Monday, May 15, 2023

When Virgil Pitches Softball by M.J. Arcangelini

His whole middle-aged body twists
Into the windup, a quickening spring
As he draws back, the ball clutched
Between glove and bare right hand
His body leaning as though the ball
Were a weight pulling him backward
His left leg rises from the ground
His body thus balanced, poised for release
His arm swings out then low, foot reaches
Forward, drops into a cloud of dust, the
Ball flies from his hand toward the batter
Arching into the air, searching out home plate
With maybe a spin added at the last moment
He freezes for a long instant waiting
To hear the crack of the bat or
The thud of the ball finding
The catcher’s mitt
Ready for whatever happens next.

M.J. Arcangelini, (b. 1952, Pennsylvania), has resided in northern California since 1979. He has published extensively both online and in print. He is the author of 6 published collections, the most recent of which is Pawning My Sins (released by Luchador Press in 2022).

Sunday, May 14, 2023

After the Storm by Howie Good

A sparrow about the size of a fist
shuttles back and forth, back and

forth, transporting in its beak what
we’d consider litter – now a dead

twig, now a bit of paper or string –
to add to the nest it’s resurrecting

with immaculate care in the sun-
crowned tree just outside our door.

Howie Good's newest poetry collection, Heart-Shaped Hole, which also includes examples of his handmade collages, is available from Laughing Ronin Press.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Talking to Myself by Carolynn Kingyens

You have made us
for yourself,
and our hearts are restless
until it rests in you.

— Saint Augustine

A seminary student,
whom I once knew
back in college, an old friend,
who'd lose his faith entirely
after one of the little girls
at a makeshift church
he helped pastor for a time
in Mawlynnong,
the one with the glass eye
the color of jade,
and the cutest giggle,
was raped and strangled
by a group of barefoot
village boys, who'd
plead guilty, then
disappear in the night,
one by one.

"Where was God for that little girl?"
he asked me over bottles
of Stella Artois and falafel
after reconnecting on Facebook
after a decade
of ghosting each other.

An atheist now, and an insomniac,
who'd get high every night
to Coltrane records
and warm baths,
"a routine," he said, "that coaxed
him to sleep —just fine."

He told me that he didn't mind
when his glasses clinked loudly
inside the kitchen cupboard
everytime the silver bullet
subway train roared
underneath his first floor
apartment in Clinton Hill,
that the sound reminded
him of a cousin's wedding,
when all the guests would
raise their goblet glasses high
and clink them with knives,
forks, spoons, in unison,
prodding the groom to kiss
his bride, on demand.

He told me the story of Joey Cabrio,
the kind, homeless man
he befriended outside his apartment.

He told me about their deep discussions
around the philosophy of Saint Augustine,
and their shared love for Coltrane,
Lester Young, and Johnny Hodges,
who'd end up stabbed to death
over some stupid, imaginary turf war
between a fellow homeless person
off his meds.

"Why are humans
so evil to one another?"
he asked me, now buzzed.

I wanted to say my canned
Christian response to pretty
much all of life's troubles,
the only one I knew —
Because of sin,
Because of free will,

but chose to stay silent

He told me that every
time I prayed to my
invisible, Judeo-Christian
God that I was merely
talking to myself.

"Do you enjoy talking
to yourself?" he'd quip back
with a fox-like grin.

When I was ten years old,
I came to the realization,
on my own,
that for all those years,
all those Saturday afternoons
at my best friend's house
playing Barbies in her basement —
with her Barbie Dreamhouse,
with her Barbie Camper,
with her Barbie McDonald's,
Jen owned all the good toys;
acting out brutal, betraying scenarios
to put our Barbies through —
the cheating scandals with Ken;
the heartbreak of the blonde Barbie
with the bad haircut;
the runaway Skipper;
the terminal illness of Jazzercise Barbie,
that all along I was playing a merciless god,

And it was at that moment
I was done with Barbies for good,
moving on to the pretty,
Roman Catholic boys
of St. Anselm's Parish;
once French kissing an alter boy,
who resembled Ralph Macchio
of The Karate Kid
during an innocuous, pubescent
closet game of Seven Minutes
in Heaven
at Jen's twelfth birthday party,
down in her basement,
where I used to talk to myself
for hours.

Carolynn Kingyens is the author of two poetry collections: Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound and Coupling, both published by Kelsay Books and available on Amazon. In addition to poetry, Kingyens writes essays, book and film reviews, and short fiction. She is presently working on the completion of a short fiction manuscript with the working title Attachment Theory that consists of twelve short stories, ten of the twelve stories previously published. Her short story "Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie" was selected for Best of Fiction List, 2021, by Across the Margin, a Brooklyn arts and culture webzine. She has been married to her husband and best friend for almost twenty-three years, and they share two beautiful, kind, and very creative daughters.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

My Mother is Not a Crier by Sharon Waller Knutson

and neither am I, so I am not surprised
she is not sobbing when she calls me
and says, I tried to wake your father,
but he was cold and blue. The paramedics
are on their way. Please hurry.

I drive clear across town, expecting to see
my father sitting in his recliner drinking
a cup of hot coffee and I prepare to hand him
his carton of Camels and box of chocolates
he told me to buy him the night before.

We stand frozen as two men wheel a black bag
out of the bedroom. Do you want an autopsy?
a policeman asks my mother. We both stare
speechless. We are two marooned sailors
lost at sea. He thinks we killed daddy, I whisper.

I’m off shift, he says, I’ll be happy to stay.
But we smile and say we are fine. When I return
the cigarettes and candy unopened, the clerk
is confused. My father is dead. My voice cracks
like thin ice on a deep lake where I am skating.

Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist and a widely published poet who lives in a wildlife habitat in Arizona. She has published ten poetry books including: What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say (Kelsay Books 2021,) Survivors, Saints, and Sinners (Cyberwit 2022), and The Vultures are Circling (Cyberwit 2023.) Her poems have appeared most recently in ONE ART, Black Coffee Review, Verse-Virtual, and Your Daily Poem. She is the editor of Storyteller Poetry Review.