Category Archives: Zingara Poetry Picks

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

 

 

 

Stay-At-Home Mom by Sabina M. Säfsten

I did not go to work today. But, today was full of work.
Today I have made a pizza, some muffins, and a hat.
Also I made changes, friendships, rest, and thoughts, and also
I ran errands. So many
errands.

I also worried about money, and time, and health, and family, and boys.
Well, boy
or rather
the thought that I am loved by someone, and how foreign
that idea still seems to me.
But He says it is so. So it must be.

I ponder such a curious idea, as I change her clothes, and help her with
the most basic of needs
and cheer her on when she takes a few steps in a row–
and then I adjust her oxygen tank so she can
breathe

I sleep early, and wake up when I hear her
crying. I wake her up completely; she can sleep again
but only after
pills water blanket nightlight
oxygen tank
and a video clip of her grandchildren
sending their love.

I tuck her in, return to my chair. I lean back,
blanket around my shoulders. I start to dream of
tasks, and chores, and errands and work and         school
as the whirring of the compressor
lulls me back to sleep.

Sabina M. Säfsten is a life-long poet who recently decided to make attempts to be published as an adult. Published as a child writer in multiple poetry anthologies, she took a brief 15-year haitus and earned an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Family Science. She has since come to her senses and has worked as a professional copywriter for the past 3 years for various clients. She currently works as a writer for a financial education company in Provo, UT, where she lives with her 2 djembes, Daniel and Ebony.

Mad Love by Chuck Taylor

to say a word for our common tabby cat,
to say a word for Oliver, senile now,
my friends say, inside always now too,
after the latest flap with a pack of dogs
chasing him to a hiding place it took
three days for him to come out of,
old gimpy arthritic cat who we found
in the garage after we bought the house,
cat who we named Spook at first because
you rarely saw the ninja warrior streaking
from the food dish we set under the
ping-pong table, but now an old purrer
of laps and sleeping on your head in bed,
Oliver, who has chosen me, out of some
cat irrational need, to love best,
though I never feed, though I have a
backyard dog I take for country walks
and have never liked cats, Oliver, lumbering
across the floor, those large doe eyes
looking up in mad love, begging an ear rub,
a neck scratch, Oliver, Oliver, you could love
my good mate, the one who bathes you
the one who pulls off your fleas
and trims your nails–but no, it’s me
and only me, could it be my fabulous
finger technique?–come on, give in,
the mute glowing cat orbs say,
let me on your lap, take this broken
love and learn to tolerate
so you learn to love–
for you are broken too, eh?
and mad like me for love

Chuck Taylor’s first book of poems was published by Daisy Aldan’s Folder Press in 1975. He worked as a poet-in-the-schools and as Ceta Poet in Residence for Salt Lake City.

The Year We Learned about Tet by Gary Finke

This morning, as if the past had unwrapped
Its greasy sack of regret, I am describing
How Cecil and I worked as punishment, how,
After we swept floors and hauled trash to give us
Humility we both needed, we were noisy with relief,
And yes, pride that we’d finished ten hours
For our case of petty, bad college behavior.
Because it was February, we’d worked
Something we called the “light shift,” returning
Our tools in near-dark and standing, for once,
Among men who worked each weekend at jobs
They’d never foreseen as boys, laborers
Who did what was necessary, the work
We wouldn’t be repeating, not if we
Used our brains to earn the future’s comfort.

Those men huddled inside cars they idled
Toward warmth, windshields clearing from the bottom
In rising moons.  From the back of campus,
It was sixteen blocks to where our friends were
Already lively with beer and music,
And whether it was the twilight cold or
The simple solidarity of work,
One car door opened as “Where to?” offer.
The two of us crowded beside that man
On a stiff bench seat, the heater full-blast
On our feet while Cecil gave directions
That stopped that driver early, spilling us
Into the just-beginning snow two blocks
From our Greek-lettered house, standing in front
Of the cheap apartments where locals lived
As if he wanted that maintenance man
To believe we were not the spoiled sons
Of distant fathers, able to manage discipline,
Gesturing in the flurries as if he was already
Enlisting, his war victim future so close he needed
To celebrate our small, unimportant work.

Gary Fincke’s latest collection, The Infinity Room, won the Wheelbarrow Books Prize for Established Poets (Michigan State, 2019). A collection of essays, The Darkness Call, won the Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose and was published by Pleiades Press in 2018.

 

Two Girls Sit on a Patchwork Couch by Chloe Kerr-Stein

Afternoons I visited her, and
beneath the rainfall on her roof
cotton blankets wrapped around us I
drank in each of her syllables. She helped me
find the right shape with my own tongue,
giving my hand a squeeze when I got one right.
Half my words were nonsense. She pretended not to notice.
I envied her vocabulary, and hoped one day I would be able to
jinx her with a word like inconsequential or trivial or barbaric and
know what it meant. You’ve probably guessed I
loved her. So I stuck around like the smell of
mulch in her backyard. I remember she took
me there once to smell the jasmine. She
never minded when I pronounced the word wrong
or forgot which flowers are feminine, so I thought she loved me back.
Pity me. Imagine the
quiet tears I shed when I finally
remembered the shape of those words.
She had helped me sound them out
thinking they were for someone else.
Time after time I practiced until the
vortex of sound opened up to me and on
Wednesday I told her I loved her and the
xenial melody of her voice responded
yes. That’s how you pronounce it.

Chloe Kerr-Stein will be studying Writing and Literature at UCSB in the fall. She has studied at the California State Summer School for the Arts and the Kenyon Young Writer’s Studio. She has been published in the 826 Quarterly, The Junkyard, and the Bay Area Book Festival’s Youth Poetry Anthology. 

A letter to M. F. K. Fisher about Thai leftovers in the morning by Ralph J. Long Jr.

Mary Frances

Six empty bottles stand witness to last night’s folly.
I should be past mornings where alcohol fueled
camaraderie brings pain and remorse. Cider, wine,
brandy have left only the soles of my feet without
complaint. The muted refrigerator light behind curry
stained boxes pierces, even my eyes are part of the
litany of distress. To soothe the morning, my friends
want the full American: Bloody Marys, coffee, eggs,
toast and bacon. I crave water, not the false reset of
vodka. The sounds of percolation and frying turn my
headache into a storm. I bless the soft rain that mutes
the high-pitched calls of songbirds. I fight the warm
allure of bed. Sleep must wait until suffering recedes.
Hope lies in the leftover containers of larb with fish
sauce and puckering lime; in tiny eggplants napped
with Thai basil, and chilies and lemongrass nestled in
noodles ready for a minute of microwave rejuvenation.
If only recovery was as easy as pressing start.

I’ll write about the Gravenstein blossoms soon,

Ralph J. Long Jr. is the author of the chapbook, A Democracy Divided (The Poetry Box, 2018). His work has appeared in Stoneboat Literary Journal, The Poeming Pigeon, The Avocet and the anthology Ambrosia: A Conversation About Food. He graduated from Haverford College and lives in Oakland California.

 

A Body in the Body of the Universe by Micki Blenkush

When I went hungry, I slept less.
Roused by hummingbirds at 4:00 a.m.
to add sugar to my blood.

Today, I rest to the luxury of dozing,
wait for news of our survival.  Slow bleed
of light around the shades,

my mind’s graffitied chug
like box cars on a train.
That my skin cracks open feels significant.

Forced air heat blasting through the vents.
I buy jugs of distilled water
to feed my humidifier, take too-long showers

mouth agape, inhaling the steam.
Persistent itch, abrasion with bullhorn,
subcutaneous alarm.

Micki Blenkush lives in St. Cloud, MN.  She was selected as a 2017-2018 Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series fellow in poetry and was a 2015 recipient of a Central MN Arts Board Emerging Artist Grant.  Her writing has recently appeared in: Cagibi, Typishly, and Crab Creek Review.

Then…as Now by KL Frank

Thought hands a world to you
separate as a head on a platter.
But shuffle awhile
through damp new grass
and warm wood chips,
stumble over errant rocks,
pocket a few illicit pine cones,
recreate scenes of
soaked papier-mâché drying,
skewer miniscule starchy
sugar lumps on sticks and sear
over charcoal fires, or
cook a few squashed
indecipherable meat patties
over propane until
severed images recede.
Now will become as then
when right hand and left hand
were joined at the spine.

Karin L. Frank’s poems have been published in various literary journals, such as the Rockhurst Review, the Mid-America Poetry Review, the North Dakota Quarterly and New Letters and in various science fiction venues, such as Asimov’s and Tales of the Talisman. No matter the genre, her poems speak women’s voices.

 

 

Loss by Sandy Feinstein

I keep thinking I’ll be able to see in the dark,
that moonrise or bright Venus will penetrate.
Maybe if I wash the grit from the windows
or open them in defiance of winter
stars could burst through,
shed light as they fall
through earth’s indifferent atmosphere
down, down down.

Not so much as a flicker’s left for me
from the arc of unplanned flights.
Stars die out of the sun’s spotlight
unremarked.
Perhaps Palomar finds a skyful
to name and number,
mathematically account for each.

Loss of a single light remains
forever
unmeasured,
immeasurable.
It’s not enough to know what stars do.

Sandy Feinstein’s poetry has appeared most recently in Maximum Tilt (2019); in the last three years, her work has appeared in Viator Project, Connecticut River Journal, Gyroscope, Colere, and Blueline, among others.