a frog does not have a tail by Michael Coolen

I watched an old man finishing his evening prayers
when a boy squatted next to him and said
I hope you are at peace, grandfather
peace only the old man responded
and you, boy, are you at peace
no, grandfather, I have questions
keeping peace away
what questions asked the old man
my little brother just died for no reason
he just died grandfather
why did Ebrima die so young
why can’t my mother stop crying
why does Allah let bad things happen to good people
the old man sat quietly for a minute
domanding, domanding, domanding boy
he replied
le ka nowulu
little, little, little comes the understanding of Allah
even for me some things make no sense
you may as well ask a frog why it does not have a tail


Michael Coolen is a pianist, composer, actor, performance artist, and writer. His works have been published widely, including the Oregon Poetry Association and Creative Non-fiction. He is also a published composer, with works performed around the world, including at Carnegie Hall, MoMA, and the Christie Gallery in New York.

Valediction by Robert Beveridge

Valediction

It just doesn’t seem to matter to you if I’m here or not

Hiss of rain outside
the blank tape that ends the mix
unavoidably

You just ignore me

no more single drops
steady stream down the windows
grey light blurs to blue

goodbye

grey room,  air pregnant
with moisture
clouds on ceiling
will this rain ever end?


Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pink Litter, The Algebra of Owls, and Main Street Rag, among others.

Before Valentine’s Day by Kathamann

My clumsy suggestion lilts off my tongue
before any caution is exercised.  It closely
appears to clutch at palpable implications
thickening with its weak composition
and becoming courage.  The twisted
failure bends and shifts into my latest
list of blown communiqués.

I quell the urge to carry the heavy roar
of human impulse, worthy though they
may be, of robust vigor.  Guided to the
opposite, I sense minor implications reflected
with high gloss.

Keeping the cosmic sparrows from predicting
grim behind-the-scene news stories, a mere
move may generate chaos.


I am a returned Peace Corps Volunteer/Afghanistan and a retired registered nurse.  I have been active in the Santa Fe arts community for 30 years exhibiting in juried, group and solo exhibits.  (kathamann.com)  My poems have occasionally been published in local and regional anthologies.

School Bus by Michael Chin

He was tired on the ride home. His head dipped once—twice—

The fifth time, he slumped into me and caught himself. I looked straight ahead at the taped up alligator green seat back.

On the eighth dip, his head descended onto my shoulder more gently. Maybe he knew what he was doing. No jolt. He rested.

And I let him. I knew I shouldn’t. One boy sleeping on another was childish. Gay.

But I didn’t push him off or think of pulling away so he’d flop down on the seat.

I let him—I let him nestle in as I were his pillow. I let him snore. I thought I’d only stop him if he started to drool. That that was the limit.

But in the meantime, for the first time, I eased into the role of protector. The last line of defense from anyone writing on his face. From a wet willy.

I looked over his head, out the window and watched the way sign posts blurred into nothingness as the bus sped past them. As if the signs themselves were hovering and I could stick my hand right through the space beneath them. As if the laws of matter were subject neither to fact nor my will, but the whims of the space between what was and was not. In dream.


Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and a recent alum of Oregon State’s MFA Program..He won the Bayou Magazine’s Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has published work in journals including The Normal School and Bellevue Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

AWP Poets, Writers, Authors, and Teachers Plan Protests in DC

Usually around this time of year my Facebook and Twitter feeds are overrun with cheerful posts about the various AWP events that my friends and colleagues are planning to attend, but with all the attention-grabbing, anxiety-ridden news that has daily shocked social media these last few weeks, it’s almost as if everyone has forgotten.

They haven’t, of course. There are still shouts out among fellow writers and acquaintances trying to connect with each other, tips for first time attendees and, because this year’s conference is in DC, some encouraging chatter about several politically centered events.

Maybe what’s really happening here is that posts about AWP are just getting buried by all the fearful factoids and scary statistics swirling around all forms of media right now. Or maybe, and this is probably more likely, those are the posts I allow to capture and hold my attention.

I am struck, nonetheless, by the auspiciousness of AWP, a conference that attracts a wide range of diverse writers, taking place in DC just weeks after the inauguration and subsequent Women’s March and the more recent protests against the Muslim Travel Ban, and how this confluence of events adds gravity and weight to such typical pre-AWP activities as making travel arrangements, sending ahead boxes of books, making plans to see friends and, most importantly, contemplating what it means to be a writer in “Trump’s America.”

This year, in addition to looking forward to the book fair, after-hours parties, and copping a frenetic high from mixing adrenaline with too much alcohol and too little sleep, some conference-goers are looking forward to converging on Capitol Hill the afternoon of Friday, February 10th to “make a case against the Trump Agenda”(flavorwire.com) while others will be participating in Split this Rock’s  Saturday vigil and speakout on the White House lawn. There is also word of a Cave Canem protest-reading at Howard University and, no doubt,there will be numerous other off-site politically motivated events that are evolving even as I write this post.

It is my hope that these events are heavily promoted and heartily attended and that each receives ample news coverage and sets itself forth as stellar model for a successful, effective demonstrations by which others can emulate. Most of all, I hope these events will encourage other groups and individuals to speak out, to become active in whatever capacity makes sense for their circumstances, and that professionals who have the power and ability to make changes in Washington view these gatherings as encouragement for their continued vigilance in the resistance against tyranny. Most of all, I hope that writers and artists around the globe feel bolstered not to “keep their moths shut” as Steve Bannon would admonish, but to respectfully continue doing what they do best, which, of course, is to write on.

 

 

A Lesson in Romantics by Danielle Lowery

A Lesson in Romantics
-Mayday Parade

I am a machine and a skitzo.
A savage cave woman
and a drone.
I scratch at every movement
Every wrong word
Every memory,
Like the beaten stray cat
on the street corner.

Never enough oil to grease my joints
Never enough medication to silence the storm,
I am stiff  and enraged.

Swallowed by the quicksand
enveloping me for so long,
One fourth of my life
devoted to your every need,
One fourth of my life
destroyed by your massive greed.

You were a Dragon,
a Siren,
a Leech.
For five years  I never knew,
I never imagined  the traitor  was you.


Danielle Lowery is a Senior at Chatham University. Her fiction has been published in The Minor Bird. Danielle has studied Creative Writing at both Sweet Briar College and Chatham University.

 

When a Poet Meets a Hurricane: Life After Matthew

When Hurricane Matthew swept through Charleston last October, saturating the ground with rain water and whipping up high winds, the roots of the large hickory tree in our neighbor’s yard loosened their grasp on the soil beneath them. Like any tree in high wind, especially ones with compromised roots, the hickory thrashed back and forth in the storm until, at last, it fell.

My husband and I, along with our cat, had evacuated to Kansas City and were safe and sound in my mother’s living room, enjoying her company and a sense of being “home.”  We would not know for another day or two that that hickory tree landed on and crushed the back corner of our house, taking the power line and electric meter with it.

file_004The news came via phone from friends who live nearby and who had, when learning we’d evacuated, offered to drive by and check on our house. They sent pictures by text and we cast them onto my mother’s television. The tree, as long as our house is wide, appeared to be swallowing our new home, and though we could see that the roof had been crushed where the tree had hit, we couldn’t tell how much damage was sustained or how far back it went. We wondered if the entire roof wasn’t compromised.

The drive home was somber and tense, our minds full of worst case scenarios. We drove until dark the first day, then checked into a hotel for the night. No sense in driving all the way to Charleston where there were no hotel vacancies, we’d reasoned.

As directed by our insurance company after filing our online insurance claim, I called the file_000mitigation company we’d been referred to as soon we arrived at the house the next evening. The sun was just setting, the sky was blue, and the wind was still. The man on the other end of the line, Lorne, asked me to describe the damage to him. I tried to be as specific as I could as I walked through and around the house verbally noting how large the hole in the roof, how flooded the laundry room, how wet the ceilings and walls, how damaged the flooring throughout…..at the end of our conversation Lorne asked me if the house was habitable.

Well, there’s a gaping hole in the roof and no power, I told him. So, no, I don’t think it is habitable. 

That was four months ago. Since then my husband and I have been shuffled from hotel room (where we lived for over six weeks) to two-bedroom apartment  (into which we fit three additional family members over the holidays). I cannot begin to list all the untruths and delaying tactics we have been subjected to or the patience we’ve had to tap into each time someone asks us for our claim number (they know damn well who we are!) or tells us “everything’s behind schedule because of the hurricane.”

It took over a week for both the field adjuster and the tree removal people to arrive. When they showed up the same morning, they got into each other’s way and the field adjuster was unable to make a complete inspection. It took another two or three weeks for the City Building Inspector to look at the property, and that was only because our general contractor waited for him outside his office every morning for a week. More recently, the building permit was delayed because there is no plat for the house and the plat surveyor is behind and won’t be out for another three weeks. New trusses for the roof, which will have to be ordered, are on a four week delay. And even before all of this, it took 30 days for the desk adjuster to provide the (ridiculously low) initial estimate; another 30 for him to respond to the (much higher) estimate our GC provided.

Meanwhile my husband and I are juggling phone calls with insurance agents, adjusters, and contractors, packing our belongings in boxes to be moved out of the house and into we don’t know where (there were no storage pods left in the city), maintaining our teaching duties, preparing for the holidays, checking on our cat housed at friends’, and explaining over and over again to our family and colleagues what had happened. At times, it felt impossible to keep up with all the demands of the situation much less basic needs, like healthy food and quality, anxious-free sleep.

My husband and I are still in the apartment the insurance company arranged for us and while things are generally calmer and we have found a workable rhythm to life, reconstruction has yet to begin on the house and we don’t really know when it will. There’s still a slew of paperwork to wade through and dependence on the cooperation of a couple of other bureaucratic entities to secure. So while the rest of the city has pretty much recovered and moved on from Hurricane Matthew, we continue to wait for resolution.

It was not until this week that I was able to put my full attention on Zingara Poet. I could see that my poor pet project was listing on the waves, submissions and emails neglected since late September despite every intention, even the hiring of an intern, to respond to submissions in a more speedy manner this year. Yet I did not want to bring my anxious energy to my poetry reading. I’ve leaned that the two just don’t mix — so kept putting it off until I was in better spirits.

I am glad to say that, as of this writing, most of the October and November submissions have been reviewed and responded to. In the week to come, I will be looking over the rest of December submissions and sending out my decisions. Likewise, poems for most of the first half of 2017 have been chosen and their dates of publication scheduled (only a few spots left). With luck, I will be able to enter the new submission period (later this year) caught up and, I am keeping my fingers crossed here, from the comfort of my own home.

Thanks to all the poets out there who have waited patiently for a response. As always, I am impressed by the quality and breadth of the selection.