Tag Archives: Finishing Line Press

“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. 

 

 

“Change of Heart” by Marian Shapiro

Suppose – no decisions
could be changed, no fates
rearranged,
nothing broken, nothing
needing repair –
where
would I be then? And you?

Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988),  a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and  two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007); and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). A Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often embeds the  topics of peace and violence by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she is a five-time Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.

“Where the Peaches Are Always Ripe” by Kim Baker

And then a knife
lifting skin from a peach
paring away the succulence
as if fruit never bruises
and she lost the rhythm
for just a moment
the aroma taking her back
that summer
his skin
her sublime laughter

And then the knife did what knives will do
continued cutting
even when she was already bleeding
down to her very bone
and she is alone
his heart stopped long ago
long before this peach
this knife

Her children never understood why
she wouldn’t come live with them
preferred to make her own bed
and lie in the fragrance of what was

So that all she can do in this existential minute
is watch the bright red of her life
flow through her fingers
stain her apron
empty her of all she knew
watch it descend

like a staircase to another place
where the peaches are always ripe
and she can swallow them whole
because wasting the skin
the pit of grace
is just too human

When she isn’t writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, Kim works to end violence against women. A poet, playwright, photographer, and NPR essayist, Kim publishes and edits Word Soup, an online poetry journal that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks. Kim’s chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence: Musings about Poems and Paintings, is now available from Finishing Line Press.

“Inches” by Jamie Lynn Heller

Some inches slide
smoothly along a surface,
easy to measure.
Others are deceptive,
deep enough
to drown in calm seas.

She told me,
looking up from where
she intently inched
one finger along the chair fabric,
that meth makes her beautiful.

I walk in the mornings
on a crowded sidewalk
where bumped shoulders
cross canyons between
strangers who are farther
apart than a touch.

While in my own space,
we sleep inches apart,
the sheet between us
grows cold during the night.

Some inches slide
along a surface.
Others are deep enough
to drown.

Jamie Lynn Heller is a Pushcart Prize nominee (Little Balkans Review 2014) and Best of the Net nominee (805 Lit + Art 2016). Domesticated, was published in 2015 (Finishing Line Press). She received honorable mention awards in Whispering Prairie Press Writing Contest 2012and Kansas Voices Contest 2017, 2011. jamielynnheller.blogspot.com

“A Glass of Wine Near Birds” by Judith Bader Jones

At twilight, Grackles and Goldfinches drink water,
but I prefer transparent Riesling, a wine to capture
in-between-light when all gets said and undone.

Glass in hand I drink and watch birds clutch
the rim of the feeder. My hand grasps a glassful
of stemmed memories populated with music.

After one sip of time people gather and hang around
for a last drink served up near birds perched next to
my life’s collection of ghosts. No one flies solo.

Judith Bader Jones’ poems appear in The Language of Small Rooms and Moon Flowers on the Fence,chapbooks published by Finishing Line Press. Her book of short fiction, DeltaPearls, published by Sweetgum Press, Warrensburg, MO  received the William Rockhill Nelson Award for Fiction. She has upcoming poems in I-70 Review, Heart, and CHEST, The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.