Category Archives: Zingara Poetry Picks

Squat by Gale Acuff no

I don’t want to die but I’m not crazy
about living, neither, I’m ten years old
and could live a lot longer, multiply
a decade’s worth of sin and sorrow by
ten and that’s a century of shit, not
that good things won’t happen among the bad
but I’m not so sure of that now, I got
kicked out of Sunday School today because
I asked if Adam had a navel, Eve
as well, and that’s all she wrote – my teacher
gave me the heave-ho so now I’m squatting
on somebody’s headstone in the back of
our church, it’s as quiet as death, ha ha,
except for some mockingbirds and robins
so fat they can hardly chirp and when
class is over I guess I’ll go to her
and apologize, my teacher that is,
I guess there are some questions you don’t ask,
I don’t mean that they’re bad – they’re just too good.

Gal Acuff’s poems can be found in such literary journals as AscentReed, Poet Lore, Chiron ReviewCardiff ReviewPoemAdirondack Review, Florida ReviewSlantNeboArkansas Review, South Dakota ReviewRoanoke Review, and many other journals in eleven countries. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. Gale has also taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

 

 

 

 

How Do We Determine What Mars Is Made Of by Christina M. Rau

Sampling and photographs
over years until drying out.
A flight of ages. When they go
they go for good.
They say goodbye
and know the silting red
will be dug up for graves.
They know the shallow dips
and angled hills will be
playgrounds, outbacks, landscape
views for all. They know money
doesn’t matter. After setting down.
The rovers didn’t need to
disconnect in this
way. They did and then they
did not.
In millennia
it will be human bone in the loam.

Christina M. Rau is the author of the Elgin Award-winning poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press) and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove and For The Girls, I. She is Editor-in-chief for The Nassau Review at Nassau Community College and founder of the Long Island poetry circuit Poets In Nassau. http://www.christinamrau.com

Hollow by Robert Beveridge

Sap drips
from the blades
of pine needles
that surround us
as we lie
on the Navajo blanket
grandmother brought
back from New Mexico

the pine
has been eaten by something
leaves a crevice
where we rest our heads

a dry sanctuary
from expected rain

I carve our initials
inside the shell
before we leave
surround them
with traditional heart
and arrow

a first moment
of love
solid as pine.

Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Blood and Thunder, Feral, and Grand Little Things, among others.

First Day at Sts. Philip and James by John C. Mannone

Diesel exhaust seeped through the open window.
Almost made me sick, but my stomach churned
already from nervousness. My first day in school.

My blue blazer, brushed free from lint, felt tight
when I sat on the bus’ green leather seat.
I didn’t think to unbutton it. But the ride was short.

The First Grade classroom seemed littered
with many papers pinned to the walls; an alphabet
was strung around the room like a party decoration.

It was scary because I didn’t know what the letters
meant. I didn’t even know what a letter was,
but I remember my momma trying to teach me.

The Sisters of St. Francis wore a thick chord
fashioned around their waist that dangled down.
It looked like a whip. I was scared about that, too.

When I went to the bathroom, I didn’t know
what to do—I never saw a vertical urinal before,
only sit-down toilets. When I let my pants fall

to the floor, the other boys laughed; they laughed
harder when they saw me pee. I thought
I did something wrong. I thought the nuns

were going to spank me with that chord.

John C. Mannone has work in North Dakota Quarterly, Le Menteur, 2020 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and others. He won the Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and others.

split pea soup by Jan Ball

Just after we were married, you tried to make
split pea soup at my parents trailer in Wisconsin
but the split peas wouldn’t soften; still, musty
smells mixed with the piney fragrance from outdoors
stimulated our appetites–probably the split peas
were on the pine wood shelf in the little country store
with the squeaky screen door for years, but you wanted
to make split pea soup on vacation in the Dells.

Tonight, the green peas I substitute for yellow ones
aren’t soft yet but I can smell the flavors blending:
like so many years ago, onions, ginger, apple and
sweet potato left over from Thanksgiving, with
coriander, cumin and turmeric. But there is no hurry.
You aren’t home yet and Lake Michigan outside
the window is conducive to navy blue reflection.
When you do return, finally, I’ll add the tart lime juice
and acidic tomatoes before serving to the simmering soup
for a contrast of flavors.

Jan Ball has had 325 poems published in various journals including: Atlanta Review,
Calyx, Chiron, Mid-America Review, Nimrod and Parnassus, in Australia, Canada,
Czech Republic, England, India and The U.S.. Jan’s three chapbooks and full
length poetry collection, I Wanted To Dance With My Father, are available from
Finishing Line Press and Amazon.

Nisi Warrior by MSG (Ret) Hubert C. Jackson

Dedicated to the second born generation of Japanese-Americans who, in spite of the treatment of incarceration dealt to, in many cases, themselves, their friends and families, still chose to support the war effort of a nation who had turned a deaf ear to the cries of its citizens.

Ancestral essence from the “Land of the Rising Sun,” and societal influences from the “Home of the Brave – Land of the Free” have combined to make me.  Driven by the soul of the Sumari, and a desire to be a contributing factor in the day-to-day functioning of this land, I ask nothing more than to be recognized as a citizen of this nation from sea to sea.

We are the Nisei, sons of the Issei, and fathers of the Sensei, and America is our homeland too, and during one of the most challenging times in our history, we stepped forward to defend our country in the European theater in some of the most vicious fighting during World War II.  We stood proudly, fought bravely, sacrificed, and many died for the cause of the “Red, White, and Blue.”  All of this in spite of Executive Order 9066, which incarcerated my family, friends, and relatives in substandard barbed-wire enclosures, signed into effect in February 1942.

We comprised the 100th Infantry Battalion )Separate), better known as the “Purple Heart Battalion,” and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and in fighting for our country, we also fought for the realization of our dream, that of regaining, for ourselves, and our families, the rights of free American citizens, and to reconstruct our shattered self-esteem.

Hubert C. Jackson is a graduate student at the Union Institute and University enrolled in their Interdisciplinary Studies Program with an emphasis on African American Military History. He spent twenty-four years of active military service in the United States Army, twenty of those twenty-four years were spent in the Army’s Special Forces (Green Berets) serving with some of the finest soldiers that one could wish to serve with.

Years Go By by Haley Sui

 

19. 6 years, and sometimes I can’t see anything except the radiation machines that clank against each other, metal shrieks ringing in my ear. 6 years, and I still cry myself to sleep at night. 6 years, and there’s always someone, somewhere, saying PTSD isn’t real. Just get over it.

18. It’s been 5 years. They say I’m safe now. They say it’s over.

18. Legal age. I can vote now. Does the world want me to change it? Do I, even have that right?

17. Oh my god! They took me! Ivy-bound.

17. Applying for college. Will Harvard take me? But they’re so good. Should I even mention the cancer?

16. My friend Vanessa said the scar on my chest looked like I got heart surgery. I was so scared. What if she found out?

16. I can’t tell anybody, right? What if they treat me differently? I don’t want all my friends to be friends with me out of pity.

15. My hair’s so short; I wear a cap everyday to school. Mom talked to the teachers, so they let me wear it in class too. I’m so embarrassed.

15. New school. New faces. Will I be okay? Why did I leave Hunter?

14. Chemo ends in March. They make me ring a nice bell to show I finished treatment. It’s shiny. Does that mean it’s over? Can I go back to my life?

14. I can’t walk in a straight line. My flute lies on the ground, abandoned. My paintings drape over the basement table. Mom and Dad shove my baking tools in an empty drawer.

13. Everyone wants me to say something. But I don’t want to say anything. My throat hurts. Do I have a voice? I think Grandma is asking me something, but I can’t hear her.

13. The surgery is tomorrow. I’m scared of this hospital. This place is weird and looks too bright. My eyes are angry. There are purple butterflies on the walls.

13. I ask Mom why my head hurts so much. Because she’s my Mom. She has all the answers. She looks at me, sad. She doesn’t have an answer.

13. My head hurts. Ow. This really hurts.

13. Jack of all trades. That’s what Grandma calls me. She says she’s proud of me because I can play piano and flute and I can bake yummy stuff and my art is really pretty and I do really good in school.

12. It takes 3 hours to travel to school every day. There’s so much work. It’s ok, though. Mom says it’s the best middle school. Mom knows everything.

11. I got into Hunter! Finally, wow, this took so long.

10.

9.

8. Little brother doesn’t want to go to kindergarten. He’s crying by the window. I go and calm him down.

7. Grandma says I’m her favorite because I can do so many things.

6.

5.

4.

3. I can’t sleep without Mommy. I piddle paddle to her room. Mommy and Daddy are talking, loud but whispering, quiet but angry. I fall asleep outside with my blankie.

2.

1.

0.
 
---
Haley Sui is a sophomore at Harvard University, studying Creative Writing and Neuroscience. She is an active member in her college’s acapella group and dance club, as well as a fervent writer for the university’s science newsletter. When she’s not studying or working on club projects, Haley enjoys listening to lofi music and writing personal memoirs. 

 

Roots by Cole Westervelt

My roots have always seemed unclear.
I have always made myself out to be someone hard to love
and rocked it with style and a grin.

What kind of woman perceives herself as difficult
and hones it, makes it her own?

The same kind of girl who has been put down
one too many times in her fragile youth.
The girl who has been left fighting for her identity,
the option, the choice to be unlovable.

If all I have is a man who decides on my joy,
who would I be,
if not someone who was uprooted?

Dear Relationship Expert by Victoria Cybulski

We had a fight yesterday. It started with the normal flurry,
which snowballed into a blizzard; it’s January.

The cold began to set in.  A few valentines went out and the arrow pierced.
Red hearts danced around the bruises with the unbridled innocence of Cupid. It must be February.

I longed for spring with the usual “I’m sorry.” He countered with a bitter March.
It was in like a lion and out like a lamb, and that lasted for a little while.

April showers left us soppy, wet, gasping. Almost drowning.
Can I save it with another I’m sorry?

The sun came out and he brought flowers. It must be
May, June, or July.

August left us to swelter, grumpy and ravenous. Hatred sprung from the lack of central air and communication. I’ll turn a fan on and blow out the boiling rebuttal.

The leaves started to change and the breeze blew a little colder.
The sweater weather of September left me lingering for a warm embrace.

October, November, and December leave me not wanting to remember. No warm embrace ever came and the cold shoulder grew to be a cold body, just a vessel. How I long for the sunshine.


Victoria Cybulski and is currently an undergraduate student at Rocky Mountain College majoring in Communications Studies and minoring in Creative Writing. She is from the small town of Custer, Montana where she found her passion for poetry while in high school.

Michaelangelo by Austin Smith

I never thought it would be the last
time I saw him.

I never thought to pet his head.

     I never thought to set him on our bridge and set a cherry tomato in his line
of view, in case he needed a bite or two before his journey.

By the way, he’s named after the ninja.

The only thing I’ve learned about turtles is
they hold no loyalty.

*

Whenever at my grandfather’s cabin,
I take a wander on my own.

The small, light, walking type
down to our little pond to sit on the bridge.

The patch of sunlight over it is a dream.
     A dream of the years’ old, bright red paint glittering.

One day I saw a deep,
deep green, softball sized circle gliding
toward my dangling boy feet.

I bolted up cement stairs
to tell Grandpa of the circle.

He nabbed Mikey just for me.

*

We fell in love over a pile of aspen leaves
but I told him I wasn’t hungry.

He met aspen the same day he met me.

I didn’t realize he was planning an escape with each little
bite from the elevated bridge.

He’ll be a ninja when he grows up, I’d say,
after I teach him how to hyahh!

I trotted back down from snack time
to check on him with goldfish in hand

and found an empty bridge frowning.

 

Austin Smith is a freshman at Rocky Mountain College in his hometown, Billings, Montana.

Tug by Stephen Mead

back to back, it’s
a sort of duel, this,
only at High Noon,
refusing to pull apart.
The arms are laced.

The shoulders are red sands
of matador energy
against an equally bloody heat.

Here, striations
of the bull-ring scene are ivy
and upon that wrestling flesh,
Christmas lights dangle from the leaves.

Over rippling torsos
they gentle like lightning bugs
any straining muscle.

What lock keeps
this enjoined heart captive
by the pumping, bumping chambers
of hips, legs, buttocks?

It is all the hypersensitive
self-consciousness & suicide callings
of youth vs. the scrapbooks of the spirit
age makes albums of:
time capsules of photos
in the mind’s flickering eye.

Listen, if there is a war
to that passion then let it turn
sky blue as letter paper,
turquoise clear
as the gaze of a Siamese.


Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall, https://thestephenmeadchromamuseum.weebly.com/

Signs by Anne Whitehouse

A brief April snow disrupted our spring.
Amid clumps of snow, daffodils
nodded in the icy breeze. A glaze 
of snowflakes sugared the hyacinths.

I worried for them and the tender lettuces,
red and green, I’d only just planted.
But the sun came out; by mid-morning,
the snow was gone as if it hadn’t come.

You’d have to be able to read the signs—
the water drops glistening gaily
on the new leaves, the green moss
wet and velvety, the bushes slick.

Perhaps patience is the key, I thought.
How hard it is to wait out a siege.
The enemy is the invisible virus,
and there is no way out but through.

Once it has passed, we will have to know 
where to look to spot the absences 
only glaring for those who miss 
what has ceased to exist.


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. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City. www.annewhitehouse.com

 

How to Baptize a Child in Philadelphia, PA by Mike Zimmerman

First, clasp the crown of his head
like a football, a hot pretzel,
like the accidental bird flown
in you forgot to let go.

Say “you can be anything.”
Let him drink soda at breakfast;
read him a story at night.
Let this story be about

A car or a dog or a fish.
Say, “I wish you didn’t
ask questions at bed.”
Turn out the light.

If you’re going to the dollar store, bring him with you.
Let him buy Mountain Dew and sour lemons.

Help him with his homework.
When he asks, “we’re mostly water? how
can that be true?” Tell him, “because it’s
in the book.” You don’t know the particulars
Except that Jesus walked on water,
The Delaware must be a sacred thing
despite the bodies in cold clothes
on the news. Baptism happens in water.

If he finds a blue jay with a broken wing, tell him
it serves those Jays right for beating the Phillies.

When hell comes up in church, he’ll ask
“What’s revelation? What’s sin?” Show him
The steel mill again. Tell him, “Son,That time of reckoning is not for us.”


Mike Zimmerman is a writer of short stories and poetry, as well as a middle school Writing teacher in East Brooklyn. His previous work has been published in Cutbank, A & U Magazine, and The Painted Bride. He is the 2015 recipient of the Oscar Wilde Award from Gival Press and a finalist for the Hewitt Award in 2016. He finds inspiration and ideas from the people and places he loves. Mike lives in New York City with his husband and their cat.

Gentle Stratigraphy by Kim Malinowski

Leaves crowd blossoms into wispy

decent—

is that how it always is?

Meandering fall into glade—

your hand reaches out—
moss between toes
pebble jutting into hip
coyote jawbone at brow.

 Banks cut by patient water.

Soft decent—

Sandstone and lime carved into stratigraphy.

I map it like I do your irises, your dimples—gentle craft. 
Do you carve me with your caresses?
Shape me as the stream does the bank?
Fingers tap at my stomach.
Moss and mud—water—do you map me?  

The sun sets. First stars appear.
Do you know the constellations of my freckles?

 You may bend and ford me.

Let my stratigraphy show layers.
Love and loss—unbearable and bearable pain—
show life lived to the brim.

 Reveal me.

 Revel in godhood—shape my soul.


Kim Malinowski earned her B.A. from West Virginia University and her M.F.A. from American University. She studies with The Writers Studio. Her chapbook Death: A Love Story was published by Flutter Press. Her work was featured in Faerie Magazine and has appeared in War, Literature, and the Arts, Mookychick, and others.

grounded by Heather Laszlo Rosser

today, I watched
the red tailed hawk
swoop through the bare
trees, and wanted to fly.

I don’t know why now
or why not before
but suddenly, it’s
imperative that I know
something about flight.

do I ask someone?
boys dream of flying.
the fellow in the deli
probably knows. excuse me,
sir, what is it like to fly?

last night I walked down a narrow
passage in a charcoal sketch,
but like my young daughters,
I wanted up.

can we be too rooted to the Earth?

tonight I will ask the boy next to me
the one hiding out in a lean, sure man,
I will ask him, beloved, can I hold on
behind you on your way through?

Heather Laszlo Rosser is a New Jersey native and has been writing all her life. She holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Vermont College. This is her first published poem.