William Doreski: “Beastly”

Beastly
 
You doubt horses. Soulful
but treacherous, their gaze returns
no investment. They’re spooked by
everything that also spooks you.
Their manure production daunts.
When you were five, a horse swung
 
its heavy head and knocked you cold.
Now every horse daydreaming
in a field elicits comment. If
so husky a critter gets colic
how do you comfort it? Can’t
cuddle in your lap, can’t cower
 
dog-shaped at your feet. Maybe
we whose beards grow nightly
understand large clumsy fragile
animals better than you, better
than even adolescent girls
who love to straddle horses
 
with tender and luscious thighs.
Maybe the essence of the horse
dwells in the history of abuse—
beaten while lashed to carts,
gunned down in hundreds of wars,
starved, tortured, overbred, raced
 
until their legs break in protest.
You doubt their intentions
and read their soft eyes the way
a child reads hard liquor swirling
in the dark of parental words.
Maybe we should adopt a horse
 
from the animal rescue league
and name it after each other
and let it graze and graze and graze
without asking anything of it
and see how long it outlives us
under blue so shiny it hurts.

 

William Doreski‘s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).
 

Kenneth Pobo: “Handwriting and Fire”

Handwriting and Fire

Run? Don’t bother.
Cower? Hide behind potatoes
in the cellar. For a minute.

Your life has come down
to a whisper–
you miss what gets said.
Watching

cities explode, you feel
millions of people
burning,
each inside you.
Open your mouth–
coffins fall out.

You think that if you move
to the countryside you’ll relax.
You stay put, a brown leaf
under snow.

Fear does little well,
but it has good handwriting.
It writes your name
under your fingernails.
Your fingers catch fire.
It spreads quickly.

 

Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared in: Colorado Review, Nimrod, Red Cedar Review, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.

Jim Zola: “My Daughter’s Day in Court”

My Daughter’s Day in Court

For now the sky agrees
with me. One enormous stratus,
a hint of rain. I’m going over
my list of worries. Check, check, check.
None amiss. This morning
I told my daughter to dress
appropriate for the occasion.
She wears a maroon skirt,
work boots and a Beatles top.
All she wants is to stay
in bed twenty-four seven.
Even when she is gone,
the shape of her stays behind.
Later, I promise
I will take her to the movie
she is dying to see,
where we will sit in the hushed
dark, forgot our worries
and come out to a night
that is at least forgiving.

 

Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook–The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press)–and a full-length poetry collection–What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.

Susan L. Leary: “The Matryoshka Doll”

The Matryoshka Doll

I’m not that old. But lately, that has become
a significant word. Because my family
is planning their burial. Another afternoon
conversation on the phone. There’s only four
of us—myself, my husband, my parents,
so it should be easy. My mother wants us
buried like Matryoshka dolls, one inside
the other, a wooden womb. Three of us
will be cremated, and depending on who goes
first, any combination of ashes will do—
my husband with my father, my father with
my mother. I’m to live longest,
laid in my coffin a peasant girl or Soviet leader
or as the fairytale figure the innermost baby
sees in her dreams. And huddled within
the layers of linen will be all of life’s pretty
jars, however many there are. Such is the only
way we know to show love, to process that
it’s all going away. So we run happily,
if not humorously, to our graves, one by one
by one.

 

Susan L. Leary is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her most recent creative work appears or is forthcoming in Steel Toe Review, The Copperfield Review, After the Pause, and Verse-Virtual.

Richard King Perkins II: “Our Antechamber”

Our Antechamber

Within the supple worlds of your giving
I turn away from the red sage of evening

we have both known so well.
The sun has burned us with nimble kisses

but left our skin untouched
outside the nuzzle and pirouette of time.

The delicate chablis of your voice
pours around intricate corners and plum motifs

into a negative dimension
of scorpions and squash blossoms

and in this antechamber,
this suspension of scarlet turning autumn

you’ve helped me to become someone
I could almost love.

 

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA, with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.