Thursday, February 20, 2020

Unexpected Letter, a poem by Laurel Smith

Unexpected Letter                                                                   
           by Laurel Smith

In a dream you swear you
never dreamed, your mother
is writing a letter left-handed
on plain paper in a cursive you
must work to decipher—so unlike
the perfect hand in the letters
she wrote you. Now an urgent

message has shaken her ability
to hold a pen, or she has suffered
a stroke and expects you to see 
the chaos, to translate her pain, or
you missed the point of every letter
she sent: her calm, cheerful text
punctuating the years while

this letter is the one
she intended all the time. 
So you focus on each loop that
tries to be a vowel, each chunk
of ink that wants to be a word
since she will not speak again
and this broken verse is for you.

Laurel Smith lives in Vincennes, Indiana, and happily participates in projects to promote literacy and the arts. Her poems have appeared in Natural Bridge, New Millennium Writings, Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, English Journal, JAMA: Journal of the AMA; also in the following anthologies: Mapping the Muse, And Know This Place, Visiting Frost.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rain, a poem by Jared Carter

   by Jared Carter

The tractor-trailer’s eighteenth wheel,
          in cornering
The broken exit curb, congeals
          and makes a thing

Of mud out of the brindled cur
          that stood beside
Him all this time. The moment blurs.
          He throws the sign--

Will Work for Food--into the ditch
          that runs nearby,
And reaches through the rain to bitch
          against the sky.

Jared Carter's most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in West Virginia.  He lives in Indiana.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

On Learning in New Mexico that Seamus Heaney Died, a poem by Norbert Krapf

On Learning in New Mexico that Seamus Heaney Died
             by Norbert Krapf

A poet who dug in the earth
with his father to plant potatoes
and bring them later to light

has died. His poems too dig down
into bog and peat and past and present
and bring up the smell of many layers

of lives lived in a place and a language
that rose up in him and always stayed
connected to his native place. His words

live on like roots of history going down
and coming back up conducting
the water pooled below the surface

he walked in a steady rhythm like
a creature whose legs and lungs
are strong from having worked

and written what he discovered
he knew because the pen in his
hand never stopped digging.

This son could handle a pen
the way his father did a spade,
with an elemental art that revealed

its quality by how deep he dug
in ways that never stopped being
new no matter how old they were

Norbert Krapf, a former Indiana Poet Laureate, has published thirteen collections, the latest of which are The Return of Sunshine, about his Columbian-German-American grandson, five, and Indiana Hill Country Poems. In 2021 his prose book, Homecomings: A Writer's Memoir, will be published.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Winter in Connecticut, a poem by Robert Halleck

Winter in Connecticut
        by Robert Halleck

On a cold, clear, autumn day in Connecticut
Bob's guardian angel told him he was going
to spend the winter in Florida with the Schwartzes.
Bob was delighted, filling his head with visions
of being alone in a Connecticut winter: happy hour
at the Greyhound Pub, nights watching TV sports,
more indoor tennis, lounging in old clothes.

Flashing his best cherubic smile, the angel
mentioned that on the day of his departure
a very nice lady will be moving next door.
She has dark hair, smoky green eyes, and will
be coming to Bob's house to borrow a hammer.

Robert Halleck has been writing poetry since 1958. He was briefly stationed at
Fort Benjamin Harrison as a U.S. Army lieutenant during the Vietnam War.
Poetry is more than a hobby for him, but it does not crowd out other activities
such as golf, autocross racing, and care giving through Stephen Ministries. His
recent work has appeared in The San Diego Poetry Annual, Remington Review,
HobartSt. Ann's Review, Chiron, and other journals. He is a member of San
Diego's Not Dead Yet Poets and hopes to continue as a member for a long time.
For a number of years he has attended the Kenyon Review's Summer Workshops.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Team of Disappointing Men, a poem by Michael Brockley

                              The Team of Disappointing Men
                                                  by Michael Brockley

At the misfits’ lunch table at your professional development conference, you introduce yourself to a man who grew up in a dozen American cities and a woman who earned All-State honors as a field hockey striker in Ohio. Over appetizers your group steers the conversation toward a lament about disappointing teams. The Metssays the traveling man. You offer the woeful Reds. She cuts her vegan lasagna into bite-sized cubes. Studies the afternoon schedule, choosing between this year’s empowerment lecture and a PowerPoint on malingering. 

You never called the women you met at a restaurant named for a lazy cartoon cat after you promised them you would. Once stood up a blind date to take her best friend to hear Juice Newton moan Angel of the Morning at the Key Palace Theater to a crowd reliving one-night stands from thirty years ago. But the striker slices through a sorrow more grief than grievance; a noxious cocktail of emailed erection snapshots and Instagram betrayals. Like the youth pastor who slaps a newswoman’s butt as he jogs past her during a benefit race for a battered women’s shelter. Like the man who awakens his stepdaughter to roll her over into yet another depthless night.

For decades, you’ve ridden the bench on a team of disappointing men, making yourself invaluable for all the positions you can play. Always eager with a chuckle or a nod to hear how another woman breaks down. Like the striker at our table cutting her lasagna. She never looks up. Says Men. MenA man from your team left the dark silences that shadow the striker’s eyes. A man very much like you.

Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Panophyzine, New Verse News, and Flying Island.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Threnody, a poem by Shanda Blue Easterday

by Shanda Blue Easterday

Later the same day I learn the meaning
of "threnody," which cannot be repeated
too often, this song or poem celebrating
or lamenting a life lost but well lived,
written to remember the many questions
unasked while you were living, such as "Did
you read the novels of William Coughlin?"
You read most Michigan authors, and I
find these books entertaining in a way
that you might have, to celebrate
your appetite for literature and life,
however common or exceptional,
like rules for imagists or pink petals
on a wet deep green bough.

Shanda Blue Easterday is a retired professor of Literatures in English,
current editor and contributor for Grit and Grace: A Women Writing Anthology,
and editor for Mind Vine Press. She sits on the board of a local school. Her
poems have appeared in Aesthetica, The Dos Passos Review, Dislocate, The
Louisville Review, Flying Island, and in many other places. Her poetry collection
The Beekeeper's Wife was published in 2011 as was a chapbook, From Egg to
Moth, poems about Maria Sybilla Marian.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Helicopter Poet,a poem by Nancy Pulley

Helicopter Poet
by Nancy Pulley

I hover over creation, stroke
a metaphor as if brushing
the hair from my grandson’s forehead,
pull a poem back from the hot fire
of the critic as I did my son’s fingers
from our autumn campfire. I can’t bear
for the world to see them through any
except a mother’s eyes. How I cherish
the fact that they came from me, wonder
if I should trust others to love enough
to help with their raising. A teacher
suggests taking out the heart of one, and
a nearly famous poet calls them “sentimental.”
Yet try as I might to build poems
like bridges, I keep birthing them from
some romantic liaison with air, sky, tree,
river or the occasional star that falls
to earth like a God. Words are not
brightly colored Lego blocks
to be torn apart and repurposed. They cling
to me, my little monkeys, my sweet
offspring, daughters coming in from the yard,
peach juice glistening on their young, pink lips.

Nancy Pulley's poems have appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, the Indiannual, Flying Island, Arts Indiana Literary Supplement, Passages North, Plainsong, the Sycamore Review, and the Humpback Barn Festival collection. In 1992, she won the Indiana Writers Center poetry chapbook contest, resulting in the publication of a chapbook, Tremolo of Light.