Monday, October 29, 2018

It's Later Than You Think, a poem by Michelle Brooks

It’s Later than You Think
by Michelle Brooks

There is the reflection of a rainbow
in the Rent to Own window, and puddles
have formed in the holes dotting the parking
lot, the water streaked with rainbows made
of gasoline, and I try to remember what I need
for tomorrow’s work party as I roam the Dollar
General. I grab a bag of pretzels and think,
This is my dinner and all the while, other lives
play out around me. A teenager tells her friend,
I can’t believe Halloween is tomorrow, and I don’t
know what I’m going to be. I wasn’t anything last
year. A man asks his wife, Do you think the rain
has stopped? She doesn’t look at him, only
says, I sure fucking hope so. It’s depressing.

After loading my basket with paper plates
adorned with skulls and witches, I get in line,
looking down while the young couple in front of me
buys a pregnancy test and a bag of Cheetos,
the woman counting out change from a tiny
purse embossed with stars. The cashier, a middle-aged
woman with Bitch tattooed on her neck asks me
if I found what I needed. I nod and say yes, thinking
does anyone? The cashier leans close, warns me
that a man has been following me around the aisles
and asks if I want security to walk me out. I thank her,
saying I’ll make a run for it, as I gather up my bags.
The rain has started again. I glance back, relieved
no one is following me, noticing the sign festooned
over the door, Spooky Savings Inside, as if I wouldn’t know.

Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, (Storylandia Press). She says she spent a summer in Gary with a now ex- boyfriend. She says she loves Gary, even as the boyfriend did not fare as well. A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult life in Detroit.

Monday, October 22, 2018

One Hundred Years Ago, a poem by Henry Ahrens

One Hundred Years Ago
by Henry Ahrens

The government mail wagon,
like an upright coffin,
brought influenza to our town
one hundred years ago.

We couldn’t hold our breath
forever, the will to live brought death,
a gurgling gasping for air,
no relief anywhere,
hospitals with winding sheets white
and toe tags for patients to die,
vaccines grasping and no more effective
than garlic sacks around our necks.

October came full fear of fall,
steam shovels dug trenches for all,
a mound of corpses deep in ground,
one hundred years ago.

Henry Ahrens attended St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana, but now resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he teaches a variety of high school English classes. His works have appeared in From the Edge of the Prairie, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Indiana Voice Journal.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Snow White: The Real Story, a poem by Karen Fried

Snow White: The Real Story
by Karen Fried

Pure as the driven snow,” so they thought.
All day long, I cook and clean up their mess.
Shifty, Stupid, Dumpy, Frumpy, Loser, Smoker
and Late to dinner are turning my hair gray.
I could wring my lovely stepmother’s neck! Hi ho, hi ho,
out the door you go with a shove shove here and
a shove shove there. What I wouldn’t give to slip
a cigarette in my ruby red lips. If this forest had a little
sun, I wouldn’t have to endure this creamy white
complexion. Oh, an old woman in rags begging at my door.
Get off my porch! I don’t want your rotten apple. Here’s one
for you. Bull's-eye!

Now about that perfect prince,
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
He snores, throws his royal robes
on the frozen stone floor
and never cleans up after his horses.
He also never stokes
my fire, if you get my drift.

From Karen Fried:I was born in Indianapolis and have lived here most of my life.”

Monday, October 8, 2018

River That Never Ran, a poem by Mary M. Brown

River That Never Ran
by Mary M. Brown

I remember the river that never ran
beside our house, the little boat we
never owned, never rowed,
the willows
that never swayed, dogwoods
that never bloomed. I remember
the bedroom I never shared with a sister

I never loved, the porch where we never
giggled together until deep dusk
when we never chased fireflies,
never whispered secrets until dreams
drifted toward dawn. I remember
a sky that never held white clouds
that billowed above a field
of violets
and button bush that never took root
and where the old dog we never named
Bligh ran wild through the tall grass
that never grew.

I remember the fence we never climbed,
the little bridge at the end of the dirt road
we never traveled, the way our granddad

never held out his arms so we could come
running to him, breathless and laughing
the way we always never did,
the way we
never needed anything else, never
anything more.

From Mary Brown: “I live and write in Anderson where I am retired after teaching creative writing and literature at Indiana Wesleyan University for thirty years.”

Monday, October 1, 2018

"Like Memories in Mid-Air" and "You Give Them a Cookie ...," poems by Frederick Michaels

Like Memories In Mid-Air
by Frederick Michaels

We have grown to be so old
(right before our very eyes),
yet, despite the years compiled,
not emerged as very wise.

We let time just melt away,
pass right by without disguise.
In a steady drip of hours,
years have dematerialized.

We’re like footprints we impress
into freshly fallen snow,
leading backward through our past
There’s no better place to go.

What we are, or might become,
none can tell and none can know,
as our tracks begin to vanish,
oft times fast, sometimes slow.

And the snowflakes fall like memories in mid air,
concealing lives which were not really there.

You Give Them A Cookie ...
by Frederick Michaels

Deer crowd into my doorway,
peering right into my kitchen
like a posed Norman Rockwell,
but with a plaintive, hungry gaze.

A doe and three curious fawns,
in great Halloween costumes.
Kids have a dumbfounded look
as mom ventures inward alone.

I imagine a proper British accent.
It just seems so very appropriate.
Might I trouble you for snacks?
The family and I are famished!”

The siren call of baking cookies
has summoned their arrival,
overcome their survival instincts
and fear of a fur-less, upright man.

Woodland visitors are infrequent,
so I’m grateful for the intrusion.
A plate wafting scents of vanilla
tempts the fawns to join mother.

Baked offerings fully consumed,
all but the mother scamper out
like children do at a recess bell,
anxious to be first for hopscotch.

The doe strides towards the door,
parading head high, then stops,
sighs “next time, tea please” and
exits proudly, like a grande dame.

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, The Australian Times and Lone Stars magazine, among others. A number of his poems appear in the Reckless Writing 2012 and 2013 anthologies (Chatter House Press, Indianapolis), Naturally Yours (Stacy Savage and Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff, printed in Charleston, S.C., 2013), Words and Other Wild Things (Brick Street Poetry, Zionsville, Ind., 2016), and Paw Prints in Verse (Stacy Savage, printed in Lexington, Ky., 2017). His first collection of poems, Potholes In The Universe, was published in 2016 by Chatter House Press, Indianapolis. An engineer by training, Michaels has always been pulled to the side of the arts by his love of language. He would say that the words are always there, they just need to be put in the proper order.