Monday, December 26, 2016

Underground, a prose poem by Jared Carter


by Jared Carter

      The two children – abruptly shoved off the platform into the path of an oncoming train – are not in that instant crushed by the wheels, but instead dissolved against the event horizon of a black hole suddenly materialized out of another galaxy.
      Its unknowable surface accepts each of them. The girl becomes a dove caught by the softest, lightest of nets, the boy a silver fish trapped in a riverbank weir.
      The subway tunnel with its overhead coffers, the platform, the people standing along the edge, the train braking to a stop – all of this translates into long filaments of irretrievable data.
      Agamemnon announces that the wind has risen, and the Achaeans can now set their sails.

Bio: Jared Carter’s sixth collection, Darkened Rooms of Summer, was published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. He lives in Indianapolis

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gravity (A Solstice Poem), by Jeffrey Owen Pearson

Gravity (A Solstice Poem)
by Jeffrey Owen Pearson

When asked what he would miss
while travelling in space,
the astronaut said, gravity.

And though we reach for the stars,
and though it yanked Icarus
out of the sky,

gravity is like that mother
who flicks our ear
to put us in our place.

It’s that thing that pulls the sun,
now at its farthest station,
back toward the earth.

That dark hand that reminds
each plant and animal and man
that winter is a time of earth and root.

That godlike thing who doesn’t see
but watches everything we do
and brings us together where we belong.

Bio: Jeffrey Owen Pearson’s poems have appeared in The Best of Flying Island, So It Goes, Reckless Writing 2014 Anthology, Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, and Maize. “I have fallen asleep again reading Homer” placed third in the 2014 Writers Digest Poetry Awards. Pudding House Publications published his chapbook Hawaii Slides. A member of the Midwest Writers Workshop, he lives in Muncie, where he helps with several poetry events.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Desert, a prose poem by Jared Carter

The Desert
by Jared Carter

      Prolonged exposure to extremes of sun and heat can cause madness, even death, yet there is said to exist one group of nomads who roam the desert unceasingly. Of its members, who have never been studied, only one thing is known.
      Before leaving each campsite, they mix quantities of sand with colors extracted from native wildflowers, and spread out a series of vast, intricate diagrams. Such patterns are obscured by the wind within minutes after the tribesmen ride away.      

      The purpose of these designs is unclear. Thought to be prehistoric in origin, they have never been sketched or photographed. Over the years, the wish to examine them has lured a number of expeditions onto the desert. Their fate is uncertain, for none has ever returned.      
      Certain adventurers are reported to have withstood the heat and the mirages until they have stumbled across dunes streaked with faint colors. Of these, a few are alleged to have survived, and to have pushed on into even more inhospitable regions.      
      According to legend, perhaps once each century an explorer manages to come face to face with the nomads – if indeed it can be assumed that such wanderers even exist. It is far more likely that all those who venture upon the desert perish without exception.
Bio: Jared Carter’s sixth collection, Darkened Rooms of Summer, was published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. He lives in Indianapolis.

Monday, December 5, 2016

When they marry, they make ..., a poem by Mary M. Brown

When they marry, they make

their own vows
and their own wedding cake
the cutest couple
a hyphenated name
a trip to Jamaica
a strict budget including
a hefty mortgage payment
a promise to each other never to fake it—
which they break—
two children
and one who doesn’t make it
a nice dinner every Wednesday—
steak and baked potatoes or crab cakes
a few martinis, gently shaken
a decision to relocate
mostly for the sake of the children
a valiant effort to educate them
a modest take in the stock market
readjustments along the way
and some healthy 401(k)s
arrangements for a parent’s wake
a quiet cabin at the lake
a mess or two—
but no grave mistake

                   by Mary M. Brown

Bio: Mary M. Brown lives and writes in Anderson, Indiana, a Hoosier not by birth but by long residence and disposition. She taught literature and creative writing at Indiana Wesleyan for many years. Her work appears on the Poetry Foundation and the American Life in Poetry websites and has been published recently in Christian Century, The Cresset, Quiddity, and Justice Journal.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016 Pushcart Prize nominees

Congratulations to the the 2016 Pushcart Prize nominations from the Flying Island Island online journal, a publication of the Indiana Writers Center.


"The New Girl at School Talks About Guns," by Robin Lovelace (March 21, 2016) Click here.


"Square of Love," by Charlie Sutphin (March 30, 2016) Click here.

"A Room of His Own," by Jay S Zimmerman (Oct. 21, 2016) Click here.


"Five Star Hole," by Grambi Dora (March 29, 2016) Click here.

"How to Be a Cop's Wife," by Lindsey Warner (June 6, 2016)

"What to say to a refugee," by Mary M. Brown (Sept. 26, 2016)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Crèche, a prose poem by Michael Brockley

by Michael Brockley

This year you build a Nativity scene with a green Tyrannosaurus Rex leering into the stable. Its buck teeth glisten whenever a car turns down your block, and its torpid tail reminds you how fragile your knowledge has grown. Batman straddles the roof as if he has rappelled down the side of a Bethlehem skyscraper. The Native American Thunderbird from your bolo tie affixed to the roof serves as the crèche star. This is the year the redhead left you for a stuntman she met at Sundance. The year your veterinarian injected pentobarbital into your last dog’s thigh. You position three Darth Vadars on the straw while Homer’s son bangs on a Lego drum. A rhinoceros and a one-eared kangaroo shiver across the dying campfire from the dinosaur. Frigid or fearful. You’ve never figured it out. Conan the Barbarian kneels at the fire, feeding it scraps of Hershey Kiss wrappers. Discarded holiday ribbons. His battle ax strapped across his back. Wile E. Coyote peeks from behind the Lands’ End shoe box that serves as the stable. You hum “Blue Christmas” and “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” while propping Spiderman and Daredevil behind a menagerie of rat finks and bobbleheads, memorizing the songs for your soundtrack of holiday carols. From within the shadows, a black-and-white Jessica Rabbit stands beside her Joseph, a blind Mr. Spock. In the manger, lined with cotton balls from your cholesterol prescription and strands of your late dog’s pale hair, you place the child you no longer believe in. You wonder what gifts your Magi would bring.

Bio: Michael Brockley is a 67-year-old school psychologist who works in rural northeast Indiana. His poems have appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, The New Verse News, The Rat's Ass Review and Panoplyzine. Forthcoming poems can be found in Atticus Review, Gargoyle and Zingara Poetry Picks.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Spending Thanksgiving Day Alone, a poem by George Fish

Spending Thanksgiving Day Alone
by George Fish

Yeah, well,
that’s a real turkey!
far more wobble than gobble!

And when
Thanksgiving Day dinner
is a sandwich
made festive for the holiday
with four slices of bologna
garnished with a whole
two slices of
Muenster cheese
and a good dollop of
horseradish mustard—
well, that’s clearly a turkey
that ain’t a turkey!

Yeah, you who’ve been there
know exactly what I mean.

Bio: George Fish is an Indiana freelance journalist and poet whose work has appeared in several national and regional publications and websites, especially those of left and alternative publications. He has been described as "knowledgeable in an unusual variety of fields." In addition to short stories and poems, Fish has also published extensively on economics and politics; popular music, especially blues; and humor. He also does Lenny Bruce/George Carlin-inspired stand-up comedy. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sword of Maturity, a poem by Frederick Michaels

Sword of Maturity
by Frederick Michaels

Hand hammer forged,
purified in myriad layers
like innocent childhood wishes
folded into Xbox dreams
with young adult ambitions,
welding YouTube to Facebook.

Grown-up visions shaped
by iPhone and LinkedIn —
quenched in disappointment,
reheated in reality’s fire,
rehoned to a sharper edge,
polished to a brighter future.

Sheathed in scar tissue,
oiled by hard-won success,
hardened by experience
yet, soft as Corinthian leather,
her childhood wishes shine
like those in innocent eyes.

Bio: Frederick Michaels writes in retirement from his home in Indianapolis. His poetry has appeared in Flying Island, So It Goes Literary Journal, The Boston Poetry Journal, Branches magazine and Lone Stars magazine, among others. A number of his poems are included in the anthologies Reckless Writing 2012 and 2013 (from Chatter House Press, Indianapolis) and Naturally Yours (edited and self-published by Stacy Savage and Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff). His first book of poems, Potholes In the Universe, was recently published by Chatter House Press, Indianapolis. An engineer by training, Michaels has always been pulled to the side of the arts by his love of written words and the challenge of painting sense and feeling with them.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Favorite Author, a poem by Lylanne Musselman

Editor's note: Kurt Vonnegut was born on Nov. 11, 1922.

Favorite Author
by Lylanne Musselman

Pall-Mall smoker,
satirical joker,
technology hater,
Kilgore Trout creator,

POW survivor,
witty writer,
selfie screenprinter,
granfalloon spinner,

generational uniter,
political divider,
famous Hoosier,
mustache wearer,

advice giver,
life observer,
Saab dealer,
blues stealer,

wampeters definer,
reading reviver,
so it goes sayer,
controversy diver.

In a reading rut?
Get Vonnegut.

Bio: Lylanne Musselman is an award winning poet, playwright, and artist. Her work has appeared in Pank, Flying Island, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Poetry BreakfastSo it Goes, Issue 3, among others, and many anthologies.  In addition, Musselman has twice been a Pushcart nominee. Musselman is the author of three chapbooks, with a fourth forthcoming, Weathering Under the Cat, from Finishing Line Press. She also co-authored Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013). Presently, she teaches writing at IUPUI, and online for Ivy Tech Community College.

Monday, October 31, 2016

In Guernsey where the ghost, a poem by Mary M. Brown

In Guernsey where the ghost

of Victor Hugo rides the narrow streets
            like a roller coaster, we go to Eucharist

at the old Town Church of St. Peter
             Port, discover that the Very Reverend

            Canon is retiring soon, the after-service
cookies and tea designed to mark the day

                      in an understated way. We are
welcomed, but reluctant to intrude. Later

            we learn that Hauteville House is closed
                        today, only a placard outside the modest

            island home where Hugo wrote. There
the same deep violet wisteria that we noticed

climbing the stone of the great church
            shrieks with delight, falls fast and violent

from the locked iron gate

                      —by Mary M. Brown

Bio: Mary M. Brown lives and writes in Anderson, Indiana, a Hoosier not by birth but by long residence and disposition. She taught literature and creative writing at Indiana Wesleyan for many years. Her work appears on the Poetry Foundation and the American Life in Poetry websites and has been published recently in Christian Century, The Cresset, Quiddity, and Justice Journal.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Traveling, a prose poem by Jared Carter

by Jared Carter

Other musicians take their instruments along. On cross-country flights you see fiddle players who had to buy an extra ticket for the Stradivarius in the seat next to them. They look nervous.
It’s different playing piano. Each time you come to a new place, the piano is already there, browsing in the middle of the pasture, a long way from the fence. It’s black, usually, but sometimes roan. Once in a while it’s a buckskin.
It’s usually up in years, too. It’s been there a long time, it’s earned the right to graze anywhere it wants. Not like those cows, down by the river, under the cottonwood tree. They move with the shade, all day long. When the sun moves, they move. Not until. 
Worn steps lead up to the stage, to the flats of last night’s scenery waiting to be moved back to storage. Underneath the fake-wood flooring the actual surface is concrete. Gray corridors lead to dressing rooms, with doors you have to stoop to get through. There’s a wooden table, mottled with cigarette burns, its veneer peeling.
Backstage the walls are exposed brick. Masses and coils of rope swirl up into the darkness. Banks of switches and circuit breakers.  Styrofoam cups left on dusty ledges, stuck in behind fire extinguishers.  Windows opening onto airshafts. Anything people touch – doorknobs, levers, the backs of metal folding chairs – is worn to a pale brass sheen. 
The piano waits at the back of the stage. It stands patiently while you slip off its thick blanket. If you had remembered to bring a cube of sugar, or a carrot, and held it out now, it might raise its head and glance around at you. And switch its tail a few times.
Feel the strange vibrations echoing when you lift the keyboard cover and look at its teeth.     Tap a foreleg; it raises a hoof, so you can check the shoe. It’s accommodating. This is a horse that can stand, tie, and load. Its flanks ripple to keep the flies away.
Reach out and stroke its neck, its mane. Try a scale in G, then E-flat. Then a chromatic, middle C up three octaves and back again. Each key has a different feel. Each waits for you to get acquainted.
The trainer’s been here already. That’s part of the contract. It’s perfectly tuned. You look around. Sometimes there’s a square-legged bench grazing alongside. Or an adjustable stool with four claws made of cast-iron, each one grasping a little glass ball. Sometimes there’s a wooden kitchen chair with the back broken off.
The piano seems to know what you’re doing. It snuffles in the lower registers. Later, when the others get there, you’ll put on all the tack – blanket and saddle, bridle and bit – and you’ll swing up, and it will be time to head out.
Now, you have it all to yourself. No one else around. You try a few tunes you haven’t thought of in a long time. Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” Shelton Brooks, “Walking the Dog.” King Oliver, “Hello Central, Give me Doctor Jazz!”
The horse perks up. Its ears start forward. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Bio: Jared Carter’s sixth collection, Darkened Rooms of Summer, was published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. He lives in Indianapolis

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Room of His Own, Creative Nonfiction by Jay S Zimmerman

A Room of His Own
Jay S Zimmerman

It was an orthodox Jewish funeral, though my father was never orthodox, and I can’t remember the last time he was in a synagogue. In fact, I don’t ever remember him attending since my Bar Mitzvah. Our family celebrated all the typical Jewish Holidays and, except for my youngest sister, a Lubovich devotee committed to an orthodox Hasidic lifestyle, we were a fairly secular family. So, I was rather surprised to be standing here. The day was typical south Florida, hot, sticky and bright, and I stood in my suit, sweating, shovel in hand, staring down into the grave. The sound of the earth covering the coffin filled my ears as I lifted the shovel and watched his new white pine home being covered in a cascade of black dirt. I was burying my father. I heard a large rock thud against the wood and saw the top portion of the un-nailed coffin jar loose and move slightly off center. His arm around my shoulder, the mortuary director whispered in my ear, his funereal breath questioning if I desired him to go into the grave and straighten the coffin lid.  I laughed to myself, “My Dad might just like a room with a view. “I shook my head “no" and whispered back, "I don't really think it matters now, does it?"

As I continued to shovel the dirt before the bulldozer finished the task, I thought back over the last months. My father had decided he was ready for hospice. Too much pain for too long, too many middle of the night siren-filled trips to the ER, too many days in intensive care, too many doctors wanting to try procedures they thought might help him survive just a little longer. No more invasions into his body. The hospitalist was comforting and clear. It was time. My father was ready. No more treatment. He had reconciled himself to the reality of dying.

My Dad had a sweet tooth. I remember taking him to a doctor's appointment (he was using a walker by then). He spotted one of his favorite delis, smiled, "Let's get a pastry." I recalled this particular time because the place was filled with old Jewish folks with walkers and getting to the cash register meant entering a walker traffic jam. "Only in Florida," I chuckled to myself. My Dad could now eat all the candy and pastries he wanted. No more worries about clogged arteries or putting on weight. No more sneaking snacks behind my mothers back or her disdainful looks when she caught him. She worried constantly about his health.

Arrangements made, he was transported to an inpatient hospice while they prepared his home for in-home care. The hospice was located in the oldest building on the hospital campus. Ironic, isn’t it, housing the nearly dead in a building about to collapse? That first night in hospice my sister and I brought him a large bag of chocolate candy and relished in his smile. His eyes sparkled as he enjoyed the pleasant change from hospital food. We talked and I asked if he wanted anything at home. He nodded, said he would like to be able to look out the window from his hospital bed. I thought, “a simple last request.”

Nothing is simple with my mother. She is anxious and worries a lot and likes to live by routine. Any change could easily upset her. She had full time help in the house but we all thought this was more for company and less for help provided. She was lonely. My father and my mother were married for over 60 years but he was a workaholic and rarely there to provide her company. Since his near death experience ten years prior, due to his respiratory system approaching collapse, she had had to give up smoking and accommodate her life to his. He was a man who did not take care of his health and would need to be forced to see a doctor. It was hard for her to watch him refuse to do what he needed to do for himself. His behavior could lead to her becoming more controlling and demanding. She feared his dying and her being alone most and this led to many fights.

A change in the layout of his bedroom upset her and she refused his request. “It wont look good with the furniture that way. I wont have the room turned upside down," she said. In reality the room wouldn’t look any different with the head of the bed by the window. And anyway, the man was dying; why would the layout of the bedroom matter to her? But she was in her 80s now and change is much harder as we grow older. Plus, her life had been turned upside down by his illnesses and she craved sameness and stability. We insisted, telling her it was his dying wish to be able to look out at the world for his last few weeks, but she refused. My father came home at the end of the week and had a view of the stark white wall. He never spoke up for himself. A lifetime of trying to please her, a woman very hard to please, coupled with his own guilt about being absent from her life, kept conversation to a minimum. He capitulated as usual, claiming “It was easier this way.” My sister and I knew we could no longer be his voice.

A few weeks later, he ate breakfast and while waiting for some medication slipped quickly and quietly into death.

It was a little over a year later, not long after his unveiling, when I received a telephone call from my sister. “You wont believe it, Mom is moving Dad.” I didn’t know how to react. My first thought was “even in death, no rest.” My mother didn’t like where he was buried and so, now that the unveiling was over, she had arranged to move him somewhere else in the cemetery where she wouldn’t have to walk over other graves to get to the bench next to my fathers grave. She had him dug up and transported to his new “room” under some trees and changed where she and my younger sister would be buried so they could be next to him. Hearing all this, I wanted to pull out what was left of my hair, but realized it was a done deed. It was sometimes hard to know what motivated my mother. In death as in life my Dad would have no voice. I just hoped he would enjoy the short trip and my mother could take pleasure knowing they would be together one day in a pleasant spot under the trees.

Weeks later, after his move was completed, I was sitting at my computer thinking of him and missing him. I was recalling special times we had together—going for pastries and for pies at the Toddle House, the stories about Sinbad he would tell me when I was 10 and the stories he would share about the difficult early years and his army days in World War II. I remembered he would bring home donuts in the middle of the night, when I was 8, upon his return from his second job, driving a cab. I recalled all the odd and interesting investors he introduced me to, as I got older and tagged along to work, and the relationships I developed with some of them. The memories comforted me. These are the memories I prefer. I imagined my Dad now sitting in that great Toddle House in the sky, having a piece of pie looking down at all this, shaking his head, smiling and saying, “Free at last, Thank God, I am free at last,” and indulging himself in another slice of the coconut cream.

Jay S Zimmerman came to writing and poetry from his life as a visual artist, composing poems to go with his art and writing fiction and nonfiction, finding as much joy in painting with words as with other visual tools. He has recently been published in Three Line Poetry, I am not a silent poet and Flying Island. He 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 his roots have grown and been nourished for over 40 years. He is an artist, photographer, psychologist, and social justice advocate.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Puck, a poem by Chrysa Keenon

by Chrysa Keenon

Wander away with me,
Don’t let them call you back and
Take my hand, little lamb.
I can show you where the magic lies,
In the green puffs of smoke and haunting tones
Listen to me, love me,
Breathe me; 
I might 
Bite and hold firm.
But you’re mine now.
My prisoner of delight.
I can make you bloom like a flower,
Help you see galaxies untouched by mortal men
Dance with me, you will feel
No pain or worry
Inhale and
Let me into your blood
And soon you will be part of me, too.

Bio: Chrysa Keenon is a student at Taylor University, studying Professional Writing. She has been published in various newspapers and magazines, including Changes in Life, The Echo, The Fictional Cafe, and Evangelical Church Libraries. She spends the time she is not writing reading and perfecting her knitting skills.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Whose Eyes Are These?, a poem by Norbert Krapf

Whose Eyes Are These?
by Norbert Krapf

Whose eyes take me in,
in my pre-dawn study?
Where does that light in your eyes
come from, young Miss Ida?

I’m listening to a song titled
“Not Dark Yet,” but truth is,
it’s been dark a long time.
You know. You been there.

You look at me and you don’t.
You look at me, but you see
something way beyond.  Who
knows what you really see?

What you see may lie beyond you,
the history of the Pinkston Settlement
founded by your great-great-grandfather
Emanuel Pinkston, freed slave from Georgia.

One side of you was free, the other
side was a Kentucky slave. You got one
eye for each of your sides, Miss Ida.
That’s how you look at and over me

but I don’t know what you see.
Seems to me you see nothing
and everything at the same time
but I can’t see what you see in me.

Bio: Norbert Krapf, former Indiana Poet Laureate, is a Jasper, Indiana, native who lives in downtown Indianapolis. His most recent books are Catholic Boy Blues (2014) and Shrinking the Monster: Healing the Wounds of Our Abuse, a prose memoir forthcoming in fall, 2016. He held a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council Indianapolis (2011-12) and received a Glick Indiana Author Award (2014).

Editor’s note: For more information about the African American Pinkston Settlement in Dubois County, click here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Annihilation, Creative Nonfiction by Charles P. Sutphin

Annihilation by Charles P. Sutphin                                      

According to the Sufis, you need to fall in love with something without a soul in order to experience transcendence: Pursue the “hidden treasure” and you will find your god and better still—release. 

In Berkshire County in the northwest corner of Massachusetts a trail crosses a swamp that borders my yard. The circularity of the path provides a mandalaic course for me to exercise body and mind—as well as spirit: deer rustle through bracken, hemlocks whisper in the canopy as their brethren, struck and fallen, transform into dirt. Over the course of years I fell in love with a piece of wood assigned to the bottom of the forest floor.

Planks crisscross the trail and elevate hikers over water in the spring and in the fall. In original form, these pieces of wood tower toward the light, now they lie felled and carved . My board spends most of the year submerged in muck or frozen ice-tight against the earth. Damaged by the elements, the wood has suffered a midline split. Who placed the board in that location doesn’t matter, the positioning is precise. A make-shift path around a bog leads over a mound as hikers cross a lattice of limbs before quick-stepping onto the plank. Water squeezes through the crack. No time to linger: the next step lifts the hiker onto a root before a final hop onto dry terrain. The board prevents the hiker from slipping sideways into the stagnant water.

For its sacrifice I pay homage. Sometimes at night, I think about the two-by-four lying trodden in the dark. In a few years its human purpose will fade. The split dooms it to an early grave from where it will transform back to dust and maybe, just maybe, rise again through the roots of a distant cousin and strive toward the light once more before being felled and stripped. Who knows these things?
I want to assist the board achieve annihilation—undo what has been done. Next time I’m at that juncture, my boots will linger, moisture will soak through my socks, my feet will chill but the plank will find a purposeful peace beneath the ground. Only I will know the burial spot—forever and always unmarked, except by me. The board of mind will find release and someday so shall I—I used to be a fern, now I’m a pile of dirt: I sleep better in repose, as does the one for which I write this . . . farewell lament.

Charlie Sutphin is a long-time Indianapolis resident and big fan of the Indiana Writers Center, formerly the Writers’ Center of Indiana, formerly the Writers’ Center of Indianapolis. He appreciates Julianna Thibodeaux for her patience in helping him bring “Annihilation” to fruition.