Free Verse  with Vera Ignatowitsch

Little Ghosts

 

Look, photographs tell the

story.

 

Or at least, the black and whites.

Dimples sweet and deep, not sunken,

new clothes to dress up elastic bodies,

mouths full of smiles, arms full of

inflated wishes.

 

Newlyweds, cutting buttercream cake.

Her hair in thick ringlets, his slicked

with gel, a contagious completion of

joy, radiating.

 

I imagine her dress was heavenly white.

I imagine Tomorrow in the back corner,

snickering.

 

Love is a swelling of youth.

It’s Dinah Washington’s voice,

crooning a naïve melody.

 

Our love is here to stay, together

we’re going a long, long way.

 

I am not young but bloated on the past.

Possessed, choking on spirits, I run.

Beginning caves into end, and middle

is abyss.

 

Their home collapsed. Husband, wife,

and little ones falling through rotten

floorboards, no way to wipe the crumbling

dry wall from their faces.

 

I wanted to keep my love warm but they

occupy the rooms, bedroom, kitchen,

the rickety staircase, bursting with cautious

mumblings, haunting crevices.

 

The end is an empty beer bottle in his grip.

The end is her cradling pennies and neurosis.

 

I’m not wise, I lock my pictures in a drawer,

shoo away the ghosts, open the door to let

Him in.

Mary Durocher is a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College. She’s a creative writing and journalism student but her true passion has always been writing poetry.

Copacetic

 

The word of the day is copacetic.

I see my brother and me packing suitcases for our trip.

In the frame of the doorway my father stands.

“Everything copacetic?” he says.

One time I asked him where he learned that word.

“As a Marine,” and he told me about his service in the Korean War.

“It was tough,” he said.

 

In the end, I visited him at the hospital.

“Have some jello.” I held a spoon with a wobble of red before his face.

“Don’t want it.”

“You’ve got to eat, Dad.”

“I’m not hungry.” He pushed it away.

I sat by him from morning until shadows crossed his face.

Mostly he slept. Sometimes he asked what time it was.

I left at nine. The nurse called.

“Your father’s agitated. He wants to leave. Talking about a trip.”

“I’ll be there soon.”

 

I stand in the doorway of his hospital room.

He’s at the window,

wearing the blue bathrobe my sister gave him.

“It brings out your eyes,” she told him.

“Everything copacetic?” I say.

He turns and looks.

“It was tough,” he says.

I guide him to the bed and sleep in the chair beside him.

When I wake, I find that he has gone.

 

 

James Mulhern has published many times. In 2015 he was awarded a fully paid writing fellowship to Oxford University. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

For My Sons, A Few Facts

 

One minute you’re saying, “No, thank you”

to a second helping of sweet potato pie—

 

a day later, you’re a goner. Listen, boys,

tomorrow morning you’ll think of things

 

you wish you’d said. Go, fix what’s broken.

Regret is blue and waits in a small room down the hall.

 

 

Victoria Melekian lives in Southern California. Her poems and stories have been published in various print and online journals. To read her work, visit http://victoriamelekian.com.

The Last Time I Had To See You

 

You sat them on an icy oak table—

the package of my father’s ashes—

like an old-fashioned box cake.

 

Your dusty, branch-colored fingers

gripped a pile of pearly white paper sheets

with the profiles of people you were to keep

until their relatives were ready

to let God keep them or send them

to the next place they should be.

 

Then I swore I could see my father’s ashes

throbbing through the box.

I thought he preferred

to be with drunks than with me.

I never got one call from him on a holiday.

I never got to know the strength

of his heart’s soul in a close embrace.

 

Why should I care about his ashes?

 

I remember the room space, an opened box

in the evening in a basement.

I remember I sat, stiff as new chopsticks.

My heart was cake, sunken in the center.

My eyes were acorns in a puddle.

Suddenly you said, “You can come back

for them another time if you like,”

and then drew on one of the sheets

the cost for holding remains of

a poor black man you do not know.

 

 

Victoria Hunter is from Pennsylvania. In October 2019, she appeared on the cover of Conceit Magazine. Her work has appeared in The Writer, Sparks of Calliope, WordFest Anthology, and other publications. She manages a YouTube channel dedicated to the craft of poetry.

Addiction

 

The first and last thought to cling to before you fall

is that you cannot fall a little. You can open the

window above the gray sidewalk, the Amtrak rails,

 

the rippling Huron, just a little letting in a scattering

of tiny cold rain spikes, the tragic arias of hospital

traffic and the bellowing of the train. But you can

no more jump and plunge a few feet than you can

 

cling to this thought as you rush toward the pavement.

You are not an incorrigible tangle of weeds that can

survive being slightly uprooted, nor a fertile planet

 

that can thrive after being a smidgin laid waste.

You can no more flutter partway down than you can

be partially raped — no more catch yourself mid-fall

than can an infant tumbling out of its mother.

 

 

Timothy Robbins teaches English as a second language. He has published three volumes of poetry: Three New Poets (Hanging Loose Press), Denny’s Arbor Vitae (Adelaide Books) and Carrying Bodies (Main Street Rag Press). He lives in Wisconsin with his husband of 21 years.

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Suzanne Robinson by issue:

     March 2020     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019    July 2019    May 2019   

 March 2019     January 2019     November 2018      September 2018     July 2018     June 2018     May 2018     April 2018   

  March 2018     February 2018     January 2018     December 2017     November 2017     October 2017     September 2017   

   August 2017     July 2017     June 2017     May 2017     April 2017     March 2017     February 2017     January 2017   

  December 2016     November 2016     October 2016     September 2016     August 2016     June 2016     May 2016

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch by issue:

     March 2020     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019     July 2019     May 2019

Copyright  Better Than Starbucks 2020, a poetry magazine    

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