Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Berry Fields Forver, a poem by Tracy Mishkin

Berry Fields Forever
by Tracy Miskin

Rows and rows of strawberries. The sign says U-Pick
and we can eat as many as we want, bring them home
and Mom will make shortcake. Our friend Ora gives us
some strawberry plants and now we have a little patch
next to our house. Every year they come back. At camp
we sing “I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine.”
And when I have my own house, I buy a flat of strawberry plants.
They bear the sweet fruit every summer, and there are so many
packed in the raised bed that we can gorge on them,
give them away, and still they rot on the vine.

My softball game is over, so I climb the mulberry tree
behind the bleachers, picking and eating, stuffing them
in my mouth while my brother plays baseball.
Aaa batter aaa batter aaa buzzing like cicadas below me.
The mulberries stain my fingers and I track the juice
into the house on my shoes. Mom wants to make pie,
so we pull fruit from stems for hours, and the pie is dense
with berries and sour cream. Each year I find more
mulberry trees—Bloomington has the best one, the branches
low to ground, the fruit huge and sweet. I am so absorbed
by eating that I don't see my son's white shirt has streaks
of purple and his shorts berry-fingered handprints.

I am picking black raspberries in the woods with chiggers
biting me where my underwear has elastic. I know
I will be itchy and I don't care because the fruit is so good.
Mom tells me the raspberries are ripe by the tennis courts,
and we wade into thorny thickets together, pluck black fruit
like we don't have to go to work or cook dinner. We are eating
them and dropping them into the buckets, and eating them,
even though they are sour this year and she says a cup of sugar
for every cup of fruit when we make jam.

My best friend has red raspberry bushes and the fruit is big
and soft and ripe. We are fourteen and she is playing the Doors
on the record player when we are full of berries and our mouths
are red with juice. And I am forty-seven, feeding berries to my dogs,
my hands are red and blue with the juice of strawberries and mulberries
together, and the raspberries are green with promise. Only
a few weeks until we brave the thorns again. And every year more
and more fruit, ripe and sweet and rotting, dense and thorny bushes,
huge, abundant, abiding berries.

Bio: Tracy Mishkin is an MFA student in Creative Writing at Butler University. Her chapbook, I Almost Didn't Make It to McDonald's, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. She has two poems in Reckless Writing 2013: The Continued Modernization of Poetry and one in Best of Flying Island 2014. She also has a poem forthcoming in The Quotable.

Friday, May 15, 2015


by Kim Nentrup

It was God to you. The expansive, eye-filling Lake Michigan, with its moodiness and its billion diamond sparkles at dusk. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the sparkles became the different aspects of God, all the things one could ever learn about Him, and how they were significant, each one. You grieved each time you left the lake, because you knew that your mind could not remember the pure beauty of Him for a whole year, until summer vacation brought you back again.

It was the next summer you lost your faith. It happened slowly, like a trickle of water over a slate-bottomed creek in a drought. First, after an evangelist's wife confided in you that she did not believe in hell, you realized you also did not believe in hell. God was pure beauty--hell was an inconsistent ugliness. Then you read and read and read about the origins of the Bible, and started to realize that it was no longer truth to you. You talked to a preacher and confessed you didn’t believe Jesus was God at all. He looked at you with pity. Then you cried, sobbing over Jesus not being there with you anymore, not loving you unconditionally, not making all things work together for good.

You were sad as your husband and you drove up the long dirt drive to the lake cabin. You helped bring the luggage and baskets of towels and flip flops and linens into the house. Then you knew it was time. It was the annual first look. You had to walk about fifteen feet up a hill to see the lake.

You walked up that hill thinking that the lake might not even be there. How could it be? But as the blue sky revealed itself and the deeper blue line of horizon revealed itself and then the shore, and the grasses, you saw that it was there. And it was morning, and the breeze was just so, no longer the Holy Spirit caressing you, but still cool on your face. And you walked down the steps, all 64 of them, to the sand and kicked off your shoes.

There was a washed up log and you sat down on it, feeling the warmed sand, and you put your head in your hands and you cried. It was a grieving cry for an old friend who had died.

The sobbing went on for some time. You thought of the time that you stood talking to the lake and praising it for its magnificence. You wondered at how odd that seemed now. You looked to the left toward the lighthouse and saw it was still there. You looked to the right to the bend of the land and saw it was still there. It was all still there. It was there for you. It hadn’t left you.

You stepped into the cold July water, up to your knees, and let the tiny waves lap against you. You needed to dive in and be re-baptized in this water of disbelief. But you weren’t going to do that. You just felt it on your legs and said that would be enough.

Every year before, every time you had to turn to leave the lake and head for the stairs for a sandwich or a nap, or to leave for the summer, it was the hardest thing. The lake sang a siren song, once a deity singing comfort, but now, when you turned to walk up the stairs, you felt the breeze was just a breeze on your back, no longer God's spirit. The rush of the waves was not a whisper of truth, but a lovely sound of nature. The sparkles on the tips of the waves from the shore to the horizon were not points of holiness, but simple, heart-filling beauty. 

You knew the lake would exist in your mind all year. It wasn't going to leave, and it was enough. 

Kim Nentrup is a freelance writer. Having just completed her first novel, she is now working on her second. She is a nonprofit grant writer and ghost writer and can be found at www.kimnentrup.com. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband of 16 years.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Catalina, a poem by Richard King Perkins II

by Richard King Perkins II

Here we will awaken
pulled upward like Natalie Wood
from the sea.

What should have been boffo
is all kelp and algae
drenched in Coke and Fanta.

The moon is temporarily given
an atmosphere on the sound stage
where we first landed.

Barely with voices, the thin sound
pulverized between us, the dust
of space, of performance hugs.

Bio: Richard King Perkins II is a former Gary resident now living in Illinois. “I am a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. I have a wife, Vickie and a daughter, Sage. I am a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee and have had work appear in hundreds of publications, including The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, Two Thirds North, The Red Cedar Review and The William and Mary eview. I have poems forthcoming in the Roanoke Review, The Alembic and Milkfist. My poem ‘Distillery of the Sun’ was awarded second place in the 2014 Bacopa Literary Review contest.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

O'Hare, a poem by Tony Brewer

by Tony Brewer

His eyes say he was never a boy.
Father swats built confidence.
Backhanded mom for sass.
And all the bullies bigger than him.
Now he pulls down seven
figures taxed down to six.
Earned scowl gouged out of his face.
Broad shoulders chiseled from a gray suit
and blocks of flipped real estate.
Deals struck, drinks poured — boom, done.
Today, third in the first-class line
and pissed he’s not in front.
Sizing up #1 and #2.
Pretty sure he could take them
silently by smartphone and contract.
An elderly couple pre-boarding brushes
past him with their oxygen tanks.
DeKalb cap and floral muumuu.
He considers acquiring
and auctioning their every asset.
But he’s boarding now ahead of me.
The unfair world back on his side.

Bio: Tony Brewer is a poet, spoken word performer, sound effects artist, typesetter, and event producer from Bloomington, Indiana. He chairs the Writers Guild at Bloomington and is executive director of the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival. He has 3 books: The Great American Scapegoat, Little Glove in a Big Hand (Plan B Press), and Hot Type Cold Read (Chatter House Press).


Friday, May 1, 2015

Invitations of the Wild Child, a poem by Liza Hyatt

Invitations of the Wild Child
by Liza Hyatt

Now my turn.
Watch me dance.
Tell me a story that travels down my spine.
Once the giant stood overhead.
Now, look,
Orion is lying down.
Morning vibrates.
Clouds curl,
swoop down.
The kingfisher
dives red down into the water.
We’ll run through the tree tunnel.
Play in the vine house.
Live by learning wild things.
Inside is a forest,
near where the sea wind meets bone,
full mooned.
Here is a crimson flower in loam.
Learn by living the wild learning.
I’ll pick this flower.
It is just under the skin,
small and excited,
a heart pushed alone from the womb.

Bio: Liza Hyatt is the author of The Mother Poems (Chatter House Press, 2014); Stories Made of World (Finishing Line Press, 2013); and Under My Skin (WordTech Editions, 2012). She plays the Celtic harp and often accompanies herself with the harp, bardic style. She hosts a monthly poetry reading/open mic at Lawrence Art Center on Indianapolis’ east side.