Tag Archives: Finishing Line Press

“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.

 

“Directions Back to Childhood” by Judith Waller Carroll

Turn left at the first sign of progress
and follow the old highway
along the Stillwater River.
When you hear the whistle of the train,
take a right and cross the covered bridge
that leads to the rodeo grounds
where the silver-maned bronc
caused so much havoc the summer you were ten
and the ghost of your grandfather’s jeep
rests behind the bleached-out grandstand
choked with blackberries.
As you round the corner into town,
there’s a white picket fence
laced with lilacs. Walk through the gate.
You’ll see a blue and white Western Flyer
lying on its side in the middle of the sidewalk.
It will take you the rest of the way.

Judith Waller Carroll is the author of What You Saw and Still Remember, a runner-up for the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Award, The Consolation of Roses, winner of the 2015 Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press Poetry Prize, and Walking in Early September (Finishing Line Press).

“The Road” by Carla Schwartz

The road of asphalt, still covered in winter’s detritus,
the road of lined up houses that part for a parade,
the road of school, of church, of aqueduct.

I travel the road by bicycle, by the side of the road, the shoulder,
my shoulders, a little hunched,
my thumbs resting on break hoods.

The road of large brass sewer covers,
of small round or square plates for gas, for water,
where the road dips and rises like a pillow.

The road of potholes, of layers of asphalt,
eaten away by salt,
successive thaws and freezes.

The road of roadkill — headless rabbits, flattened turtles, snakes,
sparrows, and turkey plumes spread like a headdress
in the middle of the road.

On the road, I listen, keep a watch for glass, for dips.
On this road, the shoulder narrows, then widens,
my pace slows down as I ride uphill.

At an intersection, on the road,
metal eyeglass frames, squashed and skewed,
one lens missing, the other shattered.

Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger. Her poems have appeared in many journals. Her second collection of poetry, Intimacy with the Wind, is available from Finishing Line Press or Amazon.com. Find her debut collection, Mother, One More Thing (Turning Point, 2014) on Amazon.com.  Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,700,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com or find her @cb99videos.

 

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“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.