She Named This Drawing for Me by Cathleen Cohen

She Named This Drawing for Me

For Tilda

She drove a block to my backyard, having lost
her zest for weighty easels and oils.
Chemo drained her

so she brought a thin pad and array
of micron pens, said she was reclaiming
her old practice of making artists’ books,

which her daughter glued together
with archival paper. Pale as paper,
she perched on a bench

and mapped the landscape:
overgrown hedge and trellis,
empty of clematis.

Such elegant blue lines.
She wasn’t sure if her strength
would last all afternoon.

I asked how she knew
where to start her compositions.
Plucking green from her bouquet of pens,

she said… one spot
that catches the eye,
that’s pleasing.

This thermos on the picnic table,
this bright woven carry-all
shouting to be orange.

That day, she stayed
only an hour and now
I own this drawing,

filled with grace and elegant lines,
with everything we said
and didn’t say.

*

Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. A painter and teacher, she founded the We the Poets program at ArtWell, an arts education non-profit in Philadelphia (www.theartwell.org). Her poems appear in Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, North of Oxford, Passager, One Art Poetry, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review, Rogue Agent, Camera Obscura (Moonstone Press, 2017) and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press, 2021).

Obedience School by Kristin Garth

Obedience School

I’m there that day you send the last away
with nipping needle teeth, she may outgrow
one day — the half-hearted sobriquet
uttered as you latch her last leash then go.
She was the favored younger child
who never returned, I know, because she growled
and made you bleed, transmogrified wild
by desperate need. She recedes, uncowed,
from your conditioned world where I live on,
the educated girl determined, even
when disciplined, that my denouement
will find me licking at your feet again
while you ponder whether you have grown cruel.
It is a word unlearned at obedience school.

*

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 21 books of poetry including Crow Carriage (Sweet Tooth Story Books) and The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and the editor of seven anthologies. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Two Poems by Kari Gunter-Seymour

Because Autumn Always Clotheslines Me

Already the sumac—ripened,
rusty red leaves, stark among the greens.
Not yet, I say. I say it every August,
though leafy lime katydids warn me,
chameleoned against the Japanese maples,
suddenly out-singing even the cicadas.
Stink bugs feast in the garden, a melancholy
thistle bends to a rumor of breeze.

*

Power Out on the Mountain

I started out this day elbowing
my grandmother’s forget-me-not
teacup off the counter beside the sink.
Sobbed as I swept a million jagged
memories, scattered across the kitchen floor.

Now my feet up, a glass of sweet tea,
I watch birds at the feeder.
A quarrel of house sparrows peck
at the smalls, gorge themselves on seed,
as if they deserve to.

I once told my grandmother a rich man
hurt me. Her bent head told me
to keep that story to myself.
I revisit what it means to be ruined
over and over in my sleep, imagine ways
to dismember him, as if that might help
glue my own broken pieces back together.

*

Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, winner of the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award and Serving. Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications including Poem-A-Day, Verse Daily, Rattle, World Literature Today, The NY Times, and on her website: www.karigunterseymourpoet.com. A ninth generation Appalachian, she is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) and editor of the WOAP anthology series, Women Speak. She is a recipient of a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship and Poet Laureate of Ohio.

THE WINDOW SHADE by J.R. Solonche

THE WINDOW SHADE

I had a neighbor once who was a psychologist.
His office was in his house. It faced the road,
so it was easy for his neighbors like me to see
through the window. Whenever he had a new
patient, the very first thing he did was ask if
the patient wanted the shade up or down. He
said this immediately gave him the first glimpse
into the patient’s psyche. If the patient wanted
the shade up, he was probably dealing with an
extrovert, an exhibitionist of some kind. If the
patient wanted the shade down, he knew he had
an introvert, or worse, on his hands. In any case,
a patient with something to hide. I started to tell
him something. That when I walk on the road
at night, all the shades are up. Except the office
shade, which is down. I changed my mind and
didn’t mention it. No need to complicate matters.

*

Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY Orange, J.R. Solonche has published poetry in more than 500 magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s, including The New Criterion, The New York Times, The American Scholar, The Progressive, Poetry Northwest, Salmagundi, The Literary Review, The Sun, The American Journal of Poetry, Poet Lore, Poetry East, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Free Verse. He is the author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today and Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), True Enough (Dos Madres Press), The Jewish Dancing Master (Ravenna Press), If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (Kelsay Books), In a Public Place (Dos Madres Press), To Say the Least (Dos Madres Press), The Time of Your Life (Adelaide Books), The Porch Poems (Deerbrook Editions , 2020 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie Book), Enjoy Yourself (Serving House Books), Piano Music (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Serving House Books), For All I Know (Kelsay Books), A Guide of the Perplexed (Serving House Books), The Moon Is the Capital of the World (WordTech Communications), Years Later (Adelaide Books), The Dust (Dos Madres Press), Selected Poems 2002-2021 (nominated for the National Book Award by Serving House Books), and coauthor with his wife Joan I. Siegel of Peach Girl:Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

Chiaroscuro by Nathaniel Gutman

Chiaroscuro

Mother. Weimar-style hat, face veil.
Grandfather, moustache, cigarette, papillon tie.

They pose like silent movie stars,
radiant in noir, golden-age lighting,
sepia portraits on large cotton rag sheets,
frosted silk flaps on top.
Life will never end, right?

Mother derides nostalgia: Want the photos?
Cousin David, the cardiologist, took them.

She digs out a snapshot on smaller, matte paper:
Mother, laughing, in a Tel Aviv café,
white shirt, khakis, sunglasses.
David. On a visit, 1936.

Flat, he complained, no contrast, no chiaroscuro.
Middle Eastern sun. Unforgiving blaze.

She puts them back in the worn leather folder: Here, take them.

Cousin David is gone, she says: Gone back home, to Berlin.

Gone back home, to Berlin, he couldn’t find himself here.
Gone back home, to Berlin, he loved so much.
Gone back home to Berlin and hanged himself.

*

Nathaniel Gutman is a filmmaker who has directed and/or written over 30 theatrical/TV movies and documentaries internationally, including award-winning Children’s Island (BBC, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel), Witness in the Warzone (with Christopher Walken), Linda (from the novella by John D. MacDonald; with Virginia Madsen). His poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tiferet Journal, Pangyrus, LitMag, Constellations, The American Journal of Poetry.

Restoration by Danielle Lemay

Restoration

Some spouses enjoy the fast break and then
a three-point shot in basketball; mine loves to watch
antique restoration shows. Today, we endure
the disassembling, cleaning, and rebuilding
of a vintage grape press. Skill marries patience
to unscrew each odd piece from the rusted hulk,
soak in chemicals, inspect, then scrape and peel
off specs of rust like culling extra words
or stanzas. Arduous, yet delicate, we whittle,
then build again, grease the pieces, oil the joints,
shine the exposed. We work at what we love
until it feels whole, glistens, and moves anew.

*

Danielle Lemay is a poet and scientist. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net in 2021 and has appeared or is forthcoming in Limp Wrist Magazine, Lavender Review, and elsewhere. She lives in central California with her wife, two children, and six chickens.

Two Poems by Linda Blaskey

Vulpecula: Little Fox Constellation

This morning, a crippled fox, by parasite or car impact,
I don’t know, pulled its hindquarters to the center
of the east pasture.

I herded the dying creature, with my pickup, out of the field
into its natal forest where it curled under a tree.

It staggered and I could have (or should have?) crushed it
with the truck’s tires or beaten it with the flat back of a shovel head,

but elected to leave it to the comfort of familiarity.
I turned the truck and drove away; released
the horses to gallop circles on this ground now changed.

A man I know who farms the next field over, would have cursed
the fox, would have drawn pistol and bullet. But I choose the word
stewardship for what I do. What I have done. (What have I done?)

At the table, the rest of the house sleeping,
I shave off a curl of bitter cheese, eat a cold plum.

Cassiopeia in her chair, doomed for her eternity
to contemplate her mistakes, hovers over the woods.

Deeper still, in space, the small constellation attached
to no myth will pulse briefly tonight with added lumens

though no one will see its effort for over 300 light years
and then only through the mirrored assist of an astronomer’s scope.

*

Killing Horses

We choose words more comfortable.

Euthanize. Put down. Put to sleep.

But kill is the word. Single syllabic. Hard.

A slug of phenobarb plunged into the vein nestled in the jugular’s groove.

Sometimes if they are down when the bolus hits their heart, they stand.

Those magnificent muscles full of memory bring them to their feet.

Then the collapse, the vet saying stand back, stand back.

              Kill: Etymology: Old English cwellan (to murder, execute).

The vet draws up the syringe, says it’s hard to lose the good ones.

I stroke the familiar of his chestnut coat, then walk away.

              Abandon: Etymology: Middle English forleven (to leave behind).

This is too large a death to witness.

*

Linda Blaskey (she/her) is the recipient of two Fellowship Grants in Literature from Delaware Division of the Arts. She is poetry/interview editor emerita for Broadkill Review, is coordinator for the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, and current editor at Quartet. Her work has been selected for inclusion in Best New Poets, and for the North Carolina Poetry on the Bus project. She is author of the chapbook, Farm, the full-length collection, White Horses, and co-author of Walking the Sunken Boards.

She grew up in Kansas and Arkansas and now lives in Delaware.

Cycles by Carolyn Martin

Cycles

A sunny afternoon with Aimless Love on the patio
and a shepherd pup whining through the backyard fence.
She’s not amused I boarded up the slats she wiggled through
all week. The divots in the lawn, the pawed-through flower beds,
the fur caught on jagged wood annoyed. Anyway, I was about
to say before the dog butted in, it only takes one
Collins poem to set me off. Yesterday, “The Revenant.”
Today, “More Than a Woman” and I’m back to the NJ night
my Polish aunt slapped my twelve-year-old face. A reminder,
she said. Of what? I raged as she grabbed her cigarette and flicked
its growing ash. To be a woman, she inhaled my eyes, means
a life of pain. From across the dining room, Our first-blood ritual:
my mother’s only words as she wiped her hands of violence
I needed rescue from. I slammed my bedroom door and flung
red-spotted underwear across the room. And this was it: the start
of years plowing through closets and drawers, disavowing
dresses/stockings/girdles/make-up/heat-curled hair and facing
off taunting boys who couldn’t beat me on baseball fields;
of decades redefining cycles borne down centuries, composing
I’m more than a woman to me. I snap the book shut
and shout this anthem to the slanting sun.

*

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 135 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments, was released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. More at www.carolynmartinpoet.com.

Two Poems by Hilary Sideris

Dust

Night comes faster in September
when the bank is on the phone
& I’m explaining again how

my New York Sports Club closed,
how I stopped leaving home, how hard
I tried to end my membership.

By now I’m yelling across the world
at an associate who says I understand,
so sorry to hear, like all HSBC

associates before & after her. In sleep
I grind my teeth to fine powder,
dreaming of bodies in the towers,

pulverized as each floor fell
on the one below. I watch it all
crumble on hold while

my associate contacts Disputes,
the narrow downtown streets,
survivors fleeing like ghosts

through clouds, even the leggy
mannequins in Wall Street
shops hip deep in it.

*

Cuddlebuddy

You tested positive:
we live in separate rooms.

My mother emails shit
about her OurTime date

who wants a cuddlebuddy.
Sprawled on the damp

loveseat with brain fog,
you take calls from Scam

Likely, watch a spotted
ocelot catch river rats, say

It’s unfair, you get the bed,
but you have the remote.

*

Hilary Sideris’s poems have appeared in recent issues of The American Journal of Poetry, Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Free State Review, Poetry Daily, Rhino, Room, Salamander, and Sixth Finch, among others. She is the author most recently of Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay Books 2019), The Silent B (Dos Madres Press 2019), and Animals in English, poems after Temple Grandin (Dos Madres Press 2020).