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

The Farm Wife, a poem by Shari Wagner

The Farm Wife, a poem 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.