Thursday, October 19, 2017

Plymouth Rock by Sarah Henry

The rock is ten
tons of granite.
I saw it years ago
and figured out
the story--
the pilgrims hustled
down a gangplank
from the Mayflower
and landed on the rock.
They schmoozed
the Indians and made
Thanksgiving dinner
without electricity.
They couldn’t
flick a switch
as we do.
We spend
Thanksgiving
watching football
on TV
and eating turkey
from a store.
We can google
Plymouth Rock
and get a surprise:
historically,
the pilgrims didn’t
land there at all.



Sarah Henry's poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Soundings East, The Hollins Critic and many other journals, as well as six anthologies. CheapPop and Donut Factory featured her humorous prose.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

knock at the door by Justin Hyde

farro
boiling on the stove

large

handsome man

blue slacks
widow’s peak

my eyes
find his eyes
they find

the ground

his eyes again

please

don’t take my wife
from me


his adam’s apple
moves up
it moves

down

my hands
find the
front of my jeans

find each other

calluses like
muted pyramids

he turns

& walks away.



Justin Hyde's books and other poems can be found here:
http://poets.nyq.org/poet/justinhyde.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nocturne by Steve Klepetar

The sun has turned away.
Now comes a season of tall corn
browning in fields, and darkness
dropping earlier each day.
Nobody sleeps on the beaches,
and wind cuts through the hills.
Dark valleys echo with sound.

By now, all the doors have closed.
Through windows, faint blue
ghosts of TV light.
There’s a walker in the chill.
Leaves swirl at his feet
as he steps across the bridge,
water below black and heavy as lead.



Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has appeared widely in the U.S. and abroad, and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include: “A Landscape in Hell;” “Family Reunion;” and “How Fascism Comes to America.”

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday by Ronald Moran

is the prelude for a widow's weekend of long,
                         quiet days,
like Saturday, with couples coupling all day
                         in or out

of the suburbs, holding hands on walks around
                         the block
in warm weather, or planting, harvesting, raking,
                         bagging,

or just sharing the same air indoors on a couch,
                         like Sunday,
sitting alone in a pew, still grieving the loss
                         of her spouse,

or maybe she's saving a place for someone
                         to share
a hymnal, to lean easily against a shoulder
                         again.   



Ronald Moran has poems in current or forthcoming issues of Asheville Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Tar River Poetry. In March he was inducted into Clemson University’s CAAH Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Waiting by Martha Christina

What’s your name?
the woman beside me asks.

We’re each waiting
for a bus in this small town’s
gift shop and bus stop. We’re
standing next to a display
of plastic bears clasping
painted hearts: female
names from Ann to Zoe.

Before I can answer,
she says hers is Linda,
. . .but the Ls are all gone.


She tells me how long she’s lived
in this town I’m just passing through;
where she works, how many years
she’s worked there, and that she has
the weekend off. She tells me
her coat is new, and she hasn’t
put the hood up because
it knocks her earmuffs off.
She tells me she has a cat: black
and white. His name is Kitty
but there’s only Kathy and besides
he’s a boy and besides he wouldn’t
like a bear and besides he can’t read.


She tells me she likes the bus,
takes it every Friday to a dance
two towns away where
friends will meet her,
and bring her home.

When her bus pulls up,
she claps her hands,
gives the driver her ticket,
asks his name, and if he
remembers her. He nods,
smiles a kind smile.

She waves as her bus
pulls away, leaving me
still, unnamed.



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).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Outside of Eastham by Martha Christina

1
a digital sign alerts drivers:
CONTROLLED
BURN AHEAD

2
The firefighter
directing traffic
waves us on. “No
worries,” she says,
smiling, “Everything’s
under control.”

3
Smoke drifts
across the road.
Memory follows.

4
My mother
at flash point. . .
with access
to matches.



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).

Monday, October 2, 2017

A New Song at Stop & Shop by Martha Christina

2008
The young clerk at register 3
counts herself among
the lucky ones: working
in a resort town, plenty
to eat, money to send home.
She sings and sways
as the conveyor belt
presents its bounty: Over. . .
running over. . . .My cup
is full and running over.


2017
She keeps
her H2B visa
on her person.
Going to work,
at work,
coming home,
she keeps
quiet.



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).

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Summer Cold by Ben Rasnic

It’s 90 degrees out
but I am holed up inside
with the mother of all colds.

My head swollen
as a blue ribbon pumpkin
at the county fair;

puffy red nostrils
perpetually dripping
like leaky faucets.

Find myself
on a sofa filled with quilts
time travelling to Andy Griffith reruns

sipping chicken noodle soup;
lemon, rosemary & peppermint oils
boiling in the kitchen        

my mother singing off key
to the country music
radio station;

slipping once again
into sweet
slumber



Ben Rasnic currently resides in Bowie, Maryland. Author of four published collections (three available from
amazon.com), Ben's poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Closing Exercises: Summer Boarding School (Wolfeboro 2017) by Robert Demaree

The tents by the teaching grove are empty,
Will be coming down soon.
I walk along the lane
And listen to echoes of the summer.
What has been gained here,
What will be remembered
Of these five weeks?
Friends they may not see again;
The confidence to start afresh
At new schools in different places;
The teachers who persuaded them
They could write, or draw, or succeed.
The teachers will file their reports,
Take their own kids
For a last look at the pond,
Lash kayaks to the tops of their cars



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.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Off and On Tinty's Racetrack (Plainville, CT, 1952) by Ronald Moran

My best friends, Dick and Roger, asked
me for five bucks so we could buy a car,
purple, with the number 54 fading, sitting
in weeds on Zack's lot next to the pumps
in his gas station, and I said OK before
realizing the three of us had to pay for it
by pumping gas at Zack's, a fee for our
new stock car to vegetate on his side lot.

This was after I found out the car had no
engine and no prospects of ever racing
at Tinty's, our distant goal in buying 54,
where we went Friday nights to the races
on its short track, and where Dick wormed
his way into the pits, trying to con drivers
into letting him take a car out on a Friday.
One did and Dick came in third, more
glory than we could have hoped for then.



Ronald Moran has poems in current or forthcoming issues of Asheville Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Tar River Poetry. In March he was inducted into Clemson University’s CAAH Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Horrible Thing I Did by M. Stone

Recalling it
makes my stomach take a leap
the way it does when I miss the last step
and lose my footing.

It is the pain of a rough poke in the side,
leaving tender organs smarting,
but later I will find no bruise.

It makes me crave my lost religion
and the stern bogeyman in the sky
who can dole out retribution.

Decades have passed,
and I can only try to atone;
the gravity of the act
will not be erased. 

Now when I am tempted
to fetch a stone the size of my palm
and hurl it at some guilty party,
a person I find more wicked than myself,

the memory of the horrible thing I did
stays my hand.



M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, SOFTBLOW, Calamus Journal, and numerous other print and online journals. She can be reached at
writermstone.wordpress.com.

Monday, September 4, 2017

the older hispanic men by Justin Hyde

i met
in detasseling fields
factories
& roofing crews

had nothing
or very little

besides aztec grace
& the dignity
of a bald eagle
high
on their shoulders

something of durango
jalisco
echoes of pancho villa
swirling
in their marrow

men like luis
ramiro
enrique

clockwork

no pensive
shame

or existential
brittle

i stood
in their shade

those lean
wandering
years.



Justin Hyde's books and other poems can be found here:
http://poets.nyq.org/poet/justinhyde.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Let's Blame It on Mother by M.J. Iuppa

There was never any drawing paper. We
stole the cardboard that kept our father’s

pressed shirts stiff— careful not to separate
straight pins that fastened the sleeves to

shoulders. We were stealth, trying
to ply the pine drawers open with-

out a squeak, knowing Mother was fast
asleep in the next room.

We gave each other that look as we tip-
toed down the staircase to a room where

we hid with bald-faced lies that became
drawings of the orphanage, of running

away with a red leather suitcase filled with
vinyl 45s & a week’s worth of underwear.

We’d get as far as Petrossi’s barn &
settled in their stable on a mound of hay.

We’d lie there, listening to horses’ slow
breath & considered what would happen

if we answered the black phone
ringing off its hook.



M.J. Iuppa, Director of the Visual & Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College, and a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport, was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the Park by Richard Martin

A small blonde-haired boy came skipping past,
waving to me furtively behind his mother's back –
just two of the afternoon wanderers in the park,
where, with some thirty others, I sat patiently
on a flimsy chair to listen to a poetry reading.

Around us stood vast beech and lime trees,
prolific bushes and verdant lawns; the poets
told us they'd read about landscape, gardens,
fields, nature, and, yes, parks. The heavy burls
on the tree trunks became faces, grinning
at the thought of versifying their glory.

On the grass beyond a row of Roman columns,
enthusiasts practised therapeutic exercises –
the sun shone briefly through the clouds;
the reading over, we walked our memories home.



Richard Martin is an English writer who lives in the Netherlands close to the point where Belgium, Germany and Holland meet. After retiring as a university teacher in Germany, he turned his attention to writing, and has published three collections of poetry and numerous poems in magazines in England, the US, and Austria.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Way of the World by Ben Rasnic

Pacing the concrete median strip
adjacent the intersection
of Central Avenue
and Ritchie Road,

his scruffy beard
daubs a face rutted
by hard times;
vacant eyes
expose the emptiness inside.

The cardboard sign
pressed against a soiled, slept on
Army Surplus shirt
reads “Desert Storm Vet
down on his luck
needs help to pay the rent”

and I’m thinking
‘There but for the grace
of God go I’

but the light turns green
& I punch the accelerator

so as not to piss off
those who continue
along this road I travel.



Ben Rasnic currently resides in Bowie, Maryland. Author of four published collections (three available from
amazon.com), Ben's poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summers with My Father by Aden Thomas

He told my mother
he brought me along
so I would want to stay
in school, get a degree,
the first in the family
to go to college.
But we both knew
I saved him labor.

We packed and loaded everything
for people,
their furniture, their beds,
their boxes filled with dishes,
their washers and dryers,
their pianos and and televisions,
into the moving van,
which wasn’t a van at all
but an empty tractor-trailer.

From 5am to twilight
we worked in the heat,
so tired by the end,
the salt
of our sweat
stuck to our skin.
Our muscles, seared
by the sun,
the humidity and heat,
burned slow into the night.

No shower, just a buffet
at a truck stop in the dark
and a sleeping bag
for a bed.
My bones were so exhausted
I’d fall asleep
in my clothes and wake up
past midnight
bathed in sweat again.

Sometimes in the morning
all the illegals
would gather on the sidewalk
outside the truck stop
and my father would speak
his broken Spanish to them,
hire one or two
to help us load the truck full.

I would spend the day
trying to outwork them.
Maybe their motivation was
a better life
or sending money back home,
I didn’t know,
but mine was trying to prove myself
to him, prove
I knew what it was,
the real work
of men.

It had to be impossible
that he’d done it
for twenty-five years,
all the neighborhoods
in all the cities,
all the truck stops,
on all the lonely highways,
the nerves in his feet
crushed under all
the weight of heavy lifting,
the months and years
away from his family,

One night, late into
the summer,
both of us sitting in the cab
near the end of our time
together, right before
I was set to go off
to school,
both of us listening
to the radio,
he said, son,
you worked hard,

and that was how
I knew.



Aden Thomas grew up on the high plains of central Wyoming.  His work has appeared in the The Blue Mountain Review and The Skylark Review. A collection of his published poems, What Those Light Years Carry, is now available through Kelsay Books.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

dad says by Justin Hyde

memories
pop-up
out of nowhere

he watches them like movies
losing whole afternoons

-running naked
in a rainstorm
on the farm
with his kid brother

-setting up bowling pins
saturday nights
at the memphis missouri vfw
for a nickel
a frame

-chugging a bottle of vermouth
on a dare
and punching out
the back window
of sheriff pope’s
patrol car

‘i look at the clock
3pm
i haven’t done a damn thing
but watch movies
in my head.’

‘at least
you still have the movies,’
i tell him.

‘there’s that,’
he smiles
working the blade of a pocket knife
under his fingernails.

the chili
done

i stir it
with a big wooden spoon

ladle us each
a bowl.



Justin Hyde's books and other poems can be found here:
http://poets.nyq.org/poet/justinhyde.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Monadnock Flood by Maura MacNeil

It is April’s upending ocean of sky that takes the road,
tosses asphalt and gravel into the bottom pasture,

chokes the apple and viburnum, almost kills them outright.

That Saturday, mud ankle-deep, sludge water receded to shallow pools,
we went down there to pick our way through—

to collect in a pile the stones and all those sharp things:
bits of glass, a ballpoint pen, a car mirror—shards of storm—

before it cemented in and broke the mower blades in June.

But then, suddenly, within days, everything new.
Brown snakes curled in the sun, jonquils my husband planted

last fall in bloom. Down the hill a new house was going up.
A constant whine of band saws, skill saws. And in the yard all those birds,

familiar notes—a pecking so deep, so desiring, from a leafing oak.



Maura MacNeil is the author of the poetry collections A History of Water (Finishing Line Press) and Lost Houses (Aldrich Press). She is also founder and editor of off the margins. She teaches creative writing and lives in the woods of New Hampshire with her husband.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Instructions by Maura MacNeil

First, ignore most noise.

Then breathe.

Stand slack
and reject rigidity.

Sing with your bones
to make them soften.

And then sleep.

Do not rise
in the middle
of the night
when you
wake startled.

Rest.

Close your eyes
and rest.



Maura MacNeil is the author of the poetry collections A History of Water (Finishing Line Press) and Lost Houses (Aldrich Press). She is also founder and editor of off the margins. She teaches creative writing and lives in the woods of New Hampshire with her husband.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Diminished by Steve Klepetar

Halfway through the month,
and light has lessened.

The year comes around
again to a house sunk deep

in meadow grass.
There is no one home,

but birds break from treetops
at the slightest sound.

Look down toward the canyon,
down from the rocky hill.

There are voices in the wind,
indistinct, and still

there is light in the windows,
light shining across the roof.

Here is a house
diminished

like a wounded eye, burning
despite the shadows of trees.



Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include Family Reunion (Big Table), A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps).