Category Archives: Zingara Poetry Picks

“Legacy” by Terry Severhill

We accumulate our past as though it were a treasure horde and we forget in the moments of passing down the family history to dust off the layers and the contributions of generations of liars and lawyers. We can’t seem to shake loose that thought that everything is important . . . to someone, so great-great Aunt Maggie’s recipes for stewed Uncle Franks hangover remedy is still passed around at Christmas gatherings . . . 1] Yell shrilly into either ear. . .  2] Bang pots and pans with a Metal spoon. . .  3] Serve two day old, ice cold bitter coffee . . .  4] Repeat until he gets his lazy ass up and working or until the sheriff stops by. The remnants of wedding dresses and military medals are enshrined in the collective attic of our family tree which no longer has leaves, although some think that the bats in the belfry are there to remind us to eat lots of garlic, some of us have a rational fear of vampires. We don’t have any generals in our family line. . . . none that we are allowed to speak of. . . . something about being on the wrong side of history. . . which may be akin to being on the wrong side of gravity. The best thing about having a family history is family . . . . if only we didn’t have to try and explain.

Terry’s work have been published in a variety of venues, awarded “Art Young’s Poetry Prize 2016.” He is pending publication in several journals and anthologies. His first collection, from West Vine Press, Beneath the Shadow of the Sun is due out late 2017. Terry is a member of the Veterans Writing Group of San Diego. He lives and writes in Vista, California, reads at several open mic events in San Diego County monthly.

 

“Of Things Past” by Lenny Lianne

A long time, too long, since we have done — this,
he said and plopped a fat bottle of Mateus
and two small paper cups from the bathroom
onto the table. He took out a maimed box
of Jolly Time Blast O Butter popcorn
from a grocery bag, and grinned at her.

She could tell that this was a campaign
to coax her to laugh, to forget
about the future. The distant past
would be the tactic tonight, the way
they used to take turns telling
each other about what had come before

— about those freakish Christmas gifts
from screwball aunts, sibling pranks,
his teen summer by a cirque-cupped pond.
And after a third refill of new wine,
they spilled out stories of lapsed romances
as though, by sharing their own secrets,

they’d earned whatever alighted afterwards.
Shag carpets, concrete block with wood
plank bookcases and black beanbag
chairs, each had departed by now,
passing away for better or worse,
like something familiar that’s lost its way.

     after a line by Lucia Perillo

Lenny Lianne is the author of four full-length books of poetry. She holds a MFA from George Mason University. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, California Quarterly, Third Wednesday, The Dead Mule of Southern Literature, and others.

“If You See Me Dancing” by Jan Day

If you see me dancing don’t let me drive
he said back when he drank
till he could do the two-step with his eyes shut.
I followed like a blind woman
who lived by touch.

Last call we’d spin out the door
so dizzy we saw stars on saguaros
and coyotes in trucks. He sang their lament.
He knew it by heart.
I found the keys.

We drove without headlights until there was no road left.
It seemed like a lifetime dancing in the dark
from coast to coast and back again. Then we stayed home
till he dared to climb
the deep part of night alone.

It was like a cave with airless walls
where I searched for him. Only once did I hear
his shuffle on stone,
the scuff of a boot to a western song.
I can’t forgive him. Not now.
He knew I’d never learn to dance on my own.

Jan Day says she is fortunate to live in interior Florida where water and light come together to create a lushness, not only of the earth but also of the imagination. She writes in several genres including fiction and plays and has written five children’s picture books published by Pelican Publishing.  Her poetry was most recently published in Peacock Journal. She resides in Okeechobee, Florida.

 

“Eight of Cups” by Toti O’Brien

now the measure is full
all drunk
all sunk in

(countless horses
raced
over my chest

fine dust
lifted
from crumbled ribcage)

the sun
bled itself lavishly
to the final drop

hot wind
licks
my parched skin

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. She was born in Rome then moved to Los Angeles, where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. Her work has most recently appeared in Circleshow, Fire Poetry, Paper Earth, and Fishfood.

“Careless” by Andrew Clark

It’s careless:
your back arching across time
the way you drift across miles
to stand in front of me.
        We circle
        in the snow
        humming hymns, cheeks close.

It’s careless:
the way we smolder in the frost
a quiver between the trees
ice splintering around us.
       We are stars
        fallen from a fire
       once bright.
 
It’s a walk to the barn
in the biting cold
it’s a place to hide
from wind and world.
       It’s the two of us:
       a warm secret
       on the hay.

Andrew Clark is a poet whose work has appeared in The Ogeechee, The Miscellany, and The Pregnant Moon Review. He is the recipient of the Roy F. Powell Creative Writing Award from Georgia Southern University. He is a native of Asheville, NC, and is querying his Southern gothic magical realism novel. He is active on Twitter at @theandrewkclark. He is a contributor to Hilton Head Monthly magazine.

“Barnwork We Didn’t Talk Much About” by Charles A. Swanson

Manure was the word we used, or barnyard
muck. Not that manure was elegant,
but more so in the cattle stalls.

I still remember Christmas holidays,
the manure spreader parked,
ready, between two open doors,

and long-shafted pitch forks,
one with four tines, one with five,
the wood worn smooth in the handles,

the metal burnished and gleaming,
and the litter (isn’t that a nice word)
mixed with hay coming up in layers,

almost like thin-rolled well-baked pastry.
Cow manure smells sunny
compared to pig. Cows eat grass,

breathe grass, pass grass,
and something, though faint, lingers
of clover and sun and vegetable life.

Outside, around the doors, where sweet rain
fouled manure—imagine such a thing!—
the cows’ stomping and milling

made a black mess, a true muck—
this is what shit looks like, I always
think, even now, something fetid,

fecal, foul, black as tar, suck-
deep and miry. I walked through that,
too, as barefoot country boys do,

in summertime. But in winter,
straining to pry and peel up
a thin layer, a towel-length sheet

of cow manure, I sang (whenever,
I could find, a breath, between forking,
and tossing) every Christmas carol I knew.

Charles A. Swanson teaches English in an Academy for Engineering and Technology.  Frequently published in Appalachian magazines, he also pastors a small church, Melville Avenue Baptist in Danville.  He has two books of poems:  After the Garden, published by MotesBooks, and Farm Life and Legend, from Finishing Line Press. 

 

 

“Wild Onions” by Susan Carman

I brought home onion plants years ago
after admiring them in a friend’s garden, unaware

how like dandelions are these airy blooms, whispers
of white lifted on the breeze to land

far from where they began.
My friend died a decade ago, but I continue

to find still-green spikes poking up
among fall’s spent flowers and gently curse

her generosity. I pull them out
each year – they hold fast to the soil,

break off, roots stubborn as she was.
The pungent scent of onion lingers on my hands,

an homage to the bonds
of friendship that transcend this life.

Susan Carman is a former poetry co-editor for Kansas City VoicesA Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems and essays have appeared in publications including Coal City Review, Catholic Digest, I-70 Review, Kalliope, and Imagination and Place. Her essay, “An Extra Helping of Grace,” received a national award from Penguin Press.