Larry

Walker Evans (1935) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

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Larry

By Tim Peeler

 

Larry

There’s an owl-faced hillbilly boy staring at me across
The Cracker Barrel dining room where I’m sat back to the fireplace,
Waiting on pecan-crusted catfish, cornbread,
Collards, contemporary country music with its TV accent
Bursting forth like busted springs—that boy
Probably thinks I’m as old as the shit hanging on wall
To authenticate somehow this cattle drive of victuals,
And in the old days I would have frightened him or challenged
His daddy to step outside, but now I know I am just
Another spectacle pinned to the walls of the living
To someway make it look real.

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About the Author: A past winner of the Jim Harrison Award for contributions to baseball literature, Tim Peeler has also twice been a Casey Award Finalist (baseball book of the year) and a finalist for the SIBA Award. He lives with his wife, Penny in Hickory, North Carolina, where he directs the academic assistance programs at Catawba Valley Community College. He has published close to a thousand poems, stories, essays, and reviews in magazines, journals, and anthologies and has written sixteen books and three chapbooks. He has five books in the permanent collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, NY. His recent books include Rough Beast, an Appalachian verse novel about a southern gangster named Larry Ledbetter, Henry River: An American Ruin, poems about an abandoned mill town and film site for The Hunger Games, and Wild in the Strike Zone: Baseball Poems, his third volume of baseball-related poems.

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The Art of Acquiescence

Paula Modersohn-Becker “Die Klagender Frauen” (1902)

 

The Art of Acquiescence

By Margaret Crocker

 

THE ART OF ACQUIESCENCE

To be a woman
in this world
is to bend and curve and slip around its corners
like a snake in the river.

The river has always been there,
the current
and the rocky banks,
the tangle of roots,
a snapping turtle,
a stray foot
or fish just larger than you.
Your role is not to disturb, no.
Look at you!
You have no bones to do so!

All you want is a bug,
a minnow,
a stray lizard,
sunshine
and a warm rock.
But the foot is there,
the current
and the hook.
And you will contort yourself
to meet them all.

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About the Author: Margaret Crocker is an artist, writer, wife, mother, daughter, sister and thief. She collects stray animals and has this weird fantasy of being on The Great British Baking Show, despite the fact she uses a bread machine. She knows little but proclaims much. There is much we don’t know about her.

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Maiden Voyage

Arthur Brown “Man on Bridge” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Maiden Voyage

By Howie Good

 

Maiden Voyage

All things are photographable. Two days ago it was a ruined farmer walking slowly over a country bridge, as if looking for a place to jump. Yesterday it was a man washing a car. Today it was a woman arranging a light-up plastic Jesus in a front yard. Meanwhile, the few children ever visible in this broken part of the world seemed even fewer than usual. Does that surprise you? The only explanation I heard I heard at the barbershop. It was that the Titanic sailed at dawn.

 

About the Author: Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize.  His latest collection is I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books. He co-edits the journals UnLost and Unbroken  with Dale Wisely.

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Mull to Ulva

 Peter Henry Emerson “Cantley: Wherries Waiting for the Turn of the Tide” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

 

Mull to Ulva

By Tobi Alfier

 

Mull to Ulva

Because the distance from land-shore to island
is a fingersnap in the constant of all time.

Because the tides bless fishermen and landlocked alike, full creels
the harvest here, no watery graves, no heartsong, no tears.

Because the store displays bait and boat, strong needles
for sewing the lace of fishing line, not delicate woman-lace.

Because the sun burns with savage brightness, much
as the evening stars will burn unwatched and un-wished upon.

Because the ghosts of old souls and older relics own
the dark, with nary a mortal light upon any land, sea or shore.

Because here, no one interprets the thousand pin-pricks
composing a symphony in the eggy blackness of night.

Because the fragrance of this summer conjures
memory after memory of all pasts and futures.

Because there is no caretaker, no guardian to aid thin fog
search the inlet for branch or crevice with which to gain purchase—

I wish to walk barefoot on old stone, become one with the earth and sea,
learn their secrets, raise my arms to the stars. Palm to palm, our hearts.

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(This poem was originally published in Down Anstruther Way)

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About the Author: Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee.  Her chapbook “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) was published by FutureCycle Press. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” was published by Aldrich Press. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was just published by Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

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The Ferry Captain

“Captain in the Rain at Cleggan Pier, Ireland.” By Jeffrey Alfier

 

The Ferry Captain

By Jeffrey Alfier

 

The Ferry Captain

He is the hull, diesel and waterline that mark him,
ligature of fists on the wheel. He is bow wave
and sting of spindrift, inlets sprawled with waterfowl,
tidewrack, a mind drawing tangent lines no one sees.
The wheelhouse is his tabernacle in the wilderness.
He’s a bulkhead’s argument with rust, a pennant’s
argument with gales. Spend enough of your life
at sea and you can tell windward from leeward
by the taste of wind alone. At a small remove,
just back of the helm, passengers serry against
north Atlantic cold, their voices clipped
by gusts keening through antenna wires.
Sheltered waters far astern, he is the rote cadence
of the deck crew’s footfalls. He won’t worry how late
he gets home, how long he’ll stand with his back
to the seawall, a phone ringing somewhere without
his answer, the sea a rhythm locked in his heart.

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(This poem originally appeared in The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books, 2014)

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About the Author: Jeffrey Alfier is 2018 winner of the Angela Consolo Manckiewick Poetry Prize, from Lummox Press. In 2014 he won the Kithara Book Prize, judged by Dennis Maloney. Publication credits include Crab Orchard ReviewSouthern Poetry ReviewAtlanta Review, Copper NickelEmerson ReviewIron Horse Literary ReviewKestrelHotel AmerikaMidwest QuarterlyPoetry Ireland Review and South Carolina Review. He is author of The Wolf YearlingIdyll for a Vanishing RiverFugue for a Desert MountainAnthem for Pacific Avenue: California PoemsSouthbound Express to Bayhead: New Jersey PoemsThe Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland PoemsBleak Music – a photo and poetry collaboration with poet Larry D. Thomas and The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland. He is founder and co-editor at Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. An Air Force veteran, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

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What Do You Call This? Bubba Ganush?

 

What Do You Call This? Bubba Ganush?

By Mike Acker

 

What Do You Call This? Bubba Ganush?

They hug and whisper kind words
in the other’s ears. They share
their home-cooked fares, and
delight in the quaintness of
the other’s ways and customs.
They express with kinder words
their surprise at the other’s warmth
and grace. They admire each other’s
moral codes and are surprised
at the similarities of both
their devils and their saints.
But as soon as the formalities
come to a peaceful end, they both
return to the open arms of their
jealous gods.

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About the Author: Mike Acker lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has lived in various parts of the world; his early education was in German and French. While living in California, he worked as a professional translator. Mike enjoys writing short poetry, especially with the intent of exploring the possibilities latent in a single image.

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Springmaid Pier

photo by Chase Dimock

 

Springmaid Pier

By Jonathan K. Rice

 

Springmaid Pier

Cigarettes glow orange on cheeks
of patient ruddy faces.
The odor of strip bait and shrimp fills the air.
Tackle boxes, buckets and coolers
line weathered planks.

Lights on fishing boats dot the ocean
as darkness falls. Lanterns and flashlights
on the pier give shadowy shapes
to anglers casting their lines upon the water.

Drag of spinning reels set silent
ready for the tug, pull and fight
of a good-size fish.

Some fishermen armed with heavy line
and oversized lures try for tarpon or barracuda,
while some use chunks of meat, hoping for a shark,
ignoring “No Shark Fishing” signs.

Sea gulls wait on the beach like onlookers
as the tide eases out. Before long I got one!
is heard down the pier. A man pulls in a croaker.
His friend grabs it with a gloved hand,
freeing the hook and dropping it in a bucket.

Another man spits tobacco at the water,
yanking up a blowfish. He cusses, laughs,
throws it back. I quietly wait for a tug on my line
as an old man beside me whispers I think I got something.

He’s slowly reels it in, lifts it from the water,
says what the hell is that?
I tell him it’s an octopus.
He doesn’t know what to do.
I reach for his catch.

I gently take the octopus in one hand.
Its body is about as big as my fist.
Tentacles wrap around my arm,
suction cups hug my wrist.

I carefully try to remove the hook,
its beak mouthing my palm,
when unexpectedly a tentacle comes off.
The old man groans at its loss.

I assure him one will grow back.
He says he’s had enough
and packs up his gear.

I loosen the tentacles.
A squirt of ink runs down my arm,
as I release the octopus
to the water below.

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About the Author: Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is also a visual artist. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications, including Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Diaphanous, Empty Mirror, Gargoyle, Inflectionist Review, Levure Litteraire, The Main Street Rag, Wild Goose Poetry Review and the anthologies, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina.

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