Finding Her Voice
 
God looked at everything He had made
and He found it very good. Evening came
and morning followed— the sixth day.  Genesis 1:31

      
And then
a red-brown cry
erupts from inside the new man
God’s own creation--
snap of a rib
first blood drawn
first pain
a busted alleluia
answered with nasal complaints
from raw umber mountains
valleys begin a hum deep in their green throats
river deltas wail in b-flatted blue notes
and He looks at the fractured bone in His own hands
feels the tremble
of a crystal soprano
trying out the full rainbow of her register
scatting over virgin seas and lands
filling her breasts with that sweet high C
enough to feed the multitudes
and on the seventh day
He tries to rest.





Marilyn Shapley




Marilyn Shapley is a graduate of LSU, and lives in Baton Rouge where she and her husband are small business owners.  Her poems have been published in several college journals, including The Delta Journal, Louisiana Literature, The Comstock Review, and Riverrun 2 ,where she won a first prize.
 
 

Egrets


Egrets, she said, the white.
she repeated.
They filled the yard:
strut and announcement
of all-colored presence.
She watched.
I watched her.  She stood
by the coulee, slipped off
her sandal, dipped her toe,
and wrote our parish name
into the slow water.
I wished I was praying
to grass as once I did.
I wished some clever word
could woo her whiteness.  Well.
There are means of love. You learn
the currents.  You know
toe from tow.  You discover
what's under your feet.
You think you're looking at egrets,
but it's the mind that's white.
There are feathers.  It might fly.
At worst, it's some highway
where they rise, confused
by cars but unharmed.  Love
comes like grass, unasked for,
where egrets find their food
after I've spent all day
mowing.  The sweat pours down.
I look at her in the garden:
one foot is out of its sandal;
a toe is writing in the dirt,
digging out of the earth our name.





Michael Alleman




Michael Alleman is an Associate Professor of English at Louisiana State University Eunice. His poems have been published in The Louisiana Review, and has poems forthcoming in Chiron Review. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. He lives with his wife Angela just outside Lafayette, Louisiana
 
 

Damn Fool Concept of Note

              I

I read that a water bed 
has been developed for cows
and think, they couldn’t
have started there, maybe
snakes first.  I fantasize
a bag of serpents let out 
to shift their bellies into
oscillations against a feeling
new within the universe 
of greater snakedom.  Maybe
two of the six released,
linger atop the bed under 

the eyes of two professors 
so hard bitten by the lure 
of science that they can hardly 
talk to their wives anymore.
I see dark stubble across these
North Dakota prof’s chins.
I smell the reek of coffee
from the backs of their throats
as they bark at graduate assistants 
to go easy picking up a 
wayward rattler by the files.

Now there is only one 
snake left on the water bed. 
It is on its back, belly up
like never before.  All its
side winding fervor gone
still, slow, stirless.  Eyes  
blink dim with yes, and yes, 
and yes.  Release.  One snake, 
one hour, so far from sand,
muck, stars.  One snake,
given over to how we want to be. 

                   II

Then I come upon the actual web-site 
about some big-shouldered, shy 
farmer-guy in Ohio who figured 
a way to make a waterbed 
“for the comfort” of his cows.
  
You try lying easy on your hocks 
with a ton of beef to hoist.
Seems the bony prominence’ 
get such pressure from bare ground, 
wears the hide straight through. 
Infections: flies, eggs, fester.

Not for this Clem
who’s got the happy beef
swishing around all mid day,
munch a munch of alfalfa;
sawdust for to roll in.
If they weren’t just
headed toward the hammer
life could be so sweet.





Ed Ruzicka




Ed Ruzicka has published one full length volume, “Engines of Belief - Engagement in Modern Art (Abenbook, 2014), and his work will appear in the anthology “Maple Leaf Rag, Volume 5" set for release Aug.3, 2014.  He was a finalist in the Atlanta Review Poetry Contest and has appeared in a variety of literary journals.  Ed lives in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, and is an occupational therapist.
 
 

Cookout
 
Evening settles on the lake
like snowfall on the prairie.
Wind drops, the gray of the water
subtly softens.  Calm expands.
 
Beside a column of white smoke
above a sparking charcoal grill,
like air bubbles from the lake floor
bursts of laughter rise, and vanish.
 
Friends, fire, food, light
slap of wavelets on the shore,
intimate as fingertips.  Hunger
and joy, under a dark, silent sky.





Llyn Clague




Llyn Clague’s poems have been published widely in journals such as California Quarterly,Atlanta Review, Wisconsin Review, Main Street Rag, Palo Alto Review, Ibbetson Street, The Avalon Literary Review and other magazines.  His seventh book, Hard-Edged and Childlike, has just been released by Main Street Rag.  Visit www.llynclague.com.
 
 
Who Will Care


Who will hear if a baby cries
And who will answer when a child asks why.
Who will feed the hungry man
And who will dare to take a stand.
Who will mend the broken heart
Of a woman afraid,
Alone, apart.

Who cares enough to hold the hand
Of the soldier dying on foreign land.
Who'll dry the tears that a mother cries;
Who will remember their sacrifice.

Who will pray to God above
To show us grace, and how to love.
Who'll build a fire to keep us warm
To lead us home from the raging storm.

Who will care if the truth is told,
Of the lives that were bought
And the souls that were sold.
Who will pay the ultimate cost
Of nothing gained
And everything lost.

Who will care.







Karen Teich-Cluster





Karen Teich-Cluster first wrote while in the sixth grade and won an essay contest open to the whole school.  She has been writing since, and hopes to soon have a book of her poetry published.  She is a member of The Pensters of the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, Alabama, where she resides.  She has three children and three grandchildren.
 
 

In the Budding Green
                                for Al Stewart
 

In the budding green
and awakened air of morning
 
when the days blush
and the fat hills preen themselves
 
I will look for you
just beyond the far woods
 
where the Deptford pinks
strut and sway their lyrics
 
where red fox will perk her ears
to man or gun or kit
 
where the wild crab smears
its fragrant mysteries
 
where the eye croons
at the smallest sling of color
 
where sun's bed sparks
the gaudy dust of belief
 
and the moon entices
the vanished from their hiding





Allison Thorpe




Allison Thorpe is the author of Thoughts While Swinging a Wild Child in a Green Mesh Hammock (Janze Publications), Swooning and Other Art Forms (a NFSPS chapbook winner),What She Sees: Poems for Georgia O'Keefe (forthcoming from White Knuckle Press), and To This Sad and Lovely Land (runner-up in 2014 Gambling the Aisle Chapbook Contest). Recent work appears or is forthcoming in South85 Journal, Scapegoat Review, The Meadow, The Citron Review, Front Range Review, Green Mountains Review, Trickster, Freshwater, Clapboard House, Third Wednesday, Appalachian Heritage,  Agave Magazine, Naugatuck River Review, and Motif v4 - seeking its own level: an anthology of writings about water, among others.  A Pushcart nominee, she is currently working on her first novel.
 
 
Contingencies

                    1.

It only happened once to me, winning a game
with a single blow—walk-off homer--
part intention, part hope. So long ago
that the designation "walk-off"
hadn’t yet been used.

Remember Housman’s “To an Athlete
Dying Young”? I’m glad I was no athlete
and that it wasn’t me. Just as bourbon
takes a keg, I’ll take my failures
and be happy in them. I can’t reckon
how I got sufficient bat on the ball
to make it clear the fence.

Admitting that most things happen for no reason
makes us uncomfortable, contingency flashing
moment to moment like twilit sparrows
ranging between trees, between silences.

                   2.

People who say that nothing is an accident
are lunatics. Everything is an accident.
and lunatic is the right word, with the right
derivation: the extrapolation of tidal force
into something it’s not. The moon is large
and so must love large things, like oceans.
Our humors are beneath it, like sand flea
sex to us, or the amors of dust mites.

Plans too are accidental, incommensurable quarks
invested in choices never made. The coral reef
of human will is just that, a reef
of endless apartments--
swank, gutted, boarded, locked, rent by the hour,
split-level, with Jacuzzi, fixer-upper.

                   3.

A cancer cell in the body of a boyhood
friend migrates. Tumors start. A leg is lost
and then a continent, a universe--
the funniest teenager I ever knew,
brave beyond all reason, with a culture
in his head vaster than the library at Alexandria--
Wilson Pickett and Brother Dave.
Without his leg, he said, he could make out
from amazing positions—front seat, back seat,
dashboard. And I was envious.

Nothing is ever the same, and there are days
I hate that life goes on. But what’s to do?
Loss superseded by more loss.

                    4.

Today I will wear a hat,
and everything will change. Good morning
will whistle the birds, and the heaven
of no map will open.

When you tilt your best hat
on your head just so, and it stays there,
women smile, kids laugh, and the bookies
who bet on destruction stop and say,
what a hat, sunlight reaching deep
into the dew palaces.





Richard Nester




Richard Nester has published poetry in numerous journals, including
Ploughshares, Callaloo, Tikkun, and Floyd County Moonshine, and most
recently on-line in Danse Macabre. His work has been anthologized in Cape
Discovery
, a publication of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown,
where he has twice been a fellow. His essays on social justice have
appeared in the Catholic Agitator, a publication of the Los Angeles
Catholic Worker.

 
 
Midnight River

It's the end of this day,
tight eyelids slide down,
razor-edged, with sleep inclination.
Gutter mouthed with all the old
words on my lips, I close up,
my mind surveyed and bitten
into like Swiss cheese, 
the cold, bitter settle of vinegar 
in my blood.
 
I am as tired as a mother,
with reality being as singular
as a pulled grape.

Like steam, I settle on the corners;
I evaporate like mists in heat.
I turn the bed and elongate my limbs
for the ride, that unhappy current
of uncontrollable fish snapping,

subconscious bait in a blanket.





Penney Knightly




Penney Knightly has been writing poetry for a decade. She is a member of The Writing Bridge, a selective online forum for writers. She is a survivor of child and adult sexual abuse, and explores themes based on the subject in her work. Her work has appeared in Raving Dove, a magazine featuring prose and poetry against physical and psychological oppression. She lives happily on the California coast with her Clydesdale horses Buttercup and Stargazer.
 
 

              Valentines  1
                                                                             
            The mallards and cranes go still, the waters
       sudden ice, perspective's blues imbuing
       distances.  Who would have counted or kept track,
       finding your timeless eyes, champagne

       at half-past one, yourself as the holding, history,
       the amplitude, changing the space
       of half a century, and all of the Mondays, miles
       between, with inclination deepening?


           So billboards creep with precedence.  So chill
       strikes up its forms and de riguer, its tunes
       as old as overheating vehicles.  I think of the road-weasel
       threading weathers anyplace, of the hills ahead,
       of the tank trucks seeping east through this first month
       of the new year, questions of prior rights,
       of winter anniversaries.


            Let no one interrupt, the grade, the pitch of lot
       reminding me, entering, seeking scenes,
       finding these words at last to tell, these moments
       as you've authored.  When I had been less
       for seeming real, and less because, but sped, and sped
       to source imagining, less than the clouds
       might seem, blown across the face of light, with
       three days up to us, having allowed    
       ourselves, and, step by step, having taken
       the lyrics up, the forms from arcs
concentering and just.





           For all the diminished light!   For all the excitement
       meeting faces, warming our chilled lives,
       for all of the winter rain and country west of Crestline
       flattening, we are this warmth
       in one shared place, and this reading into it, old snows,
       old poems, all of these winter drafts
       we'd have the patience to revisit, these measures
       and turns, returning lights, and
       this happy smoothness, where all surprises
       flower, where love takes hold,
       filling every circle in.







Robert Lietz






Over 800 of Robert Lietz's poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals in the U.S. and Canada, in Sweden and U.K, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Colorado Review, Epoch, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah.  Eight collections of his poems have been published, including Running in Place (L’Epervier Press,). At Park and East Division ( L’Epervier Press,) The Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press,) The Inheritance (Sandhills Press,) and Storm Service (Basfal Books).  Basfal also published Robert's After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems.
 
 
Tashlich

Riparian devotees recite verses,
emptying pockets of lint and sins,
casting away transgressions
into the fresh autumnal current
of watercourses the world over.

These are the Days of Awe,
a calendric bridge spanning
Judgment Day and the Sabbath
of Sabbaths upon which
the Book of Life is annually resealed.

Will former trespasses be effaced
and the evil decree averted?
Penitent spirits gape into the river’s
deeps and shallows, lost in thought,
pondering a delta of potentials,
contemplating past deeds
while hoping whispered pleas
reach an audient deity.

But the mallards, gulls, and trout
aren’t overly concerned with pieties;
they are perfectly content to constellate
in rafts, flocks, and schools,
jostling to snatch kosher breadcrumbs
doffed and spattered,
twelve grain and whole wheat,
blissfully oblivious to weighty symbolism.






Brandon Marlon




Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. (Hon.) in Drama and English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry has been published variously in Canada, the U.S., England, Israel, and India. www.brandonmarlon.com.