Friday, August 16, 2019

Eros and Dust by Robert Beveridge

Dry, sandy plain that used to be
Elysian fields of hops, barley. No
farms since the drought. Homesteaders,
even, have gone. Most of them, anyway.
Nothing grows here except base emotions.
Saloon in what used to be town waters those
ever too well. Every mother's fool who still
lives here has a tab. And uses it. Come
evening, you see them all lined up,
scotch, rye, bourbon, and the card games
swallow three years' wages in a hand.

Ugly town. Ugly world. Only bright spot
Nellie, middle-aged good-time gal with the finest
derriere this side of Colorado. She does
enliven the place. Caused more marital tension
round here than even old Compton's prize heifer.

That there was a story. Bout ten years back, old
Hill, he says he's in love with that gal.
End of his marriage, you can bet. We went

next morning down to Compton's, and there,
I swear, there's Tim Hill, stone dead,
gash in his noggin shaped like Elsie's
hoof, and we just couldn't help but laugh.
This place ain't all that bad, sometimes.



Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (
xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in The Virginia Normal, Credo Espoir, and Chiron Review, among others.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Wednesday Night at the Bar by Josette Torres

“I’ve heard it all before,” she says, balancing
a drink tray against her hip. “How can you
not? I’m surrounded by drunk guys for eight

hours at a time.” And drunk girls, too, I add
silently, pushing the empty glass across
the table. The band’s lead singer circles

the room with a red plastic bucket. I smile
at the waitress and her death-defying chest—
I never take those kinds of fearless risks

with clothing anymore. My old age turned
me into a spinster. One day at the mall
I realized I was shopping for sensible shoes

and I nearly cried for my discarded youth.
She brings me another cocktail and I settle
back into my chair, quiet, dissonant, still.



Josette Torres received her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech. She also holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Purdue University. Her work has previously appeared in Star 82 Review, The New Verse News, Palaver, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, where she works as an IT professional at Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Woman in a Nursing Home by Lorri Ventura

The skin on the backs of her hands
Looks like lady slipper petals
Translucent
Tiny-veined
So delicate
She scratches it incessantly
Buckled into a wheelchair
By the elevator door
In front of the nurses’ station
Which is where the staff
Park the patients who don’t get visitors
Threadbare pate pitched forward
Stained hospital gown doing its job half-heartedly
Covering body parts
That are faded memories
Of what they once were
Seemingly asleep
Until the elevator doors
Ping their announcement
Of someone’s arrival
Then, only then
Does she become animated
Her head lifts
Her smile is almost rictal
“Hi - Hi - Hi - Hi - Hi!”
She sing-songs
“See me!”
Her unspoken plea
I bend down
And carefully embrace her
Telling her she looks pretty today
Her fingers catch in my hair
Her skin smells like
Chicken grease
Rheumy eyes lock on mine
“Bless you - Bless you - Bless you!”
She warbles
It feels like a long time passes
Before we release each other
I think she just might be
The most inspiring human being
I’ve ever met



Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator. She lives in Massachusetts and this is her second appearance in Red Eft Review. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Ashes by Al Ortolani

After my father died, my mother
spent her days sorting through
his closets, giving away armloads
of clothes, unused tools, electric gadgets,
especially watches, purchased
from the shopping channel
for 19.95 or less. It was his way
of saying my time to the poverty
of the immigrant, the Valley of Ashes
only miles from his door.
Cleaning out my own house years later,
I move boxes of books, notebooks of old
poems, spirals of unfinished novels,
all that my father and mother
gave me, the shirt on my back,
graduate school, sheaves of
college ruled paper. You can be
anything you want they said.



Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and the Chiron Review. His newest collection, On the Chicopee Spur, was released from New York Quarterly Books in 2018. He is a recent recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Award for 2019.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

What We Keep by Al Ortolani

I consider myself lucky to sit today
at an old desk, window open,
the soft whirr of the brass-bladed Emerson
fluttering the pages of a paperback.
On the wall is a photograph (1909)
of my grandmother, age 3 or 4, staring
quizzically into the lens, sister
and cousins of similar ages, caught
at the feet of their grandparents.
A quilt hangs as a backdrop
from the porch of their Ozark home.
My uncle once said that he knew
where the quilt was stored, but that was
years ago. Even more time has passed,
my uncle gone, his children
as old as grandparents themselves,
the quilt in a chest somewhere, or not.



Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and the Chiron Review. His newest collection, On the Chicopee Spur, was released from New York Quarterly Books in 2018. He is a recent recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Award for 2019. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Multiple Choice by Martha Christina

Some say this man
who every Tuesday
rides his bike
to the Library
is the son of
someone famous.

Some say he
graduated with
honors from Yale,
or maybe Harvard.

Some say he and his
clothes are unwashed,
that he mutters obscenities
in the stacks, that he tried
to flush another patron’s
laptop down the toilet.

Some say he owns a condo
on the Cape, is heir to a
sizable fortune, is homeless.

Some say he served as
a Navy Seal, as though
that might explain
why all or none
of the above is true.



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 Star 82 Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Critic by Martha Christina

Yesterday’s mockingbird
returns today, bringing
an addition to its repertoire.
To my ears, it mews a good
imitation of my cat, but she
merely twitches an ear
in the bird’s direction,
doesn’t open her eyes.



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 Star 82 Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Aunties on the Porch by Martha Christina

My cousins and I danced
in and out of the sprinkler
in the heat of a southern
Indiana summer, while
our aunties planned
our supper: Aunt Della’s
green beans, slow-cooked
with a ham hock; Aunt Golda’s
prize-winning peach pie.

They’d come far from
the shoeless summers
of their childhoods,
barefoot in barnyards
and berry patches,
picking and selling
eggs and blackberries,
earning their school shoes.

They sat rocking
and fanning, rarely
reminiscing, while
we cousins ran
barefoot, laughing
across wet grass,
without fear
of hookworms
or hunger.



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 Star 82 Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

At the Cell Phone Lot by Robert Demaree

Part One: RDU

Because we have not done this before,
Are 81 years old,
Because it conforms to the way we do
Other things,
We arrive at the cell phone lot
An hour before her flight,
Our friend’s daughter, only child,
Coming to take her father,
Recently bereaved,
Back to Kansas,
To her family, his family,
His daughter, her wife,
Their son,
Only child of only child,
Trombonist in the marching band.
The week before we had mourned
A passing; poems were read,
Family photos on the mantle.

We watch planes land.
Cars come and go
In the cell phone lot,
The insolent competence
Of people who do this all the time,
And we eat our Subway sandwich
As in the days of
Our grandchildren’s concerts—
Handel’s Largo from Xerxes
Scored for high school band.
The phone rings,
Her plane is on the ground.
In grieving
You see the best of families.

Part Two: MHT

At the Manchester airport we wait for
Our daughter coming to help open up.
We realize this is more
Than a sweet gesture.
Heavy lifting in short
Spurts now.
I rest while she sweeps.
Early June in New Hampshire.
Various green light
Rich with possibility.
We are 81,
My parents’ age, I now recall,
The last time
They drove themselves north.



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.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Summer of '89 by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

It was almost always low tide,
on those white hot afternoons
when we raced down the shore,
cotton shorts and T-shirts billowing.

the sea would stretch, pulled away,
a distant placid puddle
of peridot and peacock blue.
stamped into the shallow waters,
the clumsy wave breakers
loomed like chunky bullies.

those were the days before scary CGI,
when the Jaws series,
(with its fake looking shark,
and ominous score,)
could still give you chills.
it was fun being seven years older -
I could prank you easily
with a white plastic shovel
stuck strategically into the silt,
you had to be dumb to believe,
that it was the washed up fin
of the Great White from the movies,
or you had to be five years old.

with the light oblique on our faces,
we could have lain forever, dozing,
two snug sardines, you and I,
our soft brown limbs buried
in the fast cooling sand,
till the runny yolk of the lukewarm sun,
dissolved and bled red,
in the deepening evening blues,

soon, the sea would transform
into an agitated entity,
whooshing and spewing white foam -
the lacy trims of the thundering tide
inching closer with each crash,
till they nibbled at the edges
of our powdery sand blankets.

we would dust our salt crusted hair,
wash ourselves in the strengthening waves.
and one last time
I would hum a deep ‘daa dum daa dum’ -
my infamous Jaws number on you,
falling over laughing,
as you bolted for shore
through the now whirling waters.



Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a Sydney based artist, poet, and pianist. She holds a Masters in English and has worked in media and education. Oormila is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project and performs her poems at venues in Sydney. Her work is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Inefficiency Center by Todd Mercer

Many are chosen, few are called
at the DMV Bureau. Those with time to spare
and those without a precious moment free
huddle hopeless lo these many hours,
waiting to win the lottery prize of being waited on.
A spot at the state clerk’s business window,
a chance to write checks and drive one’s car,
legal-like. I may not get there with you,
to the line’s front or the other side of these
two hundred souls. Some are simmering,
others drift in daydreams. The Now Serving numbers
change in no discernible order. A few break
for the door, opting to save their bodies
and/or minds from interminable dusk
as the clock spins and the masses
wait as long as wait is going to take.



Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net by in 2018. Mercer won the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prize. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: A New Ulster, The Lake, and Mojave River Review.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Vacation Memories by John Grey

Tourists trudge through
the makeshift marketplace along the dock,
inspect the obligatory merchandise:
chess sets, shell necklaces,
coconuts carved into faces.
“Very cheap,” says one local after another.

But they have little time to stop.
They’re on their way
to a flotilla of buses
that will take them around the island.
They’ll hear the history, see the sights.
No need to worry that they’ve missed a bargain.
The trinkets aren’t going anywhere.
They’ll be even cheaper on their return.

Besides, there’s such a thing as
tourist’s Alzheimer’s –

all interesting tidbits from the past
are completely forgotten
with the first sip of a rum punch back on board.
And sure, the photographs of turquoise sea,
palm-tree hills, will make the family rounds.
But, in a month, they’ll have been overlaid
by close-ups of somebody or other’s new baby.

But a ceramic dolphin,
made in China,
will occupy pride of place on their mantle.
People will ask
or they’ll ask themselves,
“Now where did that come from?”

Somewhere, in the Caribbean,
the locals are parading their wares
before the next boat-load
and are much too busy to answer.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Ant by Ahrend Torrey

You can’t help the life you were given, like the ant can’t help hers,

the one crawling the white wall at work, in the bathroom, where

my hands, tied to the clock, can’t help, and where there are no windows.

I shut the door behind me, think, how will she survive?

Through the smallest crevice somewhere, I know she will.



Ahrend Torrey enjoys exploring nature in southern Louisiana, where he lives with his husband Jonathan and their two rat terriers Dichter and Dova. He is the author of Small Blue Harbor published by the Poetry Box Select imprint (Portland) in 2019. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Atavism by Joseph Helminski

A hawk slipped off
a hickory branch

in that moment
I could not think

of the word hawk
or hickory

the bird falling
gliding upward



Joseph Helminski teaches English at Oakland Community College near Detroit. His poems have been published in The Tulane Review, Olentangy Review, Sweet Tree Review, Eunoia Review, Assisi, and Great Lakes Review.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Night and Day by Joseph Helminski

After nightmares
of a robbed house

I awakened
to find locked doors

and intact glass
and light came through

windows making
me two shadows



Joseph Helminski teaches English at Oakland Community College near Detroit. His poems have been published in The Tulane Review, Olentangy Review, Sweet Tree Review, Eunoia Review, Assisi, and Great Lakes Review.

Friday, July 19, 2019

7.6.19 / 7:28 a.m. / 66 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Photo-op shy, the new frogs leap from the shore ahead of me, and I admit to feeling
overwhelmed by the daily sameness; the miracles of damsel and dragon, the swallows’
nifty gliding, hunting, and the miracle of the tadpoles’ metamorphosis, their
diurnal changes which they are too frightened to share, those powerful new legs, that archaic tail




John L. Stanizzi is author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces, and Chants. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Blue Mountain Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, and many others. Stanizzi has been translated into Italian and his work has appeared in many journals in Italy. He has read at venues all over New England, and his newest collection, Sundowning, will be out later this year with Main Street Mag. Stanizzi teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

7.4.19 / 7:31 a.m. / 67 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Punctuation marks swimming in a school? It looks that way from here.
Operating like a single entity, could this be a school of catfish fry? The tadpole's
noddle looks more “frog like” now as he rests on the shore with his
dragontail, and in the trees the wood thrush sews lace with perfect nonchalance.   




John L. Stanizzi is author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces, and Chants. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Blue Mountain Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, and many others. Stanizzi has been translated into Italian and his work has appeared in many journals in Italy. He has read at venues all over New England, and his newest collection, Sundowning, will be out later this year with Main Street Mag. Stanizzi teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Bathroom Crucifix by Carolynn Kingyens

I remember the first time I touched a crucifix;
five years old, inside my grandmother’s powder-blue bathroom,
unaware of suffering and sacrifice,
unaware of the million and one ways
a sinner could torture a saint and still get away with it,

when I felt compelled to caress Christ’s hard, flexed veins
arched away from his shin bones, muscles, pretty feet.

The crucifix was nailed to the floral pattern wall,
above the light switch.

His eyes forever cast down,
staring at my grandmother’s personal things,
her nighttime rituals —
boxes of Polident,
rosary beads,
little jars of beauty cream,
and an old photo of her only son,
my father, forever a boy dressed for Holy Communion,
mimicking the face of innocence;
wedged securely inside the edge of the switch.



Carolynn Kingyens lives with her beautiful family in NYC. Her poems have been featured in Boxcar Poetry Journal, Glass Poetry Journal, Word Riot, The Potomac, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Across the Margin, and The Orange Room Review. Her poem, “Washing Dishes” was nominated for Best New Poets by Silenced Press.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Just Once by Steve Klepetar

It happened once, just once
after all the times her mother
came at her with the broom,
face twisted, shrieking about
her smart mouth, screaming
Because I said so,
swatting at the girl with
the handle, raising welts.
Just once.
Her mother advanced
like a storm system,
an avalanche of rage:
I said now!
The girl blocked the blow
with her forearm,
ignoring the black and blue
pain of it, swinging
her open hand with a hard slap
to her mother’s astonished face,
who stepped back, then swung
her own slap at the girl,
who slapped her mother again,
hard as she could,
spinning her halfway around.
It happened just that once,
and never again
the broom or slap,
only the phantom pain
on her arm and the silence
that lived beneath that house,
so polite now with explanations and requests.



Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Klepetar is the author of fourteen poetry collections, the most recent of which are A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press) and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Summer of the Bear by Steve Klepetar

My son texts me a photograph of his little daughters,
six and three, backs to the camera by a large picture window.
On the other side, a black bear cub.
You can’t see their faces,
but judging by their body language,
they aren’t at all afraid, pressing close to the glass.
And the cub too looks mild and unafraid,
curious it seems, at this interspecies meeting
by a house in the woods.
I post the photo on Facebook, “Granddaughters with bear.”
The comments fly in.
“OMG!”
“OMG!”
“OMG!”
One friend: “Isn’t it dangerous?”
Me: “Only if the glass breaks.”

That night, driving home from Tanglewood
(Hillary Hahn, an all Bach program) we pass a bear
ambling down Hawthorne Street.
The next day someone has posted a hand-scrawled sign
on the clubhouse, where we pick up our mail:
“Beware! Large male bear sighted
between the pond and the red barn.
Keep your dogs on a leash.”
Next to the sign, a photograph.
He is enormous, and just behind him to the left,
maybe fifty feet away you can see our house.

We read about black bears,
how they shy away from humans,
how there have been sixty-one recorded killings
by black bears since 1900,
how last year many more people were killed by bees,
domestic dogs, lightning strikes.
We sit on our porch, looking out toward the reeds,
the high grass and woods, hoping for a glimpse.
All night we roam the dream woods, where the great bears live
in the shadows of trees, leaking sometimes into the waking world.



Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Klepetar is the author of fourteen poetry collections, the most recent of which are A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press) and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).