Monday, August 14, 2017

Goodwill, a poem by Marjie Giffin


is scattered all over the canopied bay
among the trampled cardboard boxes
and crumpled bags and soggy sheets.
A young, moody-faced teen languishes
on the curb, nodding when spoken to
but not answering my motion for help.
Figures, I think, cursing lazy youth,
as I trot to the back of my car and heave
up the hatch and begin loading my arms
with all the added goodwill I can muster:
baubles that came from Macy’s, canisters
that once spilled out Gold Medal flour,
baby dolls that were kissed and held.
No time for sentiment; tepid rain drips
from the awning and pools on cracked,
uneven cement. The scent of moldy
cast-offs mixes with the mustiness
of tentative, springtime rain. A sack
of Christmas candies catches the eye
of the non-attentive teen; May I?
his eyes seem to ask. I toss it to him
like a bridal bouquet. In the rearview
mirror as I pull away, I see him grinning
as he digs in the crinkly silver sack.

Marjie Giffin

About the poet: “I am an Indianapolis writer who has recently been published in Poetry Quarterly, Flying Island, Snapdragon, Words and Sounds, and in a teaching anthology. I am active with the Indiana Writers Center and participate in many workshops.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

In Red's Juke Joint in Clarksdale, a poem by Norbert Krapf

In Red's Juke Joint in Clarksdale
by Norbert Krapf

In Red's juke joint they play the blues
after the sun don't shine. The notes
they play are blue but the ones plugged in
on the wall glow red and the beer bottles

Red sells from behind the bar are cold and brown.
A small river flows behind the old building
and in front stands a cut barrel in which meat smokes.
Between the river and the smoke the blues cook

all night long and the beer flows as slow and long
as the river don't stop. People come to sit
on bar stools and chairs and listen to the blues
nights the way they come to sit in pews in church

Sunday mornings and in Red's and in the church
the music is about the same though some people
say the music in the juke joint comes from the Devil
and in church it comes from God. My ears tell me

the music in Red's is the call and response of the Devil
and God talkin' together and the people listen
the same whether the smoke comes from a candle
or meat and all the singing sounds sacred.

About the poet: Former Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf's most recent poetry collection is Catholic Boy Blues, which was followed by the related prose memoir Shrinking the Monster, winner of an Illumination Book Award and finalist for an INDIES Award. Forthcoming is a collection of poems about his grandson (almost three), Cheerios in Tuscany. Norbert co-facilitates a workshop with Liza Hyatt, Bless This Mess: Writing About Difficult Relationships. For more, see

Monday, July 31, 2017

Going Deaf, a poem by Mary M. Brown

Going Deaf
by Mary M. Brown

For a while it’s mostly bliss,
swimming a lovely, negotiable
lake, the hush of small fish,

or like resting inside a shell,
a turtle, a nutmeat, a swaddled
babe, pacified and riding

the sweet blurry line between
stillness and sleep. But later
you wonder whether the lake

is a roiling ocean you are
alone in with sharks, other
predators, and water pressure

or a kind of padded cell, you
the slow prisoner who wonders
if anyone else will show up

to bring you poetry or mass or
whatever you yearn for—a bible,
cigarettes, kisses, a knife in a cake.

About the poet: Mary M. Brown lives with her husband, Bill, in Anderson, Indiana. She’s a Hoosier not by birth but by long residence and disposition, and she enjoys proximity to all six of her grandchildren. Retired now, 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, Flying Island, and Justice Journal.

Silent, a poem by Nicole Amsler

by Nicole Amsler

My skeletal fingers tent over my chest
A makeshift cage for my aching, thrumming heart
Pain can still slide in
Like a fume, a moth, miasma
But my fingers clench, at the ready
To beat back that which threatens.
Futile dispersion.

But they do not reach, do not beckon, call
They do not beseech or even pray.
My hands only bear witness, gnarled and still.
They do not speak the anguish
Instead words perish, congealed and unknowable
A barnacle, a lesion, an ectopic pearl
The unspoken, Brailled in scar tissue.

From Nicole Amsler: Seldom a poet, I write stunningly dull marketing copy as my day job and magical realism fiction at night. I am a writer conference groupie, a middle aged cosplayer, and a book pimp. I've moved eleven times in my 20+ year marriage and Indiana is the only place I've lived twice.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Pale Horse, a poem by Alex Schnur

The Pale Horse
by Alex Schnur

Death comes not upon a pale horse,
but riding on a blood clot,
prowling through an artery.

It hides in piles of filth
and the insides of microbes,
on the wings of birds
and the dust of a coal mine.

Death waits in the wings of our vices,
swirling in the bottoms of bottles
perched upon cigarettes
packed into pills
dripping from needles
and homogenized into trash food.

It lurks in the oceans,
both the shallows and the depths.
It waits on the mountains,
in both snow and stone.

Sometimes death takes to stage
and you see it coming,
as fast or as slow as it likes.

Other times death is a thief,
quick as lightning,
and before you can hear the thunder
your life is gone.

About the poet: Alex Schnur is currently working to achieve a bachelor's degree in English from Indiana University - Purdue University Columbus, with a concentration in creative writing. He only refers to himself in third-person for the purpose of crafting biographical statements.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Stella Rosa, a poem by Chrysa Keenon

Stella Rosa
by Chrysa Keenon

Why does the poison
Make my words flow easier?
The burn through my veins is like
the lightning of God
cursing me with the pain all humanity has wrought
I hate the feeling
but the elixir makes me see stars
Dancing across my skin, like when you’re around.
If I could touch one, I would
crush it into my bones
and make it part of me, not letting it
flow away in the morning
like my dreams of you.

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.

shots found, a poem by Kristine Esser Slentz

shots found
by Kristine Esser Slentz

i found you in shot glasses dotting the dark wood of an irish pub bar; sadly, among the tiny cup wreckage you couldn’t find me.

About the poet: Kristine Esser Slentz is originally from northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area, accent and all. She is a Purdue University alum that studied English literature and creative writing while working at the independent student newspaper, The Exponent. After college Kristine has written pieces in publications such as the HuffPost; Pattern; and Nuvo, Indy’s Alternative Voice. Currently, Kristine is the Assistant Editor at Unfold and has published poetry in Sweater Weather Magazine and The Unprecedented Review.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Violets, a poem by Rebecca Berry

by Rebecca Berry

When I pull off my shirt I see it again

Flowers blooming

Violets, always violets

No daisies or sun flowers

Just violets that whisper


Just violets from you

So dark, round and often misshapen

Tattooed over my breastbone

To the small of my back

And the crevice of my hips

Always nesting like a tiny bird

Some days it’s just the one

Curled up tight into the crook of my arm

Where I barely notice

Other days it’s like my body is a field

Where you scattered those dark blossoms

You never asked me if I wanted them

Never told me where you’d inherited yours

But I promise I will try to keep them

And not let them spread to someone else’s skin.

Rebecca Berry: “I am originally from Indianapolis. I graduated from Earlham College last year with a bachelors in Comparative Languages and Linguistics. After graduating I devoted a year of service with an AmeriCorps program, and since have been devoting my time to beginning my career as a writer.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Nikumaroro, a poem by Andrew Chapman

for HRC

by Andrew Chapman

Sand and salt, no 
landing strip to speak
of little girls in goggles,
they waited, they still do.

400 miles short, horizon 
won’t reveal the sun 
boils, spits bitterness, 
leaks gas on the 

sand. Faded photos, un-
built statues fill fake 
memories, we wrote down 
too soon.

What remained you 
gave to the crabs, buried
nothing for us to find, to
point out and say was yours.

Monday, June 26, 2017

First to Arrive, a poem by Roger Pfingston

First to Arrive
Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center/Bloomington, IN

by Roger Pfingston

First to arrive, he sits listening to the building,
the irregular ticks and hums, the occasional snap
like something contracting under winter’s grip

on this June night. It feels good, this aloneness
with warped wood floors, limestone walls.
He begins to take on a kind of ownership,

as if he could be where he wants when he wants
in this building, huge with friendly indifference,
letting him sit and be at the top of the stairs,

no voice but his outside the dark room
that becomes whatever others need it to be,
Terpsichore being tonight’s honored guest.

Bio: A retired teacher of English and photography, Roger Pfingston is the recipient of a
Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two PEN
Syndicated Fiction Awards. He has poems in recent issues of Poet Lore, Spoon River
Poetry Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and U.S. 1 Worksheets. New poems are scheduled to
appear in Poetry East and Hamilton Stone Review. His chapbook, A Day Marked for Telling, is
available from Finishing Line Press.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Kroger, Bloomington IN (August 2015), a poem by Hiromi Yoshida

Kroger, Bloomington IN (August 2015)
by Hiromi Yoshida

Bike rush to Kroger—
in my employee-discounted Indiana University fitness leggings and Target
sports bra—for $4.99 Barefoot Pinot Grigio and possibly sushi (only if 1 pkg costs less than $6.00)—culminated in braking @ the bike rack before a window glass reflection that was narcissistically pleasing

wind blowing long fine hair in one direction—freshly shampooed and
conditioned with Matrix Biolage hair care products, styled by Connie @ Perfect Illusion—I felt like a supermodel (despite my XS petite size)—the sun and the wind and my strength merging and coursing through my caffeine-fueled body in one powerful surge—pulsating outwardly from sun-saturated bodywashed pores… Directly juxtaposed with this glass reflection just around the

redbrick corner with the sign reading:


solidly stood a woman with chunky ankles, askew skirts, wispy faded hair pulled back in a slovenly ponytail, whose gaze met mine quite inadvertently behind my Nine West shades (exorbitant plexiglass barrier between ourselves). I U-locked my Trek bike:

the woman seemed like she wanted to shrink into herself—possibly disappear around some remote corner that only she could access—where she could loiter or panhandle for a sympathetic smile without adverse repercussion. And indeed she did

(disappear) the moment I looked up from my U-lock—an unlikely grey specter in the south side of Bloomington, Indiana—as improbable as my own reflected window glass self—shimmering arbitrary fragments of economic value that can never really add up.

Bio: Hiromi Yoshida has been described as one of Bloomington’s “finest and most outspoken poets” by Tony Brewer, Chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington, Indiana. Her poems have been published in The Asian American Literary Review, Indiana Voice Journal, Evergreen Review, and The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society.

The Rabbit, a poem by Hiromi Yoshida

The Rabbit
by Hiromi Yoshida

How did the rabbit cease
to be just a rabbit? After all, it wasn’t pulled out of
some spuriously glittering magician’s hat
to begin with. Instead, it

evolved into a furry little carcass on the sidewalk of E. Atwater Ave. across from my house—speckled with buzzing flies in the noonday sun. It

then became a sooty viscous mess—oozing blood and stench in 90° F heat, an
environmental hazard for the City of Bloomington’s
sanitation department to clean up.

By the third day since its discovery,
(possibly) it had melted into the sidewalk—an elongated black pancake
of visceral goo (surely, I was disinclined to confirm its decomposition status
despite my intensely voyeuristic curiosity).

By day five or six,
(possibly) it was a dark viscous stain like treacle or molasses—
or a sticky shadow etched upon the sidewalk—in either case, a hairy
furtive thing projected from my abjection-prone mind in the thick humid

And perhaps because only I knew that once upon a time it was
a rabbit—a shadow that had returned permanently to the conjuring
magician’s glittering hat, a stinky epiphany,
Rabbit in Paradise (R.I.P.).

Bio: Hiromi Yoshida has been described as one of Bloomington’s “finest and most outspoken poets” by Tony Brewer, Chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington, Indiana. Her poems have been published in The Asian American Literary Review, Indiana Voice Journal, Evergreen Review, and The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Furrows, a poem by Doris Lynch

by Doris Lynch

"The plowers plowed…they made long their furrows."   Psalm 129:3
Where will I sleep
in the furrows of death?

Will I find a dove willing to pillow
my cheek against its soft down?

If only the sun-patterned grasses
might curry my bare arms and legs.

This burrow, this shaped hummock,
will it provide a clear view of sky?

What of those clouds racing past--
are they too fleet for shrouds?

Where will I sleep
in the furrows of death?

What will I cling to? Root,
barnacle, rock face?

Piercing the hard soil,
will clods of earth block

my passage? Will my body find
its way? Find sanctuary, shelter?

Doris Lynch has work recently in the Tipton Poetry Review, 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, June 5, 2017

Three farm wife poems by Shari Wagner

Three farm wife poems by Shari Wagner

The farm wife describes meeting her husband
at a “walk-a-mile”—a Mennonite dating game

The last light was touching the tassels
when the quiet boy from Emma Church

tapped the guy with his eye on college
and told him to move forward five couples.

That’s how I met Pete. From the soft way
he scuffed the gravel and whistled

to a red-winged blackbird, I could tell
he wasn’t the sort to shoot the starlings

or tell me how to keep my house.
Not like the boys who talked to be talking

and walked so close they almost pushed me
in the ditch. When Lu Miller told me,

Move back nine,” I did with regret
but tagged her back when the next girl said,

Go forward four,” and I added five.
It was cheating, but that’s how you knew

someone liked you—when they came back.
At Fly Creek, cicadas were clicking

and swallows brushed the darkness
with their wings. Or maybe they were bats.

Pete and I dropped back and stood at the railing
to hear the frogs. It was dark enough

he could ask if I had plans for next evening
and I slid my hand in his. Our grandkids laugh

when I say they should walk-a-mile.
When they like someone, they text

and call that dating, though they might be
a hundred miles apart.

The farm wife remembers the funerals she presided over

While Dad hitched the trailer,
I’d lead my sisters to the special pen
and say, “Dearly beloved,
we are gathered to bless this calf
before he goes to market.”

We each said something pleasant
about his brown eyes
and thick lashes,
his earnest tongue licking our hands.

By the time they started school,
my sisters threw their kisses,
like passengers aboard a ship.

One chilly day, even a stick
of chewing gum
couldn’t bribe them to the barn.

I poured the extra measure
of grain into the bin,
then stood alone with my bible,
looking into soft eyes
that had never seen or blinked at evil.
For the last time, I sang,
Children of the Heavenly Father.

It was snowing when I left.

The wind blew flakes into my face
and stung my eyes.

The farm wife ponders her mother’s cookbook

I cook by heart, adding more of this, less
of that, but Mom, bless her soul, never strayed
from The Mennonite Community Cookbook.
Among the pages, I find slick pamphlets
she picked up at church: Golden Hours
with the Bible, The Most Costly Gift,
Where Will You Be Five Minutes After You Die?
No wonder she complained of insomnia.
She never wrote “delicious” or “wonderful”
in the margins, only the same refrain: “Tried”
and “Tried.” But I can tell that she favored
something sweet by where the splatters fell.

Shari Wagner is the author of two books of poetry, The Harmonist at Nightfall: Poems of Indiana and Evening Chore. She is the Indiana Poet Laureate for 2016-2017.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Buckskin, Indiana, a poem by Roger Pfingston

Buckskin, Indiana
by Roger Pfingston

Back home after walking the creek,
he sits with toast
and a mug of coffee,
              a blue
morning:  how it
lifted at his approach,
leading him on,
indulging his presence with a slow wing spread,

the short
repeated flights
to the water’s edge,

until he turned back,
the heron knowing more than he could follow,

the window now, framing the steady gaze,
the fenced-in beauty of horses.

Bio: A retired teacher of English and photography, Roger Pfingston is the recipient of a
Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two PEN
Syndicated Fiction Awards. He has poems in recent issues of Poet Lore, Spoon River
Poetry Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and U.S. 1 Worksheets. New poems are scheduled to
appear in Poetry East and Hamilton Stone Review. His chapbook, A Day Marked for Telling, is
available from Finishing Line Press.

Any Place Called Home, a poem by Rosemary Freedman

Any Place Called Home
by Rosemary Freedman

Once, driving to my childhood home,
I looked around at the old neighborhood and
I felt ashamed.

My mother, who had raised seven children,
was alone in her back room
the wallpaper peeling away, and because she had been
successful at making successful
children, I asked- "Why do you stay here?"

"This is my home where I've lived for fifty years.
This is where I feel comfortable," she answered.
Then I imagined,
children in huts, children in trailers,
in doubles, in projects, in caves.
Any place called home-
We share the same sky-
and the same sun.

Suddenly I became a little girl
playing in the rain with these other children
from all of these other places.
Our toothless smiles faced the sky,
reluctant all -
to come in from this Baptism spontaneous.

Our laughter blending like a symphony
With arms outstretched to a God that washed us all
with the same water.

I looked at my mother-
and her wisdom warmed me like the
ancient familiar cover she was wrapped in.
Comfort spilled off of her, leaving me a bit uncomfortable.
I drove toward my new neighborhood
feeling ashamed.

From Rosemary Freeman: "I am married and have seven children. I have a B.A. in creative writing and literature, and a master's in nursing education, a post-masters as a nurse practitioner and a post-masters as a clinical nurse specialist. I enjoy gardening, painting and karaoke."

The house next door, a poem by T.D. Richards

The house next door

was lifeless until yesterday when I saw
a family of raccoons. The old man and his
skinny dog who lived there before-- left
without closing the front door and no one
has seen them since. A fellow across the
street who wears thick glasses swears he
saw the old man in the Walmart Parking
Lot on Main Street the rainy night the door
was left wide open. He was singing loudly
pushing a cart filled with cases of dog food.
The paper boy says he’s owed five months
delivery and the mail lady says she can’t put
any more mail in the box and oh, by the way,
someone should return the checks sent the
old man from Social Security.

by T.D. Richards

From T.D. Richards: “After a career in corrections, Tom Richards began taking poetry classes at the Indiana Writers Center. In 2013, he published a collection of poems, This Side and That. He lives in central Indiana with his wife.”