Monthly Archives: April 2020

African Rice by John Short

First night it’s all hugs and kisses
presents and rich food, then
as the days wear on I’m an errand boy:
sent out for a ton of frozen fish
or olive oil in demijohns,
sacks of African rice
dragged back from the store
then heaved up narrow stairs and:
could you pop across the road for wine,
you know the one I mean?
It’s as well we don’t live together
or this would never have lasted six years.
A romance in small doses –
we sip it like brandy, cautiously
and sometimes I wonder
if this is what I signed up for
until we take the train to Barcelona,
hit the bars and she’s dynamite
and I’m floating down Avignon street.

John Short lives in Liverpool (UK) and has been published in magazines such as Yellow Mama, Rat’s Ass Review, The Blue Nib, Poetry Salzburg, Barcelona Ink, French Literary Review, Envoi, Sarasvati and South Bank Poetry. His collection Those Ghosts (Beaten Track) will appear hopefully later this year.

Because I Like to Make My Mind Pretty the Way We’re Told to Make our Bodies Pretty, I Work at Thinking Beautiful Things by Rebecca Macijeski

My imagination kitchen
fills with a hundred giraffes
crouching to help with dishes.
My bathrobe is made of cloud.
The houseplants debate each other
over dinner, wrinkling their leaves
in thought. My nail trimmings
are little moons. I watch the backyard birds
become helicopters hauling their bird knowledge
in and out of trees. When my fingers make food,
they’re searching through time for fire and caves
and simple families. I remember my childhood
as a series of collections—blackberries in my hand,
snowmen, river stones, the sound of deep sky
over a rural emptiness.

Like you, too, I suspect,
I clothe my worry
in these decorations.
It’s harder to hate a beautiful thing.
It’s harder to hate what I’ve made
when it shines or quacks or spreads
bright juice all over my skin.
I protect myself. So my armor is
these imaginations.
Wild animals crowding out the pain.

Rebecca Macijeski holds a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in The Missouri ReviewPoet Lore, Barrow Street, Nimrod, The Journal, Sycamore Review, Fairy Tale Review, Puerto del Sol, and many others. Rebecca is Creative Writing Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor at Northwestern State University.

Things to Be Grateful for During the American Winter by Michael Brockley

~For K.D.

The portrait of Harriet Tubman burbling in the ink of a twenty-dollar bill. The way hands can be cupped to form eagles and bison when the shadows on bedroom walls slip through the jet stream of your imagination. The way women’s boots never go out of style. The way wallets are cluttered with unclaimed lottery tickets and Chinese fortune scripts. Take pleasure knowing chaos theory honors the wisdom of Japanese butterflies. Cherish this year of lunar wonders. October’s Hunter’s Moon. The November moon so close a heroine could step off of her hometown street into zero gravity. Hold your memory of a president racing his puppy through the White House halls at Christmas. Celebrate the happy accident of the newest blue and the oldest cherished songs. Sing Hallelujah! Thank the fog. Thank the way persimmons ripen during hard frosts. The taste of haiku lingering on your tongue. Take comfort in the assurance that scarves will always fit. Be grateful for the circle of light dancing above your head. It guardians the secrets in your eyes. Be grateful for the photographs of your most embarrassing moments. Be grateful for the impossible challenges before you. Be grateful knowing that, for this hour, gratitude is enough.

Michael Brockley is a 68-year old semi-retired school psychologist who still works in rural northeast Indiana. His poems have appeared in Atticus Review, Gargoyle, Tattoo Highway and Tipton Poetry Journal. Poems are forthcoming in 3Elements Review, Clementine Unbound, Riddled with Arrows and Flying Island. 

 

Balm by Anne Whitehouse

A parade of goats clambered down the path,
bells clanging. Between two cliffs
jutting out to sea was a green valley
with a gray road like a fallen ribbon
surrounded by palm groves
and little houses like white sugar cubes
sprinkled down the slope.

The ocean crashed against the cliffs,
frothing white on dark blue, and puffy
white clouds massed on the horizon
beyond the shadowy shapes of distant islands.
The air smelled of sweet juniper, as I bit
into the soft flesh of a ripe fig
and basked in the warm sun.

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016). She has also written a novel, Fall Love, which is now available in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes by Compton Press. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. . She lives in New York City. www.annewhitehouse.com

Other poems on ZPR by this poet: A Dog’s Life, Dance in a Drugstore, Shadows

 

Blackbird by Yvette R. Murray

(on Nina Simone’s “Blackbird”)

A dot sprouted in the universe
She wanted, she wanted, wanted flight
Doubt filled her hollow bones with sand
and night kept her black wings from rising.

How could there ever be enough tears
for an orphaned bird still at the nest?
How could fear ever make her sun rise
or drip moonlight rest into her soul?

No place wanted a black bird like this.
Nowhere a hometown she can call near.
A little sorrow can hold a soul back
and force the brightest of lights to roam.

Nina Simone: February 21, 1933 to April 21, 2003

Yvette R. Murray received her B.A. in English from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She has been published in Fall Lines, The Petigru Review, Catfish Stew, Genesis Science Fiction magazines and online.  Presently, she is working on her first collection of poetry and a children’s book series.

Landing in Snow-Covered Landscape by Anneliese Schneider

I take the comfort from
the seasons’ soft edges

That this is not time.

The ice that holds your
footprint slides upwards
into my bones

We must step—
Carefully. Slower, now.

I have been thinking
that all snow is
       some form
            of falling

Soon it will be time
to forget the old fear,

slipping off
the wrong side
of that darkened line.

Anneliese Schneider is currently an undergraduate student, living in Virginia and pursuing a personal interest in poetry and literature.

Sound the Trumpet by Edith Friedman

All hail the trash-talking bball players, high-voiced sixth graders,
out on the courts this early summer evening
I curve my bike through San Pablo Park.
The city took the big oaks last year, but the fields are lush and broad
and the sunset sky is full of treasure.
Here at the border of have and have not
there’s a shooting about three times a year.

Four months since the last one took a grandfather to the ICU.
We’re nervous, but we can’t live inside.
At noon today the park was full for Eid al Fitr, prayers in the open
a woman in a burqa walked down my block with her package of food
then a family on bikes, dad and two little girls
long handlebar streamers and flowered helmets.
Flowing garments, people laughing,
full plates on laps, smell of grilled meats.

Tonight softball players race across the June grass.
The scofflaw dog owners, out in force
cluster deep in right field
as the bright lights come on.
Back home, praise the boy who unloaded the dishwasher unbidden
now he’s lacing up basketball shoes
bigger than dinner plates.

The gleaming crescent moon clutches her drab mother
but you always go back to the park.
I say, don’t come home too late.

Edith Friedman is sheltering in California with her partner and two stunned and bored sons. Her work has appeared in Sisyphus Literary Magazine. She studies Writing at California College of the Arts.

 

Maybe It was Spring by Luanne Castle

or winter
and there were nine girls or seven.
Certainly it was overnight church camp
when we formed a second
skin around Lacy
with our fingertips.
What happened wasn’t a dream unless
a mass dream dreamed en masse.
We were one organism,
the skin we made stretched
tautly like a drumhead, lifting
up the girl Lacy, a musical offering.
Our song flowed in and from us,
all seven or nine, with Lacy the melody.
But one of us must have felt an itch
and discovered she was separate
and, doing so, withdrew her touch.
An epidemic followed
from this undoing until Lacy’s body
shared many points
of contact with the floor.
I remember looking under her
just before and noting
her two inches above it all
though of course that is ridiculous
because it wasn’t a dream.


Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award.  Her first poetry collection, Doll God (Aldrich), was winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University.  Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, Glass, Verse Daily, and other journals.

Hurt Friends by Max Reese

this body of mine used to be
all papercuts and scraped knees,
beestung summers clinging to our heels and sunburn blushing
across our cheeks;
you showed up to the picnic with bruises and I thought nothing
of it – clumsy boys will fall
as they please.
I never knew a home could be a gravesite until
you moved away and the grass overgrew
the porch steps.
I wish I could have saved you,
back then,
but we were both so far away and so hurt
we could never go back to our new skin,
to the blackberry stained mornings
when there were no broken bones,
or hearts —
only fireflies and cherry coke.

Max Reese is from Reno, Nevada, and currently attends the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as a sophomore. Max is long-time, self-taught poet whose mother instilled a love of poetry in him from a young age.

Listening To Poetry That I Don’t Understandby John F. McMullen

I sit in the audience
and listen attentively
trying to make sense
of what the poet
is reading.

I wonder whether there is anyone
who doesn’t understand what I write
I think not because I write very
clearly (or so I think).

Others may write about important
issues but in such unclear poetry that
I am not able to grasp their meaning.
Why is that, do you think?

Is my lack of comprehension
the fault of the writer or of me?
Whatever?
I clap anyhow.

After all
they clap for me.

John F. McMullen is a writer, poet, college professor and radio host. Links to other writings, Podcasts, & Radio Broadcasts at his web home, www.johnmac13.com, his books are available on Amazon (bit.ly/johnmac), he may be found on Facebook, LinkedIn & Skype as johnmac13 and he blogs at Medium — https://medium.com/@johnmac13. He is also a member of ACM, American Academy of Poets, and Freelancers Union

Today the dog is tired of me by DS Maolalai

Today the dog is tired of me

and all my writing
poems. she comes
and sits in the kitchen,
with her tail banging
and a growling cough. she doesn’t like it; my writing
these poems in the kitchen – she likes walking
and going to the garden sometimes. she’d be ok, I think,
if for just once
I’d write on the sofa. she could sit up
next to me, curl her head
in. I get my hands under
and place her on the table,
hoping for some inspiration,
and go back. she grumbles to get down again
and goes to bed grumbling.
I look at her;
look at the poems
I’ve wrote, look out the window.
perhaps
we are both
diminishing.

DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)

All This Because of a Polish Ship by Jan Chronister

On April 5 at 2:21 p.m.
the first “saltie” arrives
and Duluth joins the rest of the world.

It’s been a long winter
as it always is.
Snow-blanket lies tattered,
streets potted with holes.
We actually have to worry
about food thawing out in our cars.

Flowerpots appear on porches,
we find all the things
we forgot to bring
in last October, still-green
Christmas trees found
as far as we could throw them.

Jan Chronister’s full-length poetry collection Caught Between Coasts was published in 2018 (Clover Valley Press). She currently serves as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. More about Jan and her work is at www.janchronisterpoetry.wordpress.com