Sunday, September 27, 2015

Going Dark, a poem by Liza Hyatt

Going Dark
            “To know the dark, go dark.” – Wendell Berry

I am in the night place
where more dark exists
for opened eyes than closed
and silence pushes into the ears.
Here fire is a tongue.
I have held fire,
have followed the lipped contours
of a riverbank
in search of the mouth from which it pours.
Now I kneel down,
to grope my way.
The ground is trembling.
If I wake from here,
into a bright, loud world,
I will be mute and visionless.
Now I reach through throated black
to feel where I am
and I touch surprising water
which speaks in the palm of my hand.

                        —by Liza Hyatt

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 in public performances of her poetry, she often accompanies herself the harp, bardic style. She hosts a monthly poetry reading/open mic at the Lawrence Art Center.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Looking East, a poem by Catherine Grossman

Looking East
by Catherine Grossman 

On the deck above Cayuga Lake
awake before my family and the dawn,
on hand for the sun’s blaring rise.
It’s done now, nothing large enough
as a cloud to get in its way—
a terrifying white gold track
blazes across calm water—
reprimanding me—you are far
from home.  I am, but that’s a fool’s trail
built for water spiders.  I’ll stay here
and track what’s left of me
after hours of not breathing—that is,
I’m not sure of anything. The wind
is stirring.  Maybe I am this rented house,
its dusty corners and mementos
hanging on walls. I have no memories. 

The water is blue, black and lemon green
where weeds show through. The wake
is a meter-less lento, licking the shore,
the pace of a tongue on an ice cream cone.
Now, tender skins of summer leaves—
sweet cymbals, again and again, twisting
in their places, playing continuo,
continuo—a woodwind now, a vireo.

Bio: Catherine Grossman is a member emeritus of the Women's Creative Writing Group; she has an MFA from Warren Wilson. Her last published poem is in the Tipton Poetry Journal. She teaches at Ivy Tech Community College and at the Lafayette Writer's Studio, in Lafayette, Indiana.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Eye Patch, a poem by Marjie Giffin

Eye Patch
by Marjie Giffin

I was a kindergarten pirate
but bagged no bounty.

No swashbuckling for me,
no gold ear bangles.

No red, knotted bandana,
no breech pants or boots.

But my eye patch glistened!
Fabric shimmered with tears.

Name calling hurt,
and it blurred my sight.

Flipped elastic caused pain
to tender scalp and pride.

Far better to be Four Eyes
than a pirate at five.

Far better to sport curls
than a patch over eyes.

Bio: Marjie Giffin is an Indianapolis resident who writes poetry and nonfiction. She has published four regional histories as well as recent poems in Poetry Quarterly, The Flying Island, Story Circle Journal, and a local blog. In her spare time, she is active in workshops at the Indiana Writers Center and with Story Circle Network.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Painful, a poem by Jay S. Zimmerman

by Jay S Zimmerman

Quiet Sunday, early morning

Sitting among bird sounds,

last rustle of evening cicadas,

light creeping around trees,

She is gone now

Leaving with moonlight

My heart empty

Like the lonely birdbath

At the edge of the garden

Void of water


Pierced by thorns of rose bushes

stumbling half heartedly into the day

Tears from hollow eyes

Drunk on loneliness

Broken from falling

Into the blood lilies

Memories of her footsteps

As the wood floors

creaked behind her

And the screened door

slammed shut

Bio: “I was born in the concrete caverns of New York amid the trolley bells and sounds of subways, travelled south to Miami Beach and thrived in the warm sands and salt air dancing to the musical rhythms of klesmer, cha cha and bossa nova, finally venturing to the dark soil, flat farmlands and rolling hills of the Midwest, where my roots have grown and been nourished for over 40 years. I am an artist, photographer, psychologist, social justice advocate and emerging writer as well as a person continuously discovering the beauty, joy and pain in our world.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Feet, Creative Nonfiction by Maureen O'Hern


by Maureen O'Hern

I watched my feet -- left, right, left, right -- move mechanically over miles of hospital terrazzo, a sameness that I trod back and forth, not daring to look up for fear I would see how far it stretched and how it merged into the sameness of the walls.

The carpet in the hospital waiting room was green and black, evoking bright slime on fetid water, and hypnotic in a threatening, slithery sort of way. Sometimes that was the foil to my feet. Left, right, left, right. Back and forth. I hated that carpet.

Where dementia led, we followed, Dad and I. Step by numb step.

Sometimes I watched my feet go down the stairs at home. Our house was an old two-flat, and the stairs were hardwood, overlaid with a tile path bordered on both sides by ancient glassy varnish, ever evocative of the apprenticeship I served as a girl, cleaning those varnished corners with the point of an old paring knife carefully, carefully, so as not to scratch the wood. It was inevitable that I should check those same corners as I watched my slippered feet, up and down, in the night; my feet were tired, and their tiredness seeped up through me.

Then there were Dad’s feet -- long, bony and strangely colorless. Sometimes they paced next to mine. One time when he was in the hospital, I arrived at his room to find him dressed and announcing his intention to go home. He was done with that place. So there were my tennis shoes next to his Florsheims, marking the seconds, the hours, pacing like the tedium of a metronome -- left, right -- back and forth, until the doctor came that evening. Dad was angry. I was scared.

That was the night the doctor explained sundowning to me. Sundowning. What an innocuous word. It sounds like something peaceful and restoring, the prelude to sleep and renewed life. But it is rather a night-time of the mind, a destructive, exhausting, terrifying closure of consciousness and an awakening of demons and delusions that well up and command. When night came, Dad was not Dad; he became Other.

The feet of this Other moved all night. Back and forth through the house, sometimes down to the basement, sometimes to the doors, as It tried to get out. Sometimes upstairs. But never still. As the months went on, Dad’s legs became too weak and weary to support him during the day but could not be quieted at night. Left, right, up, down.

One day he told me how at night he looked for “someone in charge,” unwittingly describing his sundowning. Consistent with his love of reason, he sought someone who could explain what must have been profoundly frightening to him as his world was wrenched out of his control each night. If the mind could bleed, Dad’s would have every night. If the soul could vomit, Dad’s would have every night. Just so hellish was the sundowning.

In his last weeks, Dad could barely stand, let alone walk, and so I walked for both of us. I pushed him in his wheelchair over those same terrazzo floors, feeling suffocated by the sameness underfoot, the sameness closing in on all sides, as we searched for quiet. As doggedly as Dad had searched for “someone in charge” at home did we search for quiet at the hospital, and that quiet was the same Will-o’-the-Wisp as “someone in charge.” As there had been no one “in charge” for Dad at night, just so was there no quiet for us by day. I walked and pushed round and round -- left, right -- to find a fragment of peace, but the hospital had filled every corner, every nook with plastic sound that held neither melody nor meaning. I walked and pushed everywhere to get away from it, but I couldn’t.

Dad’s feet propped uselessly in the chair and my own useless in our quest, we looped endlessly to find the unfindable, making our way to nowhere.

Until one night I walked with the body bag into the cold clear midnight. Left, right.

Maureen O’Hern is a former English teacher, a botanical artist, a graduate of 
Purdue and a member of the Indiana Writers Center.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

she does not tolerate paradox well, a poem by Barry Harris

she does not tolerate paradox well

nor him for that matter
nor her cat
who likes to lie across her shoulders
while a chocolate labrador
sits at her feet in stark obedience

ambiguity sits uneasy with her
she demands her facts black
and white unstirred with no nonsense
loyal lapdogs work best
in her mind:  low turnover

no need to retrain even her thoughts
or plow new earth of any kind
she was done with all that a long time ago
when some festered hurt pestered her
long after the initial pain had passed
now she grows thistles with the hope
that some Sweet William or Jack-in-the-Pulpit
might unexpectedly poke through

that is why he stays to discover
if he is the true wildflower she sees
and not the mass of contradictions
he knows himself to be    

                         --by Barry Harris                                                                                

Bio: Barry Harris is editor of the Tipton Poetry Journal and has published one poetry collection, Something At The Center. Barry lives in Brownsburg, Indiana and is retired from Eli Lilly and Company. A graduate of Ball State University with a major in English, Barry was founding editor of Tipton Poetry Journal, which has been published in print and online versions since 2004. In 2009, he helped found Brick Street Poetry, Inc., a non-profit organization which now publishes Tipton Poetry Journal, hosts Poetry on Brick Street, and sponsors poetry-related events. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Saint Ann’s Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Silk Road Review, Kentucky Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Silver Birch Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Night Train, Hiss Quarterly, Cherry Blossom Review, Flying Island, Lily, The Centrifugal Eye, Redheaded Stepchild, Flutter, Wheelhouse Magazine, Houston Literary Review, Snow Monkey and Writers’ Bloc; and in these anthologies: MOTIF 3: Work, Twin Muses: Art and Poetry and From the Edge of the Prairie.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Chorizo, a poem by Teri Costello

by Teri Costello

Huevos con chorizo on Sunday mornings,
a snapshot of San Diego I had never seen.

Your childhood. Noisy, rowdy, poor.
Steaming platters of frightening food served by the dark-eyed waitress,
and you, buttering my bread.

The cooks singing to the yipping Mexican music on the radio, cranked up.
And you, my green-eyed Sicilian, fascinating me, naïve White Girl.

Playing, laughing, listening to gospel music roar from the Baptist church.  

Nobody hid when the unusual rain came to Southern California that morning; Perfect was everywhere.

Do you remember the weekend in Ensenada that year,
climbing the rock face stoned, Phil Harris in Hussong’s?

It’s different there now. Have you heard?

Bio: Originally from San Diego and a CPA by profession, Teri Costello took down her shingle in 2011 and moved to Indianapolis after living in Los Angeles and Chicago. In her words, “Life now is sweet, close, and personal.”