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 Emerson

 

If Emerson was right that the earth

Laughs in flowers, then it must cry in people.

Michael T. Smith​

 

The Just Before Dying

 

Ten days remembered—the pressure

from his hand, a flow of nurses,

 

the damp swabs dipped in morphine.

The woman who played a harp

 

in his room. And the last breath,

the last beat against my palm,

 

conjuring, the fleeting—

the smell of my children’s hair

 

as infants, fireflies,

a slight sliver

 

of a moon. Small eruptions—

pebbles of rain on the pond.

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract  and Notes from a Nomad. Recently, poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Stirring: a Literary Journal, Whale Road Review, Front Porch, The Sewanee Review, and RHINO. In May of 2016, she was a 30/30 Poet for Tupelo Press. One poem was selected by Mass Poetry Festival Migration Contest to be stenciled on the sidewalk in Salem, MA, for the annual festival, April 2017. Another poem was nominated for Best of Net 2017.

https://sarahdickensonsnyder.com

        Hospice

 

Caught in the snare of She'ol, dew gives brief life to dust

as they pull the tubes loose, hand me a bag of pills.

In the wake of disaster, we drive home from the hospital.

 

I dissect the memories for her, one last time

alphabetize faces in stacks of photographs

with the passionless objectivity of a grunt laborer

excavating layers of ash-buried Pompeii. I dissect the memories for her

 

as they come, unbidden, help catalogue

and file our stories away impartially as

a lab tech methodically filling slides with samples of cancer, she

mutters, "so that's where we went wrong"

too many times for comfort.

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center

in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl.

 

 

 

            A Mass Casualty Event

 

When I see photos from our opioid crisis

I see what we’ve lost- heroes, heroines-

the folks choose heroin instead.

Not surprising, the place we’re in.

Come on. We all want something’ bigger

to believe in. Else we wanna quit, else

we wanna throw in the towel,

up and leave a life that don’t seem to

give a damn, anyhow. Collapsed towns

hinge on a life once was. Industry

before automation. Too much too fast and

the rust belt gets the dust. Young men

in track shorts and sports socks with burned out

holes stretch by coffee tables, next to La-Z-boys

but these ain’t lazy boys these are boys

without hope, these are fathers and sons and

brothers and dreamers who once had a hero (or two)

now lookin for the pop of a vein to take the place

of past promises and goals. Gone Fishin’. Out To Lunch.

Leave a message at the beep. No body’s home.

A generation decides checkin out is the safest place to be-

just put me out of my misery- one from Dayton might

say, recovery’s too hard and life don’t care.

Where have all the flowers gone? Abandoned trailers everyone.

Foreclosed houses, mountains of debt. Make me disappear

is what they want and (sadly) get.

Tranquilize like an elephant. That’s how big the pain.

That’s how deep this river runs.

Money talks. A generation dies. Out stretched arms

don’t even make it ‘cross the threshold, once reached for the sky.

Now the sky don’t even care. The sun don’t shine on everyone,

don’t ya know. And who can blame them.

The morgues say they can’t keep up. Who will stand up?

Roll back sleeves, lift the pain of our creation,

inject meaning into lives, drop in the angels, hold out

for a hero, insert a heroine, give ‘em hope not dope.

Transmute the pain, it don’t seem to be goin’ away.

What’s at stake? The country we made. Woman,

man, the country we made.

 

How I Like My Quiet

 

I love quiet that lets me hear the house talk.

Intermittent shifts and shuffles.

A random thud.

We sit together, trading stories.

Lilly Bright is a filmmaker, writer, mother and performing artist currently living in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Establishment, Mutha Magazine as well as in public readings around the Los Angeles area. She earned her BA from Goddard College in 2001 with a focus on dance and woman’s studies. When not standing at her desk, typing, Lilly can be found in the kitchen, baking.

Turned and Gone Away

 

For my loved sister, Jean

 

Your house,

gripped by flood,

floats from its foundations,

sinking ever lower.

You sit on the roof.

I cry out to you,

swim, throw a rope,

beg you to leave

but you can only wring your hands,

turn and float away.

 

Small and diminished,

you tremble before a precipice

filled with darkness.

I cry out that I understand

your fears of age,

diminished powers, loneliness,

the horror that shuffling dependency

may lead you into actions once unspeakable

but you can only wring your hands,

turn and step away.

 

In deep denial you reel

from the mirror, truth.

You close your eyes

and cover your ears.

I cry out that I understand

how time and circumstance have trapped you,

that you have grown far too old for truth,

that you need to pretend you still are

the wonderful person you once were

but you can only wring your hands,

stagger and flee away.

 

You shuffle

down a long corridor

in the slow and painful way

of your last years.

I cry out that I understand

how extreme age forced you

into secrets, deceptions,

and, much worse, sad betrayal

of some you so loved.

I shout I love you and forgive you

but the words echo and bounce

down the empty corridor.

You have ceased wringing your hands.

You have turned and gone away.

Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It also made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work reflects strong interest in social justice. Recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Poeming Pigeon, Silver Birch Press, Rat's Ass Review, Praxis Mag Online, Ekphrastic Review, Social Justice Poetry and Verse-Virtual. He blogs at windofflowers.blogspot.com.au 

Odd

 

One morning I decided not to make

his tea. Then I stopped counting out

the vitamins. He was late for work,

but he made his own ham sandwich.

I stopped buying the ham he liked, and

he made do with salami. I quit going

outside to wave good-by. I didn’t

watch his face, blurred by the wind-

shield, already concentrated on his work.

 

Sometimes I feel guilty writing poems

while he bobs around the kitchen, even

talking to himself because he’s in a

hurry and will probably forget his wallet

or his phone. Writing requires privacy,

a cell of quiet, drained of his requirements.

It’s neither selfish nor unselfish to want

to be alone and think. Some of us go

out in the world, some of us bring it in.

 

He doesn’t miss me much, or at least

it doesn’t seem that way. Odd that

I’d want him to complain. Writing is

invisible work. What am I doing?

He’s ready to leave, and I’ve already

planned that it’s okay if he forgets to

kiss me. Who am I kidding? This is

about the silence after he’s gone.

 

 

Birth Control, 1975

 

The rain falls in lead pellets.

Today you are seeing the doctor.

He is old and his hands were made

for swinging blunt instruments,

but he flattens one palm on your

stomach, and stretches you wide

with the other. Your knees resist,

you say sorry to the wall. He swabs

his gloved fingers with petroleum

jelly and puts them in places you are

still yourself unsure of. He

scrapes a sample from inside you.

 

Now the rain falls in dollops

and blisters the treatment room’s

windows. He pinches your nipples

as if they were guilty.

The clamps of the speculum are

collapsed—you are entire, not

a room to be inspected. He never

looks you in the face—he’d know you

are the same age as his daughter.

The lady at the desk gives you a bag.

You're young enough that it’s exciting

to open it although it’s just a pamphlet

and a metal tube of something greasy.

 

Outside, it’s still raining. You light

the cigarette you stole from your mom.

There’s no one to tell about this.

How he inserted one rubber disk

after another, sizing you as if for

a special shoe. A nurse was supposed

to be there, but she never appeared.

He looked at you as already damaged

beyond recall, a cause lost without

a fight, a wound he couldn’t heal.

The raindrops drop like petals on

the sidewalk. You wonder if the boy

will call tonight.

Janet Smith

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