Monthly Archives: June 2019

“Portrait of My Mother” by Kathy Nelson

My mother sits in profile on the photographer’s stool,
one arm draped over crossed knees, the other behind her.
White crinoline and ruffles. Classic pose. Scuffed shoes.

She is taking that single breath between girl and woman.
The ripening plum of her mouth. The start of softness
above the narrow velvet ribbon of her empire waist.

Nights, she listens from her bed to slamming doors,
the late thunder of tires on oyster shells in the drive.
Or her mother rouses her from sleep, commands her

to yell her father’s name from the car, embarrass him―
he and his tart carousing at the open-air bar. She’s
a conscript in her mother’s war. What she longs for―

her father’s love. He’s bound to his pocket flask.
Mornings, she sits at the piano, as her mother requires,
plays scales and études. Duty over desire. I want to break

the glass over the portrait, let her out. I want to tell her:
set the house on fire, let them wonder if you drowned
in the canal, run away to Kathmandu in your scuffed shoes,

Kathy Nelson (Fairview, North Carolina) is the author of two chapbooks―Cattails (Main Street Rag, 2013) and Whose Names Have Slipped Away (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Asheville Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, Broad River Review, and Southern Poetry Review.

“Depression” by Doug Van Hooser

I fail like a slogan. A frozen can of soda

            that cracks the pop-top, thaws and whispers

                        it’s carbonation. Flat as cold,

I wander the sidewalks of suburbia,

            look through windows, see the unuttered invitation

                        of furniture. If only there was a message

in the envelope addressed to me.

            It arrives with no return address.

                        The wind doesn’t yell or even sigh.

No leaves to shake in the trees.

            A culvert runs under the road,

                        too small to fit through.

The teeter-tooter of chemical imbalance

            won’t shift its weight. Hibernation

                        a dreamless sleep,

I grant myself custody of my aloneness.

Doug Van Hooser’s poetry has appeared in Chariton Review, Split Rock Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, and Poetry Quarterly among other publications. His fiction can be found in Red Earth Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Bending Genres Journal. Doug is a playwright active at Three Cat Productions and Chicago Dramatists Theatre.