Tag Archives: Finishing Line Press

Elegy with Ice Cream by Kathy Nelson

            ―Travis Leon Hawk

A man fits a contraption
onto a wooden pail, fills it with ice.
The child turns the handle as easily

as her Jack-in-the-box but soon
grows bored and runs to play
in the dappled shade of July.

This the man who, as a boy, teased
white fluff from the knife-edges
of cotton bolls under summer sun

till his fingers bled. Once, he spied
a rattler coiled between his feet.
He wants her to understand how

hardship built this good life, how
readily dust could blow again, how
quickly flak jackets could come back.

He calls her to him, teaches―add salt
to the ice, keep the drain clear, turn
the crank without haste, without desire.

Her small shoulder stiffens. He grips,
labors with his own broad forearm,
churns the peach-strewn cream.

Kathy Nelson (Fairview, North Carolina) is the author of two chapbooks―Cattails (Main Street Rag, 2013) and Whose Names Have Slipped Away (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Asheville Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, Broad River Review, and Southern Poetry Review.

Gleeful by Christina M. Rau

The joy of cows
roadside sitting
standing together—
as if I’d never seen cows.
As if they are exotic.
I suppose to some, they are.
To others, sacred.
Once at the Atlanta Zoo
a keeper told me to think
of giraffes as giant cows,
head’s the same just a different height.

Giraffes are roadside somewhere
but not here. Down here there
are the cows, the green green grasses,
the flowers in blankets of maroon
white purple yellow
billowing blossoming blooming
for miles stretched ahead.

Christina M. Rau is the author of the sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press, 2017), which won the SFPA 2018 Elgin Award, and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). She also writes for Book Riot about all things book-related. In her non-writing life, when she’s not teaching yoga, she’s watching the Game Show Network.  http://www.christinamrau.com

Portrait of My Mother by Kathy Nelson

My mother sits in profile on the photographer’s stool,
one arm draped over crossed knees, the other behind her.
White crinoline and ruffles. Classic pose. Scuffed shoes.

She is taking that single breath between girl and woman.
The ripening plum of her mouth. The start of softness
above the narrow velvet ribbon of her empire waist.

Nights, she listens from her bed to slamming doors,
the late thunder of tires on oyster shells in the drive.
Or her mother rouses her from sleep, commands her

to yell her father’s name from the car, embarrass him―
he and his tart carousing at the open-air bar. She’s
a conscript in her mother’s war. What she longs for―

her father’s love. He’s bound to his pocket flask.
Mornings, she sits at the piano, as her mother requires,
plays scales and études. Duty over desire. I want to break

the glass over the portrait, let her out. I want to tell her:
set the house on fire, let them wonder if you drowned
in the canal, run away to Kathmandu in your scuffed shoes,

Kathy Nelson (Fairview, North Carolina) is the author of two chapbooks―Cattails (Main Street Rag, 2013) and Whose Names Have Slipped Away (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Asheville Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, Broad River Review, and Southern Poetry Review.

Annual Self-Preservation Scrutinization by M. Kaat Toy

Checking our revered account balances, we see if last year’s resolutions have been cost effective or has their security been breached by the contorted cycles of our junkie brains that love to rob while renouncing free offerings as too repressive? Though it’s hard to climb the ladder of satisfaction with the tractor treads of military tanks, our logic brains persistently denounce actions unacceptable to their wills such as polishing the auras of all the mystical animals, raising their knavish energy and opening doorways to the higher realms. Because the practical alone is dangerous and the spiritual alone is ineffective, the twin clowns of war and thunder mock our arrogance and our wrath, tossing watermelons down on us from their rainy mountain where the fastidious knights we dispatch to guard the holy grail of the rigid little goals we set for ourselves corrode in the clouds.

M. Kaat Toy (Katherine Toy Miller) of Taos, New Mexico, has published a prose poem chapbook, In a Cosmic Egg (2012), at Finishing Line Press, a flash fiction book, Disturbed Sleep (2013), at FutureCycle Press, novel selections, short stories, flash fiction, prose poetry, creative nonfiction, journalism, and scholarly work.

“December” by Sharon Scholl

i

The cottonwoods come down
last among the shedders,
come in piles like leather napkins
folded brown and gold.
Wind swirls them into speckled hills,
mattresses for leaping children.
I’ve watched the cutting loose
as each twig cast its fate on air,
the whole like silent snow,
space a-flutter with gentle death.

ii

There are things we can’t hold onto,
joys that slip from our bodies
at the stroke of time.
They float quietly away
beyond the comfort of grief. We pull
them from our minds, bend over them
like firelight, warming old bones
in the radiance of what used to be.

Sharon Scholl is a retired college professor of humanities and international studies. Her recently published chapbooks include Summer’s Child (Finishing Line Press) and EAT SPACE (Poet Press). She convenes A Gathering of Poets, critique group of a dozen local poets celebrating our twelfth anniversary.

“Advent” by Lynda Fleet Perry

~ for Mark

From the farm’s back field the wind is rising
as we walk, holding hands, to cut our tree
in the crisp night air. The moon is rising

over the skeletal tips of branches, forking
into the gathering dark. We can see,
from the farm’s back field, the wind rising

by the way the old cedar moans, tossing
its now-black foliage, as if to shake free.
On this solstice night, the moon’s rising

arc holds Venus—glimmering and winking—
at celestial arms’ length. They’re married
above the farm’s back field—wind rising

as if to rush the inevitable coupling
of sickle and orb, a brilliant zenith
of this longest night. The moon is rising

higher. Now we can see the tree, leaning
crookedly, our Yule pine, its shadow spindly
in the moon’s silver light.  Night has risen
over the farm’s back field. The wind still rises.

Lynda Fleet Perry is the author of a chapbook of poems, At Winter Light Farm, published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Her work has been published in Blackbird, Defunct, qarrtsiluni, New Zoo Poetry Review, and other journals. She received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and daughter, and works as a writer and communications manager for a botanical garden. 

“Advent” by Carol Barrett

My mother prepares for winter
Two hummingbirds
Dally on the tip-top rung,
Tomato trellis in patio garden

Two hummingbirds
Take in the crisp, falling air
Tomato trellis in patio garden,
A quiet, temporary lair

My mother takes in crisp air
Arranges winter coats
In her quiet, temporary lair
Thinks of my father, waiting

She arranges winter coats,
Wonders will she need them
Thinks of my father, waiting
His voice, his warm embrace

She wonders will she need
The books, the vases, teacups
His voice, his warm embrace —
She has enough to make it through

The books, the vases, teacups
Can go for another spring
She has enough to make it through
Look! Come watch the hummers

What can go for another spring
Can be boxed and sent away
Look! Come watch the hummers
Whirring, first snow on golden leaves

Soon all will be boxed and sent away
My father calling from the garden,
Whirring, first snow on golden leaves
My mother preparing for winter

Carol Barrett holds doctorates in both clinical psychology and creative writing. She coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute & University. Her books include Calling in the Bones, which won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press, Drawing Lessons from Finishing Line Press, and Pansies, a work of creative nonfiction, from Sonder Press. Her poems have appeared in JAMA, Poetry International, Poetry Northwest, The Women’s Review of Books, and many other venues.