Joseph Saling: “Getting On”

Getting On

You never knew what we were about, so days
turned to pebbles in your shoe. You wanted
to quit the path, sow seed and watch it grow.
But that place was not for us. I tried to take
the bundled twigs you carried to build a fire,
but you had chosen each the way a child
gets seashells at the beach and wants the next
to be better than the last, coated with pearl.

You often asked where we were going, but I
didn’t hear; the wind was so strong it swallowed your voice.
You’d scan the edge of sky but found nothing
to see. At night you’d walk away from where
I lay until I became as distant as
the stars that seasoned the dark. The sun and cold
made our skin like leather; our souls immune to time.

One day we saw a colony of ants
go marching off to war. You followed them
until you saw their swift red current swirl
into a sea swelling with death then watched
as red pygmies clashed with giants, picking up
their dead and dragging their black bodied foe behind.
Later you cried. And when I asked you why,
you couldn’t say beyond its awful silence.

We came on houses built among the rocks
and gardens spackling the earth. You asked to stop
to splash your face with water from their wells,
to rock on weather-grayed porches and feel the touch
of another woman’s voice besides your own.
Later, you found stones and showed me pictures of birds
rising unimpeded toward the sun.

In towns where farmers sold fresh fruit, we walked
among them, sat with them at night. I heard you laugh
and saw their light reflecting in your eyes.
Brighter than the stars, softer than the moon.
A mountain crazed the rim of heaven’s bowl.
A city rose like the mountain’s child. Its streets
flowed like liquid music, its walls shimmered
like pearl in the morning sun, its windows blazed.

You said I should go ahead. You said you’d stay.
I lost my way. Against a wall of stone,
I watched the lights rise from the city. I
had nothing to do but wait for dawn to creep
across the sky, erasing stars. The world
around me shivered with sound, a staccato dawn,
the polyphonous hillside spotted with bird song.

And I had somewhere else I needed to be.
Having seen the wonders of liquid music and glass
on fire and you becoming you, I turned
and made my way down the mountain’s other side.

 

Joseph Saling‘s book A Matter of Mind is available from Foothills Publishing. He is the runner up for the 2016 Bacopa Literary Review Prize for Fiction from the Writer’s Alliance of Gainesville, and his poetry and short fiction have appeared widely in such journals as The Raintown Review, The Formalist, The Bacon Review, Blue Lake Review, and Carcinogenic Poetry.

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Jake Montgomery: “Chamber”

Chamber

The room needs space
to watch the bridge lift the road
from mist and water. Between
calm and terror. The room seems.

Have you ever been alone
inside a submarine? Is that
what death is like? The sun fades.
You are the surface and below it,

there is nothing of your body,
only surface, waves washed into voice,
and voice into water, water into nothing,
a clean quiet wall of submarine:

a fine pale blue. The first day
of death, you think you are in
the sky similar to the first day
of living, but without the shapes.

You have lived a life, for Christ’s
sake, made love: invent your own
shapes. The submarine goes on,
the walls move in. On Tuesdays,

Tuna, on Wednesdays bologna.
Sloppy Joe, Sloppy Joe, Sloppy Joe.
The room is tidily opaque,
full of only rubber, surrounded

by militaries of water. And water
and water filling the mind’s lung.
You wonder between breaths.
You want the why to cave in,

but the where is carved out, and location
makes a difference. There are no windows
from your thoughts to his or hers
or to those of Michelangelo.

You live as if tied to a tree, grown
inside a whale, dark wet blue
abacinated matter. Wallpaper
is a room’s heroic impulse, and

a backbone, the hero’s walls.
You are awake. Are you the hero?
Check for leaks. Check
the water pressure and scope

for enemies. Walk down the dark
tunnel. It smells of plastic container
and engine. It tastes of room. Walk through
the iron muck. The room belongs

to time. How long, how far the brink?
Have we been here your marriage’s
worth of memories? The room will ask
clearless, pewter questions

with lurches and stillness, bells and
drum. Listen to the room’s padded
walls become the limits of your thinking,
look out. See the empty carnival.

Your mother has died. Your father
has died. The walls are mephitic.
The submarine pushes your skin
beneath the soul, beneath all effort,

and vision greys in that guttering socket.
So hums the iron loom. You fashion
new lenses, and these models permit a strain
of blindness that caresses the room’s bunk

and chair into a memory, of theater.
The trumpets found you by the stairs,
to which your tired labor had brought
little fortune, until it appeared as change

in a pocket, a map in hand. That was youth.
Then the walls fell, as if the outside world existed,
and it may have been true. The room caught
the green night sky in your palm. You stood

under celestial upholstery
like under waterfall. You established
the brinks of ambition that allowed you
passage. You visited a friend in Cuba,

gazed through mist, at clouds over a park,
like through a window out of darkness
and drew tight circles on heaven’s back,
so sure of rainfall. You clapped your hands.

You clap them again like a whip,
expecting to find–what?–a way out?
No, you fall through the names
of your life, through the 50c post cards from

the Jean-Marie Newsstand, into the room.
Somewhere, children kick a ball against
temple stone, somewhere plans
for another outing. You walk inside the temple,

no: you pull the blanket close, lifting
a hatch in your mind to a further room,
one with less light, less sound, less memory,
fewer questions, an altar, less of you.

 

Jake Montgomery is from Southern New Jersey and currently lives in Iowa City, IA. He has studied poetry at Harvard University and the University of Iowa.

Nanette Rayman: “Delicate”

Delicate

It’s so gossamer, our freedom.
And it tears more winged each day. The enslavement
paves it over.
We thought our freedom was as sure and sweet
as Madeleines baked into a mold.
Just delicate moths, our freedom
in a boundless dark.

So let’s be porcelain with it.
Treasure it.
So red white and blue poppies will drench with it.
So our alphabet of this world will still be here.
I hope we will never be lost.

 

Nanette Rayman, poetry books, Shana Linda Pretty Pretty, Project: Butterflies, two-time Pushcart nominee, included in Best of the Net 2007, DZANC Best of the Web 2010, winner Glass Woman Prize. Publications: The Worcester Review, Sugar House Review (poem newpages.com), Stirring’s Steamiest Six, gargoyle, Berkeley Fiction Review, Editor’s Pick Green Silk Journal, chaparral, Pedestal, ditch, Wilderness House Literary Review, decomp, glass, Contemporary American Voices, featured poet at Up the Staircase Quarterly, Rain, Poetry & Disaster Society, Pedestal, DMQ, carte blanche, Oranges & Sardines, Sundog, Melusine.

 

Jonathan Douglas Dowdle: “The Hardest Light”

The Hardest Light

We move through a rain of glances,
Knowing houses are still built by hammers,
Thudding and thunderous
In the temples, and beneath the skin.
Thin as the construct of time, we skate
Through every story’s twitch and turn,
Where every moment frozen in memory
Is still awaiting its moment to burn.
What now, in these hours, desolate,
Should we bend before, and in utterance, pray,
If the avalanche of every other emotion
Is torn down by the ricochet?
Oh, let your heart fire in its chamber,
While all that could be, murmurs, through the night,
But we are left with the hammer, and the nail,
Building a house of
The hardest light.

 

Jonathan Douglas Dowdle was born in Nashua, NH, and has traveled throughout the US. He currently resides in South Carolina. Previous works have appeared or are appearing in: Hobo Camp Review, 322 Review, The Write Place at the Write Time, and After the Pause

Chase Spruiell: “monumental”

monumentalChase Spruiell was born in Denton, Texas. He spent the majority of the time in his life playing basketball, earning a full athletic scholarship at St. Edward’s University. He has a bachelor’s degree in Digital Cinema and currently resides in Austin, Texas where he writes music for his two projects: Half Man and Free Kittens & Bread.