Loggerheads by Carol Sadtler

Loggerheads

Her wide-stance waddle
her forward head with tiny
eyes—who would not
want to meet her
on the beach? Flippers

guided by the tides
and an ancient algorithm,
she mates in surf, drags
her heavy carapace
ashore to bury new

generations begun
60 million years since—
only to be undone
by condos and chemicals
brought by a recent species—

invasive, careless and deadly—
a blip in the grand scuffle—
but for now, carretta carretta
let’s swim in a watery
slipstream, my breaststroke

matching yours in your
warm lightgreen world
where we pretend our
children’s children will not
miss this.

*

Carol Sadtler is a poet, writer and editor whose recent poems and reviews appear in Writers Resist, The Inflectionist, Sky Island Journal, The Humanist, RHINO Poetry, Bangalore Review, Pacific Review, and other publications. She lives in Chicago with her family.

Nightfall by Samuel Strathman

Nightfall

Tonight is for forgetting.

Rushing into the black-lit apartment,
closing the door,
missing the light
every time I go
for the switch.

Where could it be?

It was on the side here –

Darkness threatens
to stare me stiff.

I just had it –

the full-length mirror
is a pale angel.

Windows clear.
No noises –

and just when all
feels safe
my hand is swallowed
by night.

*

Samuel Strathman is a poet, author, educator, and the founder/editor-in-chief of Floodlight Editions.

Three Poems by Andrea Potos

TRYING TO TEACH MY MOTHER TO CROCHET

I wanted something for her hands–
the dusky blue crochet hook I bought for her
and blue acrylic yarn the color
of the Greek sea near the long ago
city of her birth.

She didn’t ask for this lesson.
In her steady kindness, she went along
with me, trying to match her fingers
to the flow of looping yarn.
I worried she wouldn’t continue
when her mind told her
she needed another cigarette,

though the cancer had already set in both lungs
and her treatment begun. I never considered
how she might want to live her last months or years
doing what gave her balm, the familiar comfort
to inhale, taste and release a swirling elegance
of smoke. All I knew was my own need
to halt what had already begun, to keep her
present and seamlessly shawled around us.

*

WIG SHOPPING WITH MOM

Though after five months of chemo, her hair
was only thinned a little,
she had a free wig coming,
the nurse said. We visited the room
of floor-to-ceiling shelves: mannequin
heads, and baskets of scarves and wraps.
Mom settled in; we giggled, comparing
thoughts as she smiled for my cellphone camera:
dark auburn with short curls, layered
brunette waves, medium shaggy, sideways parts;
one wig with streaks of silver like surprise hints of lightning.
In no rush to agree on the one and decide,
we wanted to stay in that brief clearing
of complimentary joy. We never even considered
choosing anything other than hope.

*

CREATING

I think of my Yaya, all those hours
at her Singer sewing machine,
or sitting with her skeins of yarn,
or the thimble on her finger as she
basted and lined
the pleats of the drapes,
the hems of the dresses and skirts and coats,
as she embroidered the doilies and linens,
the pillowcases and sheets.

All I have are my pens, scatterings
of dark blue or black, sometimes purple
or green, depending on the mood,
hoping my hand aligns somehow with hers as
I make small stitches of words across paper
that, sometimes, feels like rough cotton,
sometimes like silk.

*

“Wig Shopping with Mom” and “Creating” are included in Potos’ collection Marrow of Summer forthcoming in Summer 2021.

*

Andrea Potos is author of several poetry collections, most recently Mothershell (Kelsay Books), A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), and Arrows of Light (Iris Press). Another collection is forthcoming in summer of 2021 entitled Marrow of Summer. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry, and several Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. Both “Wig Shopping with Mom” and “Creating” are included in Potos’ collection Marrow of Summer forthcoming in Summer 2021.

Gears of the Night by Dawn Sperber

Gears of the Night

for Jennifer Simpson

The night before Christmas,
people were busy in their lit houses.
The moon kept revolving all the same.
The tide headed out, then returned,
headed out, and returned.
The shoreline breathed the rhythm.
The bugs bored into the trunks
of the trees behind the factory.
Tick, tick, tick went their tiny teeth.
The metal slats across the overpass
clattered each time a car drove past:
clac-clack, clac-clack.
Then, the traffic cleared
and only crickets sang.
Out from the darkness, a pickup sped by
—clac-clack—
and the pigeons under the bridge
lifted in a swirl and swooped away.
There was a snail working
his way up a drainpipe.
He’d stopped and rested some hours,
his slime hardening on the corrugated metal.
With no fanfare at all,
he returned to his journey up the pipe.
The moon noticed but said nothing.
Why would it.
On Christmas Eve,
outside of the busy, lit boxes,
the gears of the night turned onward.

*

“Gears of the Night” is dedicated to Dawn’s dear friend, Jennifer Simpson, devoted writer and literary community member extraordinaire. Jennifer led Dime Stories in Albuquerque, was co-founder of Plume: A Writer’s Companion, volunteered for years at the Children’s Grief Center, and among her many other efforts, she hosted the drop-in writing group, where Dawn wrote this poem one year ago. 

On December 12, Jennifer Simpson suddenly passed away. She was a beautiful ally to many people, in countless ways. This piece is shared in tribute to her influence on the writing community. Go to talkstorypublishing.com to learn more about Jenn’s various projects and check out the fine books her press published. 

Dawn Sperber’s stories are forthcoming in Daily Science Fiction and Zizzle Literary, and her fiction and poetry have appeared in Bourbon Penn, We’Moon, NANO Fiction, Going Down Swinging, PANK Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in New Mexico, where she’s a writer and editor. You can find more of Dawn’s work at dawnsperber.com

Molokini Crater by Meghan Sterling

Molokini Crater

The way desire could wind around
me like a cat around my legs,
a purr loud enough to drown the no
right out of my mouth, the soft fur of it
scratching, tripping me up.
He never once asked if I was happy,
and when he asked me to become his wife
the NO inside frightened me into a small yes.
And while I lied and the too large ring was floating
towards me over the clear water,
I saw the birds of paradise, stiff and orange,
splayed like flaming wings wide to the sky
above the nearby cliff, and I wished I were braver,
a bird of paradise—alone and arcing,
not this false bride afraid to wrest myself
from the lie of my life, afraid of the backlash.
Which happened, and soon, stripping me nearly down to bone,
but not that day; that day was cool blue ocean,
sharks slow swimming beneath us,
a too-large ring, a terrible fear,
the false smile which confused the photographers,
and that premonition of doom.

*

Meghan Sterling’s work has been published in many journals and anthologies, including Rattle, Glass Poetry Journal, Literary Mama, and Enough: Poems of Resistance and Protest. She is co-editor of the anthology, A Dangerous New World: Maine Voices on the Climate Crisis, is Assocate Poetry Editor of the Maine Review, Featured Poet of Frost Meadow Review’s Spring 2020 Issue, A Dibner Fellow at the 2020 Black Fly Writer’s Retreat, and a Hewnoaks Artist Colony Resident in 2019 and 2021. Her chapbook, How We Drift, was published by Blue Lyra Press in 2016. Her first full-length collection is coming out in 2021 from Terrapin Books. She lives in Portland, Maine with her family.

Two Poems by Stan Sanvel Rubin

The Way I Miss You

In daytime when light plays over us
even from this all-gray winter sky,
something else is dancing.

It’s always there, the hidden thing
that makes everything possible.
This is how I miss you.

It isn’t that the moon
slips inside a sleeve of night
and vanishes so that anything I see

is a partial thing defined by darkness.
The universe itself that transmits light
hides in the gravity of darkness.

I don’t miss the light.
I miss the shadow
that was our shadow.

*

The Sea Is A Grief

Listen to the old accordion
making sad music
with bones and pebbles,
countless secrets
like hidden predators.

The sea grieves for its secrets,
which are those of a small boy
watching the waves rise and fall
from a pier where a horse dives
with a star-spangled rider

into the foamy water
and emerges in front of the boy’s own eyes
still carrying the woman in the wet shining cap
who leads it back to plunge again
from the high pier into the sea.

*

Stan Sanvel Rubin has poems recently in 2 River, Sheila-na-gig and Aji and has been previously published in Agni, Georgia Review, Poetry Northwest, One and others. His four full collections include There. Here (Lost Horse Press) and Hidden Sequel (Barrow Street Book Prize). He lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. He writes essay reviews of poetry for Water-Stone Review.

And the Native Grasses Mourned by Melissa A. Chappell

And the Native Grasses Mourned

The wildflowers long gone,
the native grasses mourned.
Then, cut and laid low,
the sorrowful remnant
was raised from the field,
straw tombstones,
disquieted
for their children
in the earth.

*

Melissa A. Chappell is a writer living in rural South Carolina. She has a BA in Music Theory from Newberry College and a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. Besides writing, she is a classically trained pianist, vocalist, and makes attempts at the Renaissance lute. She also plays the guitar. She shares her life with her family and two mini schnauzers. Her latest publication is Doors Carelessly Left Ajar, published by Alien Buddha Press, 2020.

A Catholic’s Guide to Avoid Going to Hell by Valerie Frost

A Catholic’s Guide to Avoid Going to Hell

Use your manners,
even if the other person doesn’t deserve it.

Smile, a lot, sometimes painfully.
Grit your teeth if you must to really sell it.

Be a generally good person, by society’s standards-
whatever society you happen to be a part of.

Don’t be the person who breaks a pay-it-forward chain
in the Starbucks drive-thru line.

Keep most of your thoughts to yourself,
(people don’t usually take kindly to them).

Always bless people when they sneeze.

Tell white lies to protect other people’s feelings.
But also never lie, it’s wrong.

Maintain impeccable customer service,
no matter how awful the customer is.
It’s your fault, anyway.

Treat all animals better than humans.
Animals are the closest thing to God
(besides the Pope, of course).

Give your money away-
no matter how hard you work for it.
You don’t deserve it.

*

Valerie Frost is a Garden State native. She lives in Central Kentucky with her twin three-year-olds. Her poems have appeared in the Eastern Iowa Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Thimble Literary Magazine, and elsewhere.

Two Poems by Anton Yakovlev

I Still Can’t Read Your Criminal Case

published by your family in hardcover.
It never made the bestseller lists, though

I hear it reads like a potboiler until
the last three pages. Forgive me

for still getting angry at the raccoons
when they snatch the chicken carcasses out

of my garbage, even on the anniversaries
of the night your body was dropped in acid.

*

Her Voice

She makes impressions without finishing touches
She fights philosophy with her homegrown Monadnock hymn
Her portable xylophones herd the pretentious beautiful
Her weapons aren’t obvious
At length the oxygen starts running out and instead of enchantment with her consciously limited
           number of breaths per minute I start to yearn for the canyon outside, the one in which you
           can still find a stray guillotine here and there
If guillotines could sing, would they sing in her voice?
If I spoke in her voice, how quickly would I catch fire?

*

Anton Yakovlev’s latest poetry chapbook is Chronos Dines Alone (SurVision Books, 2018), winner of the James Tate Prize. He is also the author of Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017) and two prior chapbooks. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Criterion, The Hopkins Review, Measure, Posit, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of poetry by Sergei Yesenin, was published by Sensitive Skin Books in 2019.