Two Poems by Courtney LeBlanc

POEM FOR NEW YEAR’S DAY

I’m lucky to have good neighbors, the kind
who pull your garbage bins in when you’re out
of town or gather your mail. This summer
I exchanged cucumbers from my garden
for mint from hers. And to have the kind
of neighbors who deliver a bouquet
of bright yellow buttercups when my dad
died, with a note filled with such kindness
I started crying all over again. And isn’t
that what the world needs right now, a little
more kindness? Because last night the ball
dropped and everyone held their breath
and made a wish, the world collectively hoping
that this year will be better than the last.
I started the first day of this new year with
a long walk with my dog, her anxiety
non-existent on these empty country roads.
And the few cars that passed contained
people who raised their palms in hello,
greeting me as if we were old friends, as if
they would happily accept cucumbers
from my garden, grab the package
at my front door, and deliver compassion
in the face of grief. They waved and I waved
back, this small act of kindness between
strangers, this small bit of hope carrying
us into the new year.

*

FOR MY SISTER, WHO TURNED 40 ELEVEN DAYS AFTER OUR FATHER DIED

We planned on Ireland, a week of lush
green and rolling hills, castles and seductive,
indecipherable accents. I would drive
and you would navigate. We’d hike and drink
Guinness, laugh and sleep late. Instead
we took turns holding our father’s hand,
the hum of the hospital and piped-in
Muzak, the soundtrack. After a week, we
brought him home, moved him close
to the picture window in the living room,
let the sun shine onto his skin as he gulped
for air and I pushed morphine into his cheek.
When he died we circled around his bed,
touched his cooling skin, wiped our tears
on the white sheets. Our father never left
the country, never had a passport, never
graduated high school. He left
the adventuring to us, his two youngest
daughters, the ones who flew farthest
from the nest. Let’s pull out calendars
and make plans. We’ll go next year,
or in five. We’ll explore the whole damn
world, we’ll see everything he never did.

*

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press). She is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.

Two Poems by Adam Chiles

Inheritance

My mother found the dog rooting through
the mulch out back, nosing rotten cabbage leaves.
A blood shot eye. Need pushed deep into its nostrils.
What could she do but love the animal,
this famished stray, dirt steeled firm to its skin.
She nursed the creature back. Took to the fells
each day. Wandered the gravel paths
above the stacks and kilns, happy to be absent
from the tempers of that house. It didn’t last.
Her father kicked the animal out one night.
Snatched his supper plate and slammed it
against the wall. My mother rubs her arm
as she speaks. Eighty years on, she still feels it,
that sting, that phantom shard of porcelain.

*

Widower

Weekends, he parks his bike at the oak
and eases through the chapel turnstile.
As usual, a satchel slung over his back
filled with clippers, trowels, a bunch of
wildflowers. He walks to her plot, takes
out his tools and begins, digging out
a thin trench of soil, trimming its frame.
And what else can he do for her now
but this weekly crop and mend. His face
lost to a rampant beard. Below him,
daffodils, their ceaseless gold alarms.

*

Adam Chiles’ latest collection Bluff will be published by Measure Press this Summer. His work has been anthologized in Best New Poets 2006 (Samovar) and has appeared in numerous journals including Barrow Street, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Copper Nickel, Cortland Review, Connotation Press, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, Magma, Permafrost, RHINO, The Threepenny Review and Thrush Poetry Review. He is professor of English and Creative Writing at Northern Virginia Community College and serves on the editorial board at Poet Lore.

Across the Street by Jason Fisk

Across the Street

We live in the suburbs
and we have a Ring Doorbell
and we have a tiny dog
and there are coyotes
that live in the woods
across the street

I let the dog out
every night before bed
and watch her sniff
the air for dangerous news
blowing from
our coyote neighbors
across the street

I keep an aluminum baseball bat
by the front door
just in case the coyotes
decide to attack her
or try to lure her
back across the street

My imagination has
played out a scenario
where they surround her
and I come thundering
out of the house swinging
the bat left and right
taking out one coyote after another
knocking them here and there
sending them yelping back
to the woods
across the street

I think about the rush
I would get from
posting the Ring-Doorbell video
on Facebook

Every like a micro dose
of adrenaline

*

Jason Fisk lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. He has worked in a psychiatric unit, labored in a cabinet factory, and mixed cement for a bricklayer. He was born in Ohio, raised in Minnesota, and has spent the last 25 years in the Chicago area. www.jasonfisk.com