Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Bostonian by Lorri Ventura

His home is a rag-filled refrigerator box
Propped crookedly on broken sidewalk
Alongside the Boston Common

When I ask him his name
He says, "Just call me 'Least of Your Brothers,'
Then winks conspiratorially

He tugs off mismatched gloves
To jab his raw fingers
Into his tepid cup of Dunkin'
Before gulping its dregs

Coffee trickles through his beard
As he offers a sip from the empty cup
To a passerby
Who squawks in protest
Before bolting to the other side of Tremont Street

The gold-gilded State House dome
Shines down on him
As his gnarled fingers weave gently
Through the yarn hair of a grimy, one-eyed, Raggedy Ann
Propped in his lap

Every so often
He leans forward and kisses the top of the doll's head
With a sweetness that brings tears to my eyes

Seeing people turn their faces away
As they rush past
Pretending not to see him
He waves and grins lopsidedly
Showing three wobbly teeth and chortling,
"Smile! I won't hurt you! Have a nice day!"

I squint through the sunlight
As I watch him from the nearest corner
I think I see
A halo around his head.



Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator. She lives in Massachusetts and her work has been featured in the poetry anthologies Songs to the Sun and Poetry Is a Mountain.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

10.2.19 / 5:35 p.m. / 75 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Piping of dusk begins to encircle the pond on this
outright hot and humid day; a return to summer, though this
natatorium, the pond, is sky for constellations of leaves
dolefully dragged across the water on the slightest ripples pulled by the slightest breeze.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and his brand new collection, Sundowning. John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in many journals in Italy. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review. John has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT. He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

10.1.19 / 7:23 a.m. / 58 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Plaudit of the rain is so soft it cannot be heard on this,
October’s first day, though the pond is stippled with raindrops; the
neaped shoreline’s arrangement of rocks is taking in the water too,
droplet by droplet, every one a balm to the starved pond.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and his brand new collection, Sundowning. John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in many journals in Italy. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review. John has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT. He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Norman Explains Why He Sits on the Back Stoop by Wilda Morris

Where Father lives in town,
the road’s not paved.
Wild roses dot
the edges of the lawn.

I prefer to be out here
in the country
where those blossoms swarm
like bees, splash

pink among tall grasses.
Monarchs embroider themselves
on milkweed stalks,
take off across unfenced fields.

Black snakes drink water
spilled by the well,
capture rats for their lunch
while I sit on the back stoop,

rest from my work in the garden,
roll a cigarette. Irene brings me a bowl
of beans, a cup of strong, black coffee.
I need nothing more.



Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons, has published poems in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications. Her first book was Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant. Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books), was published in 2019. Her blog, wildamorris.blogspot.com, features monthly poetry contests.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Norman Ponders Wheels, Circa 1947 by Wilda Morris

I wonder if Thoreau ever owned
a horse and carriage, if other men
laughed at him when he walked
from Walden Pond into town
for dinner with Emerson
or a meeting of the Transcendentalists.
Some men think to be a real man
you must drive a Ford like my brother Fred’s.
Wheels and speed, they say, give a man
independence, new scope for adventure.
I can’t afford such luxury, but no matter.

When I walk, I stop, like Thoreau,
to examine a speckled leaf,
a milkweed beetle. I laugh
at baby squirrels trying their legs
in the ash trees. I follow a path
made by deer, marvel how rabbit ears
perk up as I approach,
how red-winged blackbirds’ defend
their nests. I whistle with cardinals
while Fred zips down the highway singing,
seeing so little.



-Previously published in Keystrokes



Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons, has published poems in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications. Her first book was Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant. Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books), was published in 2019. Her blog, wildamorris.blogspot.com, features monthly poetry contests.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

at the right time by J.J. Campbell

she liked to dance naked
in the neon under a full
moon

she only wanted an audience
of one on these nights

i was never lucky enough
to be in the right place
at the right time

would only get to hear
these stories over drinks
at the corner bar the
next afternoon

i asked her once if she
would grant me permission
to show up one evening

she laughed and said no

i asked why and she
said you already know

twenty some years later
i'm still as dumbfounded
as back then

she's been divorced twice

so, i imagine the dancing
really isn't that good



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is currently trapped in suburbia. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Heroin Love Songs v2.0, Synchronized Chaos, Record Magazine, Cajun Mutt Press and The Rye Whiskey Review. You can find J.J. most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Ugliness by Joe Cottonwood

Cold day in a cool city
she walks without shoes
down Telegraph Hill.
Stops at a shattered
bottle outside Cafe
Trieste. Stoops, plucks
with delicate fingers
green spits of glass. Drops
them into a white paper bag.

People stop, stare. Maybe
mental? She’s unconcerned,
gathering glass, barefoot in a
wool dress, legs unshaved.
Pimples cluster, spatter
her face. A body heavy,
not stylish. A smile
of inner peace.

Three young men
pause, snicker.
“Hey!” one shouts.
“Don’t you know you’re ugly?”
They laugh. She’s
humming, gathering
broken glass.



Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast. He’s a pretty good carpenter and a crackerjack grandfather in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
joecottonwood.com

Monday, November 4, 2019

Power Outage by Jason Fisk

It had been my turn to pick the movie
She spent most of the film on her phone
Then the power went out
She pulled the blanket off her lap
and I heard her rummaging in the kitchen
Soon, her assorted assemblage
of scented candles collectively burned
throughout the tiny apartment
The candle glow improved the ambiance
and everything looked less worn and dirty

The candle scents intermingled in the room
Bakery Air mixed with Mango Madness
Santa’s Pipe amalgamated with Bahama Breeze
The smell was overpowering
My head innards began to protest
pushing out against my skull
I listened to the wicks’ hiss as they burned
and I watched her thumb her phone
The blue glow of the screen
lit the underside of her face

For some reason, it was at that moment
that I knew this relationship
wasn’t going to work

Later that night
I laid next to her
and stared at the ceiling

The scent of the extinguished candles
lingered in the dark




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

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Long Hair and Bleach by Jason Fisk

I took the garbage bags to the end of the driveway
and doused them with bleach
so no wildlife would annihilate the plastic bags
before they were taken away in the morning
The orange-yellow-pink evening light
angled through the garage window
as my dad tinkered at his workbench

I placed the bleach bottle back on the shelf
and dad turned and said, I think we need to talk
What about? I asked
Your hair…
Why? I asked
Because it’s too long. You should get it cut, he said
You’re just jealous ‘cause you don’t have any hair, I said
Maybe, he said and turned back to his work
His faded denim shirt hugged his back
as he bent over his workbench

At 46, I stand in the middle of my garage
and stare at my son’s shaggy hair
and I now know what my dad was really asking
He was asking
if I was hanging out with the wrong people
if I was drinking
if I was doing drugs
He was asking
if we could just talk for a minute
He wanted to know what was going on with me
and I insulted him…



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