Author Archives: Lisa Hase-Jackson

Behind the Bruised Peach by Kitty Jospé

I hold something resembling a fruit whose form
perhaps could pass as peach. We know the story:
starts as blossom, with the expectation of turning
into the honest-to-goodness jubilance of juicy
sun-ripe peach.

How to understand the truth of the matter?
It reminds me of my father’s lesson about the indelible
mark of a lie: he folded a piece of paper,
handed it back to us, saying, no matter
what you say, there is nothing you can do to get
rid of that telltale pleat. It is a hurt that will always
wear its scar—

like this rock of a fruit
bearing the marks of multiple beatings,
in a mass of fellow picked-too-soon fruits
under the sign “Fresh Peaches.”

Kitty Jospé, MA French Literature, New York University; MFA Poetry, Pacific University embraces the joy of working with language and helping others to become good readers of poems, people, life. Docent at the local art museum, moderator of two weekly poetry discussion groups, singer and pianist, she enjoys applying these skills in workshops on ekphrastic poetry. Her work is in 5 books, published since 2009 and numerous journals and anthologies.

Poetry Added to Annual Contest

South 85 Journal is adding POETRY to it’s summer literary contest this year with a $500 cash award. Our inaugural poetry judge is Denise Duhamel.

Full details, including information for the Flash Fiction contest, can be found below and on the South 85 Journal website.  Deadline for contest submissions is August 1st, 2020.


JULIA PETERKIN LITERARY CONTEST HONORS SOUTH CAROLINIAN AUTHOR
Winners in Each Genre will Receive $500 Prize Each

South 85 Journal, Converse College MFA program’s online literary journal, is adding poetry to it’s annual Julia Peterkin summer literary contest.

As in past years, the contest honors South Carolinian author Julia Peterkin, an1896 graduate of Converse College whose novel, Scarlet Sister Mary, received the Pulitzer in 1929.

Submissions are open from June 1 through August 1. One winner in each genre will receive a cash prize of $500 and four runners-up in each genre will be named and published alongside the winning selection in the Fall / Winter issue of South 85 Journal. Only the winners will receive a cash award.

Contest readers, composed of seasoned writers and MFA students, will review submissions and forward them to the presiding judges. Converse College MFA faculty member Marlin Barton will make the final selections for the Flash Fiction award and Converse College MFA faculty member Denise Duhamel will make the final selection for the Poetry award. All submissions will be read blind.

Submit your previously unpublished fiction of 850 words or less for consideration in the Flash Fiction contest or up to three previously unpublished poems of 50 lines or fewer for consideration in the Poetry contest.

For more information or to submit, visit the contest page on Submittable at https://south85.submittable.com/submit/118884/julia-peterkin-award-for-flash-fiction-500-prize.

Cotton and Coconut  by Michelle Grue

Phone turned off, but I can still hear the elegiac
wails of mothers unmade by bullets shot by
my money turned into taxes,
turned into uniforms with golden shields
more afraid of unarmed melanin than white
murderers

Generations of hatred that disregard the sanctity of Black lives
Black queer lives, young lives, old lives, ratchet lives, politics of respectability made flesh – none safe
Tragedy unpunished because of policies and laws and the comfortable
ignorance of everyday people unwilling to remove
rose-colored glasses that hide the reality of a
nation we love that we wish loved us back

I can’t un-see the latest viral video of generations of hope turned into a corpse,
but I can feel the black cotton in the field of my son’s head rub against my face.
I can smell the coconut as his hair tickles my nose.
I hear the hallelujah in every rustle his warm child body makes against mine.
I marvel at how he takes every scarred lump and fleshy cranny of my body and
remixes them into safety,
a sense of security I know is an illusion.

Hands that dump flour into a mixing bowl, that
tug mine as we count pinecones, that
hold mine as we dance to the Motown songs of my Dad’s
youth, my youth, now his youth
anchor me while I try not to hear the
haunting of
strange
fruit.


Michelle Grue is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She studies higher education pedagogy and Writing Studies through the lenses of intersectionality and critical digital literacies. She has previously published in Zingara Poetry Review, the fantasy journal Astral Waters Review, the Expressionists Magazine of the Arts, and DASH Literary Journal. Feeding her creative energies and making space during motherhood and graduate school life has been a challenging pleasure.

 

American Shop Windows by Rikki Santer

after “The Munich Mannequins” by Sylvia Plath

Mannequins lean tonight
sober-faced giraffes,

eyebrow apparitions, torsos
imagining animal pleasures.

Surrogate armies defend
molded nipples & navels,

postural idiosyncrasies
always captured ready

to wear. Tweens with their 
own rod & base, trail through 

the mall, libidos with fables 
glittering from cellphones.

Smoothies sustain them.
Credit cards explain them.

Suburban world trips the axis.
Selfies, like flatlined cameos, 

frame vapor tongues numb
under fluorescence.


Rikki Santer’s work has appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie, Hotel Amerika, The American Journal of Poetry, Slab, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Slipstream, Midwest Review and The Main Street Rag. Her seventh poetry collection, In Pearl Broth, was published this past spring by Stubborn Mule Press.

Interview with Poet Carol Smallwood by Carole Mertz

I am pleased to feature Carol Mertz’s interview with Carol Smallwood.

Carole Smallwood is an interviewer, editor, and literary judge. Her most recent book is Patterns: Moments in Time (Word Poetry, 2019). A multi-Pushcart nominee, she’s founded and supports humane societies. A collection is also forthcoming from Main Street Rag. Their conversation right after this poem by Smallwood:

We Select

a few—the selections random: a melody, morning fog, a path,
knowing with certainty at the time they’ll be ours to the end—
an imprinting sudden as first love with no thought of aftermath:
a sunset, muffled cry, a Thanksgiving dressing, smile of a friend.
Knowing with certainty at the time they’ll be ours to the end,
they return at unexpected moments, their clarity a surprise:
a sunset, muffled cry, a Thanksgiving dressing, smile of a friend
bringing feeling from depths we cannot withhold, disguise.
They return at unexpected moments, their clarity a surprise
an imprinting sudden as first love with no thought of aftermath
bringing feeling from depths we cannot withhold, disguise:
a few—the selections random: a melody, morning fog, a path.

C.M. Carol, from the number of collections you’ve published within the last decade, it’s obvious your work is a rich flow of creativity. Can you tell us a little about your attitude toward work and your writing process? When did you start writing poetry?

Smallwood: Writing never seemed to be work ever since learning to read in school. The whole idea of words—the way they sound, look, evoke, made me feel right away it was a new world I wanted to explore. Of course I had no idea what was involved but knew it was one I wanted to be in. Poetry was a form I didn’t think I’d ever try, as after taking college poetry classes in which one class period was figuring out what a poet meant in one line seemed impossibly hard. But finally I decided to try a few so jumped in and was amazed to get acceptances which encouraged me in 2006 to keep going. Probably dealing with cancer at this time prompted me. Yes, I’m OK now but facing mortality pushes one. By chance I ran across formal poetry and after much struggling came up with a villanelle which gave me so much satisfaction I found out how to do triolets, pantoums, and other forms; the rondeau my latest. I found How to Write Classical Poetry: A Guide to Forms, Techniques, and Meaning (Ragazine) to be of great help. As far as the process of writing, it is illusive, very mysterious. The best comes from our unconscious which we know little. It seems the times I try the hardest are times I do the least and when I am not trying, ideas come. Writers are always writing even if not putting words down as it is a simmering on a back burner we have little to do with. Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea in a very short time as he was ready for it, it was cooked so to speak.

C.M. Do you work mostly at home? If not, how do you establish your routine, for example, if working at a library or another location? In Interweavings, your collection of creative nonfiction, in your essays, and in some of your poems, you refer to visits to the library, and sometimes to the napkins at McDonald’s. I’ve always wondered if you actually took lunches at McDonald’s.

Smallwood: Yes, I work mostly at home now, around 5 hours at the desktop computer. When not at home I often jot down words on paper that is always handy and yes, sometimes when I run out, on napkins or placemats. Lunch out is my carrot to keep me working and I’m a good customer of fast food places—they know me by name and what I order.

C.M. When working at an outside location, what writing tools do you carry in your tote bag?

Smallwood: Just my list of things to shop on back of scrap paper and two pens. Often ideas pop up while I’m driving, so I have a clipboard handy on the passenger seat. It is hard to read on the fly (if you want to read it).

C.M. I’ve admired your essays at Society of Classical Poets on various poetical forms. Does content of your poems dictate the form you choose, or vice versa?

Smallwood: A cinquain sometimes starts as a poem but ends up as a sestina or fiction. My computer screen has a big folder called Unfinished Work that I keep going and often use, that is, finish. My latest notes I took last night long hand watching television.

C.M. Does the material reside in your mind (pre-inscription, as it were) and then you shape the poem? Or do you begin with the formal outline of a villanelle or pantoum, for example, and work the lines into the poem’s formal construct?

Smallwood: Ideas come first and then I write it as a narrative not thinking what form it would fit. The challenge in most formal poetry is not to make it too “sing song” that is, the rhyme must not overwhelm. I often start out with many lines but end up with just a few or toss it.

C.M. In various passages from your writing, you’ve referred to John Galsworthy? How has his writing influenced your own?

Smallwood: I have lunch with John every day even if carrying hard copies in my purse makes it heavy. It was in high school I first read him and greatly admired his style—not knowing about him at all, I just felt it was special and someone I wanted to keep reading. I now have a set (Devon Edition) I treasure that came with uncut pages as well as several autographed books. He has written widely in other forms besides fiction, but it is his novels I keep reading. His The Forsyte Saga has been in at least 2 major television series but I can’t watch it because my image of the characters just doesn’t match those on screen after reading it so often. I often think of his:  “Art was unsatisfactory. When it gave you the spirit, distilled the essence, it didn’t seem real; and when it gave you the gross, cross-currented, contradictory surface, it didn’t seem worth while.”

C.M. Do you have favorite contemporary poets? I feel I’m always trying to catch up on authors I haven’t yet read. Do you feel that kind of pressure?

 Smallwood: Yes, I have that same pressure of keeping up to date. And concluded one just cannot!

C.M. One of my favorite essays from your Interweavings is the one you call “Beginning the Day.” I like it for the “present moment” of the essay and for its reverence of the past, told as much by the scarf the cat played with (made from flour sack material), as by items such as stones saved from the past and reference to an old Department of Agriculture land study. This essay achieved such a balancing of “then and now.” Can you tell us something of how this essay came about?

 Smallwood: Thank you! The things I mention were taken from what I saw. As one that fights to fall asleep, seeing dawn has become very familiar but I can never really capture it—it is an amazing process seeing familiar things take on reassuring form early in the day. The essay was an attempt.

C.M. Your collections are so interesting and so varied, one from the other. In Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences you organize your material according to the earth’s elements, speaking sometimes of the Swan Nebula and sometimes of tea bubbles. The unity of Prisms, Particles, and Refractions, on the other hand, is so different from that of A Matter of Selection where in your preface you address the question of words left in poems and thoughts suggested by what’s left out. When you start assembling your material, do you always recognize immediately the common thread that will make the collection cohere?

Smallwood: Thank you! It isn’t until I’ve written nearly twenty new poems that I can detect a theme to shape a new collection. There is a thread that connects them even if didn’t know it when writing them and it is satisfying to find, pin it down.

C.M. I think readers would be most interested in learning what part of the collection process you find most enjoyable? most laborious? most challenging?

 Smallwood: The most enjoyable is seeing the collection fall into place as a unit out of so many parts. In each collection I use 3-5 Parts in Roman Numerals to place the poems as a further definition. And begin with a Prelude, end with an Epilogue. Give it structure, maybe it is the librarian part of my background. The most laborious is thinking of a new poem: thinking is the wrong word—it just comes when it is ready. Sometimes you are convinced you have written your last one and a new one is a thing of the past; it is all over. The most challenging is to keep yourself open, the waiting.

C.M. If you don’t mind serving further as teacher, could you tell the novice poet how to go about organizing his/her material, or how or when (s)he should approach a publisher?

Smallwood: Once you finish putting the collection together, add requested blurbs, let it sit a month at least, read it with new eyes. Make sure the table of contents matches the order of the poems, spellcheck. If possible, have a friend spellcheck.  This is the way I organized my most recent poetry collection, In the Measuring:

  • Blurbs
  • Half Page (title only)
  • Title/Author Page
  • Epigraph
  • Recent Selected Work
  • Table
  • Foreword
  • Introduction (Preface)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prelude
  • Names of Parts
  • Epilogue
  • About the Writer

Decide if you want to pay a fee for a contest, or a reading fee. Most publishers go this route but some do not. A reliable list of publishers is by Poets & Writers: Small Presses

Expect to wait, make dozens of submissions as the competition is high. I’ve had 8 poetry collections published so far and another hybrid (not all poetry) is coming out in November from Finishing Line Press; a poetry collection in 2019 from WordTech Editions. John Dos Passos expressed it well when he wrote:  “If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works, with all the misconceptions, the omissions, the failures that any finished work of art implies.”

***

Carole Mertz, poet and essayist, is the author of the 2019 poetry chapbook, Toward a Peeping Sunrise (Prolific Press). She writes for various literary journals in U.S. and Canada and resides in Parma, OH. Mertz is the Book Review Editor at Dreamer’s Creative Writing.

Finally Going to Tell You about the Staircase Ghost by Luanne Castle

When my baby said peaches, peaches,
I put the can into the opener.
Its lid rose on the machine’s arm.
The peaches smelled peachy-spice
and curled into little moons.
My son gummed his peaches, sloshing
juice from his mouth’s ends.
I washed out the can and then saw
what I had missed in my loving him
like water into wine. The cool blond
of pear slices on the Del Monte label.
The membrane between here
and there can separate as an unexpected
wind swishes silk draperies apart.

Here’s another one.
You might not have noticed.
You could have been standing
at the base of the stairs,
seen a woman in a long shift hesitate.
What was happening was this.
My foot reached for the next step,
and in that instant a ghost
passed through my chest
on its way downstairs.  It didn’t
move out of the way for me,
didn’t care that I knew it existed.
We both went our separate ways,
my path leading me to this moment
where I tell my tiny limitless tales.

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.

The Lark Ascended by Wayne Lee

–for Mica and Annie

First Mother’s Day without her
and you are pulled in two, toward the open arms
of your thirsty girls and that blue expanse of sky.

Flute song on the radio, evanescent as breath.

Once there was a lark, and speckled eggs,
and fledglings testing their wings. Now they fly
in time to that most ephemeral of melodies.

Wayne Lee (wayneleepoet.com) lives in Santa Fe, NM. Lee’s poems have appeared in Pontoon, Tupelo Press, Slipstream and other journals and anthologies. He was awarded the 2012 Fischer Prize and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and three Best of the Net Awards.

 

2019 Best of the Net Nominations

The annual Best of the Net Anthology from Sundress Publications promotes the diverse and ever-growing collection of voices who are publishing their work online and serves to bring greater respect to an innovative and continually expanding medium.

The judges for poetry this year is  Eloisa Amezcua.

Nominations must have originally appeared online and must have been first published or appeared on the web between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019. Nominations were due on September 30, 2019 and must have come from the editor of the publication.

Congratulations to this year’s nominations from Zingara Poetry Review. I hope every poem is included in this year’s anthology!!

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.