anything that has to do with dutch mysticism in the 19th century around the cities and villages that comprised New England at that time, and black comedians (Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, etc). These poems are crass, reserved, usually follow a form and aim at the spiritual high of romantics. When they miss, they become honest, and when they hit they become sound-driven. 
                     “I write newsletters for a small company in West Lafayette, among other things”

Monday, January 23, 2017

For Luigi, a poem by Jennifer Shoup

For Luigi
by Jennifer Shoup
I clatter down the steep stairs from street level,
pass Francis at the desk, wearing his hat that is NOT straw, 
round the corner into the studio to find John,
spot lit by sun falling through the skylight.
There is happiness here.
In the way the music compels me to move-
catch the accents, stretch the counts.
In the epaulment and shading,
the push and pull between earth and air,
the elegance of the lifted and open heart.
To dance, you said, put your hand on your heart and listen to the sound of your soul.
The power of that sound scares me-
leaves me open and exposed,
lays me bare.
But when I listen and dance,
what is hectic inside calms,
the noise and static recede.
And I am joy and light and music.
Never stop moving, you said.
How could I?
Moving is beauty and strength,
a lifeline,
the only way to survive.
How could I, When you never did,
and there is such happiness here?
Jennifer Shoup: “I am a dancer and an attorney who grew up, and currently works, in Indiana.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Generalissimo, a haibun by Ed Alley

by Ed Alley

Generalissimo has arrived. At six feet four, he says more, he towers over all. He tromps the boards with a thump, stumps people with each breath he takes, he exhales a new reality. He sweeps into the Living Room, dressed in black, a huge hat on his golden head, swollen from secret overuse, his head breaks the band of his feather festooned hat, so big he has to remove it (the hat), when he enters the little white house. Gold fringed epaulets on each shoulder, stars of gold. Braided gold lines the closure of his coat. Over his heart, LOU embroidered on his name patch (Lord of the Universe too big for the space aloud). Gold everywhere, his teeth, seat, scepter, and cape. Size 14 boots adorn his pedal extremities, spurs jangle with every trounce. Minions deliver a desk the size of a continent into the office he appropriates. 75 golden telephones line the desk, each labeled “Urgent.” Cronies crow, take a seat near His Frumpyness, hands outstretched to receive glory. A new world order, with stiff arm salute and hobnail boots, parades with the drum-beat of conquest through pale streets lined with the Chosen. From his porcelain throne, he rules his fiefdom with a giggle, a snort, a belly laugh. Like a runaway truck, he bobs and weaves through traffic, no clear destination or intention. Ramblin’, rollin’, he reeks of power, throwing things and people away if they disagree with him. He wrangles bedraggled roaring crowds, promising riches for all. One morning the Generalississimo is found stuffed into his ego, flying around the room like a balloon expelling hot air, then crumples like a wad of waste paper the floor. An eagle soars above.


From Ed Alley: “The winds of time bring many new things to us. A hard-fought election can bring almost anyone to a new office. This poem is a reflection on that process.”

Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter Meditation, a poem by Mary Redman

Winter Meditation
by Mary Redman

Cross-legged on a cool rubber mat, I sit
intent on clearing thoughts, pull breath
in, begin to count ...

Outside a flock of starlings
scarcely colors the brown-gray morning.
Their wings beat, hold them hovering
over three spiky shrubs, denuded
beyond the window. Unfazed by the cold
metal shepherd’s crook and glass tube,
four land on a feeder, half-filled with seed.
A dozen more vie for a spot, their cries more
shrieks than trills. I release my breath.
Responding, they fly, and I pass through
with them beguiled toward the flat sky.

About Mary Redman: She is a retired high school English teacher who takes classes at the Indiana Writers Center. She works part time supervising student teachers for two universities. She volunteers at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and elsewhere in the community.