Monday, August 20, 2018

Tim by Turner Wibbelsman

Every summer, dad’s friend
would return home from Alaska,
having worked the king crab
seasons, toughing the ice
and brute of the Bering Sea,
those massive hands
calloused thick from nylon
nets and steel winches, blood
left behind, washed through
the bulwark drainage slits
to mix with that dark sea.

And we could hear the diesel
engine long before the pick-up
pulled in the back driveway—
running barefoot across the wet
yard, my brother and I shouldering
the large white cooler, its ice sloshing
our long-awaited treasures.

Unhinging rubber latches,
we lifted that great lid,
thick as my fist, having held
the north Pacific chill
across all those long states,
finally released onto grinning faces
as we plucked king crabs
from the ice-water, hands
wincing from brief
submersion and shell points
pressing into soft palms—
our small price to pay.

And as the crabs cooked,
we laid newspaper
on the porch table, set out
wooden mallets and peered
under the green grill lid
until our feast was ready
to be dumped on the table—
sitting on our knees so we
could reach across the pile,
finding that greatest red claw.

Years later, I received
news that he had suddenly
passed, traveler’s soul approaching
the strange final destination,
flying down the parkway
with June’s sweet air filling
the truck cab, having weathered
winter at sea, bringing the world’s
regal gift back home.



Turner Wibbelsman is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and former editor of UNC's Health Humanities Journal. He plans to attend medical school in the future. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

One of Those People by Shannon Lise

          After “The Carousing Couple,” a painting by Judith Leyster

You would perhaps
have liked
to be one of those people

like Judith Leyster, painting
her splotchy red
faces back in the 17th century

getting other people’s signatures
forged over her own
until she was quite forgotten, but still

knowing how to capture laughter
how to make even
her unattractive characters –

the round rubber-cheeked woman
with a huge forehead,
the insecure squat-nosed man fussed

up in that ridiculous French collar
and pretending to play
violin – look happy, even pleasant

as if they’d seen the way poplar leaves
turn fuzzy silver
undersides to the sunlight. As if they

knew that sometimes it does snow
on Christmas
even in places like Abilene.

But we could’ve filled a blank Bible-
length notebook
with the things you would’ve liked to be.



Originally from Texas, Shannon Lise spent twelve years in the Middle East and currently lives with her husband in Quebec, spending as much time as possible in the woods or on the water. She also writes epic fantasy realism and is the author of the novel Keeper of Nimrah (Ethandune Publishing, 2014). 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

At the Farmer's Market by Martha Christina

“How’s your husband?” the man
selling fruit and berries from his
orchard asks. We haven’t seen
each other since October when
he left to winter in Florida, and
your prognosis was for a quick
recovery. So I have to say again
the words I’ve had to say for
months, and he kindly offers
condolences with his nectarines.

I buy a bag and move on, past
the man selling fish, the woman
promising rugalah like her Nana’s,
another offering the first sweet
corn of the season, and the recent
divorcee making lemonade, her
husband still alive and a worry.

I pick up my farm-share from
the woman who reminded you
of our daughter, and who gives
me a weekly hug because she
knows fresh produce only goes
so far.

And all the while, this week’s
live music drifts over and
around me: guitar and harp,

a husband and wife duo.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in the anthology Ice Cream Poems from World Enough Writers. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Reception by Martha Christina

Monday, a window-
washing crew arrives
with squeegees
and drying chamois.

Tuesday, a mason repairs
brickwork where the silver
maple went down in a late
March storm.

Wednesday, Thursday,
and Friday, the lawn care
team prunes, mows, and
turns five leaf blowers
to full force and volume.

All this in preparation for
Saturday’s celebration
of the daughter joining
her father’s law firm.

Saturday morning, rain ticks
against the freshly-washed
windows. It falls all day on
the brickwork, on the lawn,
and on the tent filled with
music and laughter; and

on the caterer’s server:
undocumented, checking
her cell-phone in case
a message comes to
get out of there, quick.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in the anthology Ice Cream Poems from World Enough Writers. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Another Kind of Prospering by Martha Christina

Up from New Orleans
to New England,
Rosa held fast to
southern traditions,
named her three
table restaurant
“Lagniappe,” and
served an extra
beignet or wedge
of cornbread to
all her customers:
no extra charge.

I’d like to say
her little restaurant
prospered with
a steady stream
of locals and tourists,
but it lasted only
one season. Rosa
and her new hire
(a woman who’d
never been out
of Massachusetts)
closed up, settled
their debts and
themselves, newly-
wed in New Orleans.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in the anthology Ice Cream Poems from World Enough Writers. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

about feeling lonely and lost by J.J. Campbell

my best friend
complains about
the pain

complains about
feeling lonely
and lost

i tell her it's
cancer

all her negative
thoughts is
cancer winning

i worry she
will die before
i get to see her
again

die alone in
a damn alley
turning tricks
for money for
dog food

i told her it's
okay to die

when that stops
making her angry

i know the end
is near



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know where the bodies are buried. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Under the Bleachers, Synchronized Chaos and Otoliths. His most recent chapbook "the taste of blood on christmas morning" was published by Analog Submission Press. You can find him most days waxing poetic on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (
http://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Silence by Steve Klepetar

“Had we remained together
we could have become a silence.”


          Yehuda Amichai

Like roots of trees or masonry
in a wall, like fish gliding
through darkness, with just
our hands brushing against
each other’s skin. We could
have entered through doors
we kept locked, turning keys
gently, pulling on the knobs.
We could have stepped into
the hallway, wandered through
rooms of a large house, near
where green mountains loomed.
We could have sailed through air,
without words to drag us back to earth.



Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Recent collections include A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press) and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).

Thursday, August 2, 2018

First Snowfall by Nathan Graziano

Early December, and the first snow covers
all things on the outside. Across the street
a young mother pulls her snow-suited girl
in a blue plastic sled—the toddler sitting
upright with her legs straight out and arms
in the air. I’m watching from the window
in the kitchen, waiting on a pot of coffee.

In the windowless basement, my wife
and my daughter—suddenly a teenager—
wrap Christmas presents, side by side,
lost in folds and tape and tags and paper
and bright ribbons in a dank, dark place.  



Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website:
www.nathangraziano.com

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Girl Gone Ghost by Nathan Graziano

You took the first flight back to San Diego

bringing all your possessions—your clothes, 

light for California, your hardcover book

on astrology, the silver ring you wore

as a wedding band whenever we went out

so no one would stare, your service dog

with its papers in the pocket of your fur coat.

I swallow that pronoun like antifreeze—yours.

You slipped from me without a decent goodbye,

without apology, with nothing but a quick kiss

at a bus station, a mumbled promise that we’d see

each other again, someday. I didn’t know better.

You booked a flight out of Boston, the first flight

for ghosts then deleted me, the married man

who never whispered into your ear the things

you needed to hear, the syllables to make you stay.



Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website:
www.nathangraziano.com

Monday, July 30, 2018

Good Day by Mark Danowsky

I hear often
folks have a good day
right before they die

There goes Uncle Doug
out in full sun
doing a few laps around the pool

Something cruel and green
about hope
or wishful thinking

Glimmer of what was
a flash of blinding light
off the deep end



Mark Danowsky is a writer from Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, The Healing Muse, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. He is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Co-Founder of Wood & Water Press.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Chest Wounds by Jack Powers

I wasn't horny enough for my eighth grade girlfriend.
She was older and fed me shots of vodka to get me in the mood.
I didn't like being rushed. She didn't like waiting.

I just threw up and passed out and sometimes
woke up drunk the next day. My mother was worried
about me seeing a ninth grader – pestering my brother,

complete strangers, even my knee doctor
to talk some sense into me. "Tell him he's too young," she'd say.
The doctor mumbled, "Listen to your mother," shrugged

and said something about leg lifts. I was tired of the spin-
the-bottle, over-the-bra-feel girlfriends my own age.
I was skinny, but tall and looked older than I was.

She was thrilling and scary and sometimes I hated her.
Maybe I was afraid I’d disappear. So I dug in
countering unstoppable with immovable.

But when we went to her house one Tuesday afternoon
and found her mother passed out in vomit on the living room rug,
we cleaned her up and carried her to her bed.

I wanted somehow to close that wound
as we made out in her room and began to work our way around
the bases. Maybe she thought I could pin her down

and blast her into a new life. On the bus one day,
she found a poem I wrote in English class and read it aloud.
It was about birds or fish or communism and I just wrote it

to get Mr. Zaboray to leave me alone. Her friends shrieked with laughter.
The next day at lunch I didn't sit at our table, returning instead
to my eighth grade friends. She came over, scrunched her lips.

"I don't know what you're trying to prove –" she said,
but I interrupted her. "I need to break up," I said.
She turned and walked away. "I'm sorry," I whispered,

but she wasn't listening. Her dark figure blurred, disappearing
into the shrill yellow light of the lunch room windows.



Jack Powers’ poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His first book, Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar, will be coming out in the fall. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He teaches in Redding, Connecticut. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Everybody's Vaguely Familiar by Jack Powers

Four rows up in 27E I saw Judy Something (I started with A: Allison?
     Barbara? Carol?), a teacher from the middle school and her husband, Bill
(or Bob), my son's old principal. The silver-haired women in 31A and 31B
     might have bowled with my mom. We might have bumped behinds
on the dance floor at my wedding as the band played "All of Me."

Even the steward-flight attendant-whatever guy looks like a goateed
     version of my cousin Mark. I doubt he's left his wife and children,
but who knows? We've lost touch. Maybe he was afraid to tell me -–
     afraid I'd disapprove. But Mark, It's okay. I could be you on another plane
or you could be me sitting here wondering if the guy stuffing a too big,

too green bag in the overhead is a taller, pock-marked Uncle Pete –
     if he put on thirty pounds. How identical we almost are. How subtle
the variations. I sit, hello smile ready, still nursing the light stomach
     of the plane's take off, contemplating not just the unknown places I could go,
but the people I might have been – like the tanner, rounder me

I passed in 2B in sun-glasses, clad in black, with paint stains
     in the ridges of his knuckles. He could be the me who stayed in LA
thirty years ago returning now from some gallery opening
     or on-location background paint job or just another visit
to my parole officer. And now, as a stewardess – a dead ringer

for Debra Winger – drags her cart and hands an aluminum-wrapped chicken
     to the pale bald man in 31D, I study his profile. We may have grown up
in the same county, he too may have won Best Camper at Camp Holy Cross
     or he may have a sister who taught my children Spanish. Below us,
the shadow of our plane crosses Iowa fields, squares of yellow

and green broken up by brown ribbons of river. The Spanish teacher's
     brother ponders the in-flight crossword. The way he taps his pen
against his teeth seems so familiar – like a relative maybe, like me.



Jack Powers’ poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His first book, Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar, will be coming out in the fall. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He teaches in Redding, Connecticut. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/

Friday, July 27, 2018

Curbside on Uncle Willy's Street by Grace C. Ocasio

this chubby boy in a red cotton T-shirt
insinuated himself into my space.

He wore this look, flailing like a flag,
as if he'd never take it off.

I placed my hands like blind slats
in front of my eyes.
Shreds of his red shirt
shot through the gaps
between my fingers.

The stink of red
clung to my nostrils:
this boy whispered in my ear
words rank as chitterlings.

When I got in Dad's car,
I rolled my backseat window down,
inhaled enough fresh air
to last me a year.



Grace C. Ocasio’s poetry manuscript, Family Reunion, received honorable mention in a recent Quercus Review Press Contest. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she placed as a finalist in the 2016 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award competition and received a 2014 North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project Grant.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Moment by Howard Faerstein

when you think
the moon is gone forever
just when they tell you
the war is over
just when the fire appears to be dying

a spark ignites the bark
banked in the stove’s corner
the camera focuses
on the dead black boy
brandishing a plastic gun
the first sliver of ivory whitens
the unfixed sky

And you watch as the flames
consume the split oak
crackling
blazing
till you can’t sit
in the room any longer
till those with you
begin to burn



Howard Faerstein’s full-length book of poetry, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, a Silver Concho selection, was published in 2013 by Press 53. A new book, Googootz and Other Poems is forthcoming this fall. His work can be found in numerous journals including Great River Review, Nimrod, CutThroat, Off the Coast, Rattle, upstreet, Mudfish and on-line in Gris-Gris, Peacock Journal, and Connotation. He is Associate Poetry Editor of CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts, and lives in Florence, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Deadeye by George Held

I carry the corpse
of my blinded right eye
in its socket,

dead weight
in my skull, optic nerve
dead, sight beyond

reclamation, fated
for cremation
with my organic

remains, so I’m grateful
for my “good” eye,
my ocular,

with which I view
what’s left of
the visible world.



George Held regularly publishes poems, stories, translations, and book reviews in journals such as Blue Unicorn, Home Planet News, Transference, and American Book Review and has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations. His new book, his twentieth, is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle, 2017).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Unsocial Media by George Held

Friend Alice is having
a meltdown

in capital letters
on Facebook

but nobody seems
to recognize it;

friends click endless "likes"
and a few hearts

while Alice goes
deafeningly NUTS.



George Held regularly publishes poems, stories, translations, and book reviews in journals such as Blue Unicorn, Home Planet News, Transference, and American Book Review and has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations. His new book, his twentieth, is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle, 2017).

Monday, July 23, 2018

Elixir by Janette Schafer

When I was 5, I discovered alcohol in abandoned red cups
scattered about the Green House, the first place we lived
in Detroit after Venezuela.

Dad rolled blunts on a burned out coffee table while Mom
played with his wiry black hair. Aunt Sherry put her hand
on his knee, slid her fingers up to his zipper.

I went from cup to cup and room to room
as motorcycle after motorcycle parked
in our front yard.

The beer was a healing bitter herb,
a toy kaleidoscope, swirl of orange, yellow,
and red in fragmented shapes

amid the noise of black leather
and silver chrome. Dizzy with drink,
I fell in a slow arc,
laughter loud in my ringing ears.



Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, part-time rock n roll singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship through Chatham University. Her writing and photographs have recently appeared in: Rigorous Journal; Unlikely Stories V; Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology; Dear America, Reflections on Race; and PublicSource.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Arriving in New Hampshire: June 2018 by Robert Demaree

Midday: the pond glistens
With the special brightness
Of a front passed through.
The dock is in the water,
Some boards on the walkway
Starting to rot.
We walk down the path to the cottage,
And see a tree across the roof,
Resting on the ridge beam,
Topped, as they say, in a May storm,
The most serious damage to a nest
Where two wrens had expected
To raise their young.
The tree guy can come that day and
Works quickly; before leaving he blows
Pine straw off the roof:
We are paying for things
We used to do for ourselves.
I gather up small branches
And haul them to my brush pile,
Rest between trips longer,
More frequent.
Martha has a cane
But only uses it going up to the car.
I notice on my leg, just below the knee,
The first traces of those
Blue roadmaps of veins
(They don’t wash out),
Further evidence of things
To which
One must not give in.



Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in June 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club, and have appeared in over 150 periodicals. A retired educator, he resides in Wolfeboro, N.H. and Burlington, N.C. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

In the flood zone out back, by Ronald Moran

my creek ruptures if provoked,
but never runs full dry, and only
then will prepaid, transients north
of Marietta ever agree to remove
storm debris or trim or take down

maples soaking in the always moist
ground, home to copperheads, lone
cottonmouths lost in the flow,
plus raccoons, stray deer, bobcats,
and mosquitoes the size of birds.

Sometimes late at night, I hear one
of our off-center locals offering
wet penance to his god of choice,
or to a partner in this inexact place
out of sync with itself and its lives.



Ronald Moran’s last six volumes of poetry were published by Clemson University Press, and his poems have appeared in numerous magazines. His writings are archived in the Special Collections of two universities. He lives in Simpsonville, SC.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Offline by Sam Watermeier

Anxiety is an unanswered text.
A Facebook post with zero likes.
It’s the wait for virtual validation
of our personal value.
It’s the wait for us
to unplug from our phones
and actually speak to each other.
Real talk.



Sam Watermeier lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ever since his mother went into labor with him in a movie theater, he's been growing as a film fanatic, literature lover and journalism junkie. His writing has appeared in Eunoia Review, The Film Yap, NUVO Newsweekly, The Polk Street Review, THiNK Magazine and Midwest Film Journal.