Red River Valley

Three-thirty in the night, thirty-two
and a half hours before the end,
two liters of tissue, blood, and fluid
gush in an arc, red, muddy,
landing on my floor.

I try to imagine what tributaries
have broken what banks of his belly
to wash lumps of liver into his stomach
to be thrown up on my shore
and why he has not yet bled out.

I deposit him on the toilet to sit alone,
wait to be cleaned, bedded,
while I squat in my nightgown
sopping up the flood with paper towels,
sobbing for my carpet.


About the Author: Donna James has practiced psychotherapy for over thirty-five years. After long years of academic writing, she returns to poetry, her first literary love. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Cape Rock, Carbon Culture Review, Kyoto Journal, and Secret Histories: Stories of Courage, Risk, and Revelation.

Boarding School

You had to know my pal Chelminski
to take full measure
of his unfettered enthusiasm for mischief.
One day, for no good reason,
he wrote

PEANUT BUTTER

on the blackboard in history class,
its chalky mockery hidden
behind a Mercator projection of the world,
pulled down to conceal the silliness beneath;
he wrote

PEANUT BUTTER

in red paint in the tiled foyer
beneath the bronze statue of Abe Lincoln
(its nose an erotic protuberance stroked
by giggling, complicit teenage fingers);
he wrote

PEANUT BUTTER

on our textbooks, on our lockers, in the halls,
on the floors beneath our beds,
and at last, on the door
to the headmaster’s living room.

Ah yes, our headmaster, the sanctimonious Tall Paul,
eventually found the ebullient prankster out.

“Chelminski,” he intoned before the entire school,
“I find your all too inappropriate treatment of

PEANUT BUTTER

low,
common,
cheap,
vulgar
and disgusting.”

And here Tall Paul paused, grateful
for the chance to wrinkle his nose
and condemn adolescent masturbation.
From somewhere behind invisible curtains
we could hear Chelminski giggle.

About the author, Victor Altshul: My second and third books of poems, Singing with Starlings (2015) and Ode to My Autumn (2017), were published by Antrim House, and two of my poems have appeared in the Hartford Courant. My work has recently been published in Alabama Literary Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Cape Rock, Caveat Lector, Chantwood Magazine, Coachella Review, Door Is A Jar Magazine, Existere, The Perch, and Studio One. I am active on the board of the Connecticut Poetry Society and have given several readings throughout the state. I am a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Medical School and am on the faculty of the latter. I have been in continuous private practice of psychiatry since 1967.

The Day in the Hilo Social Security Office

The security guard’s starry black eyes lifted her out of her seat into the waiting area.

I can’t tell you anything about social security.
I can tell you how to get a numbered ticket,
where to sit,
when we open and when we close

The bald man next to me said he’d moved to Hilo
because there were too many Mexicans and Blacks in California.
My daughter said later that I should have punched him.

The security guard said:

There’s no point in coming before they open.
Let me put it this way.
If you get here early
and there is no line,
the heavens have parted for you
and sent down angels,
unicorns, mermaids, all sorts of
magical creatures”

It wasn’t anticlimactic
           when she asked me about my
           new aqua New Balance running shoes
     on my way out.
     She said she was going to buy herself a pair
           from the store here in the mall
           after work.

About the Author, Melanie Lee: I live in Brooklyn with my husband, daughter, Havanese and hedgehog.

The State Trooper’s House

Across the road that borders my backyard
at the end of a tarmac drive his house is built
into a rise whose lawn slopes to a pond
about a quarter mile long.  A green scum
extends its length which was broken 
by ducks and a heron.  Most people
don’t know it’s there since his land is hedged
with trees and he owns to the corner
and woods that surround and climb 
for twenty-seven acres.  Trumpet vines
are bellowing orange on rotting fences
and a snake skin glistens near the overturned
boat.  Oars must be in one of several
locked sheds.  The house has no shade,
perfect for solar.  There’s a fireplace
and a heat pump.  Twenty-five years
ago I had just moved in and saw him
the first and last time.  I know what 
you new people want-street lights and 
sewers.  He used to shoot woodchucks.
The underground stream that emerges
to drain his pond he does not visit from 
his nursing home.  

About the Author: Bob Elmendorf has been published in 44 magazines including 4 poems in the current issue of Little Star. He gives infrequent readings and was in poetry workshops for 20 years. He has been teaching Vergil, Catullus, Ovid and Horace and New Testament Greek pro bono to home school teens the last 12 years.

Southern California, Minnesota

I saw the vents in the heater
turn into orange children
or grey flowers
or something.

And Chinese food containers
crushed together to become 
Styrofoam beads that floated 
out toward the trash islands.

A roller blading Veteran yelled at
a burly mustachioed
cop, pointing from a street sign
to a small red covered notebook.

All courage streamed into the husks 
that blew down from the coconut palm
across the pavement, a symphony 
pulsating in the Don’t Walk signal.

About the Author: Henry Cherry is a journalist and photographer based in Los Angles. His recent story appearing in Slippery Elm has been nominated for a Pushcart and is one of the notable stories in the forthcoming Best American Mystery Stories. He has been a featured reader at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and at Litquake in San Francisco. Always the bridesmaid, he was a finalist for the Stegner Fellowship and a finalist for the PEN/USA Rosenthal Fellowship. He created and wrote the history of jazz column for Offbeat magazine. His work has appeared in JMWW, Scalawag, Cordite Poetry Review, Southwestern American Literature, Slippery Elm Literary Journal, Poydras Review, The Louisiana Review, Artillery Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books.

The Story

How deep down can
I suppress Him-
and still narrate his words
to the misunderstood.

About the Author: EG Ted Davis previously published with Poydras Review and continues to have work published on online literary journals here in the US and the UK.

Tell

I’m not tireless
and it is exhausting.
Feverish is better,
misplaced energy.
I drink too much
coffee and not
enough water which
means I’m a human
being and it’s 2018.
I don’t know for sure
but I think you do
beautiful things alone
and for no one. Purse
and prime, posing
in your sleep.
Not me.
I have teeth to grind.

About the poety, Katy Joy Richardson: I am a graduate of Southern Oregon University with a BA in English and Creative Writing. My work was most recently featured in the Columbia Poetry Review.