Saturday, 16 December 2017

Winner of the Purple Heart

by Marty Eberhardt


Tall, fair, athletic, an excellent student
He was headed,
By everyone’s calculation,
For greatness.
The habit of discipline kept him achieving
After the war, but it could not stay his hand
From the bottle.

He was the war hero who cried
As he shoveled a dead squirrel
Into the garbage,
The man whose hands shook
On the steering wheel
As he drove across a bridge.
He listened, of an evening,                  
To opera,
Eyes martini-soft with memories.
His family watched for the soft eyes,
Then the sudden angers.
The irony pricked them:
His anaesthetic grew their pain.

How many hearts
Lie bruised like his
In the breasts of soldiers?
How many of their children
Speak with a steady voice
Belying their tremors.
Let us not forget
To add them
To the spreadsheets of statistics
Detailing the costs of war.


* * * * *


"Winner of the Purple Heart" was first published in the 2015 edition of The Guilded Pen, the annual anthology of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild

Friday, 15 December 2017

Not Humming

by Laura Foley


On the forced march
from Tientsin to Woosung,
our Marines, ordered silent—
No humming or singing,
snapped the Japanese,
as the men trudged
a hundred miles to prison.
My father not humming
the whole of four winters,
or to my knowledge, since.


* * * * *

“Not Humming” is from the author’s collection Night Ringing (Headmistress Press). 


Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including, most recently, WTF and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, with an M.A. and a M. Phil. in English Lit. from Columbia University, she lives with her partner, and three big dogs among the hills of Vermont.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Daddy's Girls

by Laura Foley


He wanted a boy so badly,
he called four girls
a Chinese curse,
blamed our mother,
haunted us, his
unwanted daughters.
Kiss me, he'd insist...
Quickly, we learned
to turn away,
duck his gaze,
but still he broke us,
two to madness,
one to meanness,
one to poetry.


* * * * *

“Daddy’s Girls” was first published in Night Ringing (Headmistress Press).

Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including, most recently, WTF and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, with an M.A. and a M. Phil. in English Lit. from Columbia University, she lives with her partner, and three big dogs among the hills of Vermont.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Braided              

by Gail Thomas


When he called her high-strung, I imagined a horse
rearing up white-eyed, not the woman who dusted
down walls every week and sprawled on the floor
braiding strips of wool into a rug.

When I answered the pay phone in the hall, he
stumbled with the news -- break-down. I saw
thin wires snapping, her still body in a white
room. Because you moved away. When I moved

farther, she offered the rug and wrote a letter,
because you were a cold child. Now I change
her diaper, trim chin hair, bring a cactus with
one yellow flower. She calls me angel, my angel.


* * * * *

“Braided” is from the author’s collection Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015).

Gail Thomas,
http://www.gailthomaspoet.com/, has published four books of poetry, Odd Mercy (Headmistress Press, 2016), Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015), No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haley’s, 2001) and Finding the Bear (Perugia Press, 1997).

Waving Back was named a Must Read for 2016 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and Honorable Mention in the New England Book Festival.  Odd Mercy won the Charlotte Mew Prize of Headmistress Press and its “Little Mommy Sonnets” won Honorable Mention in the Tom Howard/ Margaret Prize for Traditional Verse.

Thomas’s work has appeared in many journals and anthologies including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, The North American Review, Hanging Loose, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Individual poems have won national prizes and Thomas was awarded residencies at The McDowell Colony and Ucross.

Her book, No Simple Wilderness, about the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930’s has been taught in college writing and interdisciplinary courses. As one of the original teaching artists for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Elder Arts Initiative, Thomas led workshops and collaborated with dancers, musicians and storytellers in schools, nursing homes, hospitals and libraries across the state.

She speaks at conferences and poetry festivals, reads her work widely in community and academic settings, and lives in Northampton, MA. 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

All Hallows


by Gail Thomas


I feared grandmother’s faded corset
draped over the shower bar, laces
dangling like naked pink worms.
And the way my gentle father
morphed to monster when faced       
with a leaky faucet or faulty lock.

On Halloween I did not want to be
a princess, though rescue seemed exciting
in an unnamed sexual way. I asked for
matador, like the poster in our rec room
of a sinuous man, twirling his red cape
before the dark beast.

My mother sewed knee pants and
bolero jacket trimmed with gold braid,
black hat, cumberbund and flaring
scarlet cape, complicit in this break
with custom, except
the suit was pink, pink, pink.

No one warns little ghosts about
the price of desire, the body’s betrayals,
and oh, the masks of want.


* * * * *

“All Hallows” is from the author’s collection Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015).

Gail Thomas,
http://www.gailthomaspoet.com/, has published four books of poetry, Odd Mercy (Headmistress Press, 2016), Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015), No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haley’s, 2001) and Finding the Bear (Perugia Press, 1997).

Waving Back was named a Must Read for 2016 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and Honorable Mention in the New England Book Festival.  Odd Mercy won the Charlotte Mew Prize of Headmistress Press and its “Little Mommy Sonnets” won Honorable Mention in the Tom Howard/ Margaret Prize for Traditional Verse.

Thomas’s work has appeared in many journals and anthologies including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, The North American Review, Hanging Loose, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Individual poems have won national prizes and Thomas was awarded residencies at The McDowell Colony and Ucross.
Her book, No Simple Wilderness, about the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930’s has been taught in college writing and interdisciplinary courses. As one of the original teaching artists for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Elder Arts Initiative, Thomas led workshops and collaborated with dancers, musicians and storytellers in schools, nursing homes, hospitals and libraries across the state.


She speaks at conferences and poetry festivals, reads her work widely in community and academic settings, and lives in Northampton, MA. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Auschwitz-Birkenau               

by Nanette Rayman


Taste the color of red, a noxious crimson gas the way
you would smell the street after a fierce acid rain. Promise
to tell the extraneous pink dahlias to bless
my people. Our song has always been
blue and white. Press your animal thumbs
to your ashen foreheads, press hard
into your heartless green envy of our survival
beauty. If you cannot get past your gray heritage, try
again slowly. Think of a child stacking block upon block.

After each block, pray for your own souls. The marrow
of my people endures. So insistent is the rain,
we endure and this memorial only makes us know
you are more shameful. We rise like a great tribe
of birds—free. We can soar as high as Ein Sof. The sun
rises alongside the countryside. We rise like a united
fist. We are the birds. Ziporim.
Baruch HaShem.            

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Bless Him -------

by Nanette Rayman


He tried real hard to take his own life.
All the people on Wall Street acted
as if wind blew them past. They didn’t even bless him.      
No one stopped to help him. I put my arm around him       
and called an ambulance. I blessed him.             
He asked me to ride with him to St. Vincent’s Hospital.
He was younger than me by a lot. With no self-
pity, just seams of jangling sadness, he said: My baby left me. I love her
so. I need her. Wind blows up and down the stairs of The Stock Market.
Administrative assistants pull at their pencil skirts and lean like lamp posts.
He asks me to go for coffee forgetting he’s taken too many pills.
To get swallowed up by this sweet sick man I would descend like
a spastic bird. To descend quickly into a subway station I would
have to leave him among the financial ruins, among the suits
and stone and browning bananas not sold today on fruit stands.
I waited with him ‘til the paramedics came. I went with him
to St. Vincent’s Hospital and watched the charcoal shoved
down his throat. Nurses were angry at him. They did not bless him.
Not everyone who falls is caught. Not everyone is saved.

It never stops now, the stars, the what-happened
which has no ground to stand on—Baruch HaShem,
I’m saving myself for someone now,
falling off my pumps on Wall Street.
I thought I saw him walking toward me today.