in Issue 6

Poetry

An Ubi Sunt for the Bees, Eric Blanchard
Jeanne Calment of France, Kerry Trautman
Leave-Taking, Kathy Austin
Groundwork in Persistence, Gina Giardina
Honestly, Jane Kretschmann
December, Joyce Genari
Upon Not Yet Being Diagnosed, Heather Martin
Lily, Sara Bickley
Resubmitting, Sara Bickley
When You Think of a Distant War, Noah Falck
Vigil, Nicole Rahe
Science of Wasted Motion, Marietta Ball
Do You Know Any Blues? Jane Kretschmann
Espresso’s Perfume, Chuck Von Nordheim
Red Giants, Marc Mannheimer
The Hospital Chaplain Nears the End of His Career, Len Byers
Wind Story, Elizabeth Schmidt
River Color, Chuck Von Nordheim
Advice to the Lovelorn, Mary Jo White
She Thinks I Don’t Have Any Original Ideas, Brandon Edward North
Before They Tell You It’s Over, Noah Falck
Fossils, Elizabeth Schmidt
Beware of Poet, Eric Blanchard

Fiction

Last Will in Testament, Lori Lopez
Dodging the Past, Cyndi Pauwels
Glass House, Mary Jo White

Nonfiction

Unexplored Country, Ed Davis
More Than a Massage, Tara Pettit

Photography

All That Jazz, Alison Bour
Dark Tunnel, Anna Moser

And thank you to
the Sponsors of Issue 6!

Beware of Poet

Beware of Poet
Eric Blanchard

The white sign with bold lettering
has been tinged rusty orange by weather.
It is bolted to a worn wooden fence

and meant to warn passers of danger:
A madman may be tossing meter and rhyme.
Beware of poet! Now you know; you’ve been told.

The ranting could be endless, and the muttering—
the sputtering—could last deep into the night.
Don’t get too close; you could catch it.

There is pathos unleashed in the yard, and
it could envelop your soul, if you’re not careful.
You could get slobbered on for life.

about the author
Eric Blanchard grew up in Houston, Texas, and later earned degrees in philosophy (B.A.) and jurisprudence (J.D.). In addition to practicing law, Eric has been editor-in-chief of an international trade law journal, and worked in the Texas legislature. Eric’s poetry has been published in publications such as Hanging Moss Journal, Autumn Sky Poetry, Oak Bend Review, Rust and Moth, Breadcrumb Scabs, and Pudding Magazine. He has been known to blog about poetry, politics and the world beyond at eric’s voices at http://ericvblanchard.wordpress.com/. Eric resides in Dayton, Ohio, with his beautiful girlfriend, her young son, three dogs, and two tiny fish.

Before They Tell You It’s Over

Before They Tell You It’s Over
Noah Falck

Cars fill with people, move north at high speeds, windows leak the music of our time. The surrounding hills want to begin again, have another life as a sidewalk in a one-stoplight town. The wind died near sunset, left everything feeling like an empty closet in an empty home. Night spreads out like a hunchback on a couch of burned out stars. Part of the sky is dotted with an airplane’s blinking red light. The moon bleeds brilliantly over it all.

about the author
Noah Falck is the author of Snowmen Losing Weight (BatCat Press, 2012). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Forklift Ohio, La Petite, Barn Owl Review, Fact-Simile, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. He works as Education Director at Just Buffalo Literary Center in Buffalo, New York.

She Thinks I Don’t Have Any Original Ideas

She Thinks I Don’t Have Any Original Ideas
Brandon Edward North

You’ve been listening to The Beatles a lot lately,
and after hearing every studio album, you say
“I really can’t believe that ‘Helter Skelter’ was them!”
You know when I flash a smirk that I’m thinking about
how you’re a ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret?’ person
rather than a ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’ one.

“Hey, you know I like some serious stuff, too,” you say.
I reply that outside of Shakespeare and some classic novels,
you’re still way behind me in your appreciation of art;
you roll your eyes and adopt an incredulous voice
to tell me that I “always make too great a judgment about
people with too little an amount of information.”

Recollections of reading King Arthur then come to me—
you’d said that Guinevere and Lancelot never had sex
but I was sure they did and I told you to scan the pages.
You found Le Morte d’Arthur and read several tales aloud
before we learned that their secret passion was consummated
and started a feud between Arthur and his closest knight.

Something had felt awfully familiar about those stories,
and when your boyfriend came into the living room,
I’d considered that perhaps my mother had told me them.
As he and I began to joke like brothers, you joined in
while I kept looking over at your golden curls
to make sure I hadn’t seen a crown covering them.

But now it’s late, so I tell you ‘bye’ at the door.
I hear you turn the lock, and think of a Kerouac quote
as I walk out into the solitary winter-night air.
He’d wrote that if you “offer them what they secretly want,
they immediately become panic-stricken,” and so I stride
across the concrete like I’d been on the road myself.

I get in my truck and put in a Velvet Underground CD.
When I reach the highway, a ballad comes on,
it’s singer crooning in a melodiously ambiguous voice;
and as I hear the line, “the fact that you are married
only proves you’re my best friend,” I recall people saying:
“Hey, you sound like Lou Reed—I dig it, man.”

No one ever seems to think the future will come—
It pisses me off when I’m exactly right about it
and no one I love listens to me when it’s the present.
When I warn them about the pitfalls on their path
and quote Robert Frost to make certain they know
“how way leads onto way,” they think I want to sound smart.

They tell me that I quote people too much.
I suppose they think I couldn’t possibly
know their soul better than they know it themselves—
even pagans like you always forget my Whitmanian belief
that everything is part of the larger whole
and I don’t consider my own to be apart from theirs.

You say that “people have to make their own mistakes—”
but streetlights illuminate all the roads I’m taking
and I wonder why I wasn’t blessed with dull perception.
Introducing Howl, William Carlos Williams said that
“poets are damned, but they are not blind,” and it must be true
because I can’t prevent tragedies a mile away—even for myself.

At home, I turn my iPod on as I get into bed;
the breathy yelp of The Smiths’ postmodern crooner
comes into my ears, channeling Kerouac himself.
He moans over the band that “pretty girls make graves”
and I’m certain now that you’ve said I can sing better
someone will soon say how much I sound like Morrissey too.

about the author
Brandon Edward North is a poet from Dayton, Ohio and recently graduated from Wright State University with a B.A. in English. He is currently applying to MFA programs around the country, and thanks Mock Turtle for the great hospitality they continue to show to his work. His poems can be found in other issues of Mock Turtle and in issues of Wright State’s Fogdog Review.

 

 

 

Glass House

Glass House
Mary Jo White

Rain patters steadily on the skylight above me, the sound a kind of white noise.  I tip back precariously on a fragile, antique chair, one of six, all paid for, thank God, chairs bought when we, one big, unhappy family, moved in here. Sighing, I pull myself up to our trendy distressed cherry table, and begin scribbling another list, this of the few bills I can let slide this month. Tommy is again weeks late with his check. Lizzie and Anton, supposedly playing together on the kitchen floor, are in fact fighting. Lizzie screams in rage and belts her big brother. He’s grabbed another of the large, blue, particularly valuable legos she especially fancies.

“Mom, she hit me,” Anton yells from three feet away on the off chance that I may be deaf as well as blind. I’m thinking, good for her, when I see Spike our neurotic, little cockapoo, unstrung by the commotion, preparing to pee on a table leg.

“Enough!” I bellow. I scoop the dog up and carry him to the back door where he’s dumped unceremoniously onto the deck. He looks up at me, bewildered, then trots off as big drops of water splat onto the wood. Poor old Spike. Time after time, for no clear reason he can fathom, he is swooped down upon, lifted into the air and deposited elsewhere by the huge, capricious beings who rule his life. He has major trust issues as, come to think of it, do we all.

Anton and Lizzie, always interested in spectacle, stare, mouths half open. Then Lizzie turns and says,

“Mommy, look.”

She points to the window over the sink. The condensation from doing the supper dishes has evaporated and I can see the small, muddy ghost of a bird, arrested in mid-flight, imprinted on the glass.

“Go see if it’s hurt. Go see now.”

At four, Lizzie is so much like her absent father it might scare me if she wasn’t so solidly also herself, her own little person and my Lizzie Lou. But she possesses Tommy’s imperious manner, his grandiose gestures and, worst of all, she shares his habit of looking disbelievingly at me as if I were the no-contest, hands-down dolt of the western world. It amazes me how much I love her, how I simply look her way and my heart expands, a dry, crumbling sponge suddenly swelled, saturated with emotion.

We live in a big, expensive house, a house that’s been on the market for months with no takers in sight, whose mortgage I can only hope to pay through the working of some regular, monthly miracle. In March it was an unexpected early bonus courtesy of two eighty-hour weeks spent on the Atwood account.

This is Tommy’s dream house made, not well, mostly of glass. But it is not the casting of stones that is causing our present predicament. It is spring at last, late April, and the weather has been beyond wet. For the last three weeks, on window after window, we’ve found the perfect, small imprints of bird after bird, birds arrested in mid-flight, ambushed by their own reflections. Seeking what? A soulmate? One tantalizingly there but always just beyond reach?

The news however is not all bad. Lizzie and Anton and I have as yet found no small, feathered bodies on the deck, the patio, the porch, although we have looked carefully.

It’s raining now, hard, straight down; a steady rat-tat-tat sounds through the screen door. Anton, who’s seven and the big brother here, stares at this latest apparition on the kitchen window. The torture-by-legos he was in the midst of inflicting on his little sister has completely slipped his mind. He is, my son, much like me; I see my eyes, my skinny frame, my worried look. As a result our relationship is complicated and often difficult.

“We should go check,” he says to me. “This one could be hurt.”

Despite his fondness for tormenting Lizzie, he is always on the lookout for something that needs saving, rescuing, tending. There is no dearth of such things here: the afore-mentioned, intermittently housebroken Spike, two female hamsters, Wally and Gwendolyn  (“the rats,” Tommy called them), a large murky tank of guppies all named Gus, three generations of de-clawed housecats, and of course Lizzie, and me, Lorraine, thirty-eight-year-old adult, and official mommy-in-charge. Once again I hear Tommy muttering darkly about no fun, too much responsibility, and myself talking to him, prophetically as it turns out, about heat, a kitchen, getting out.

So we all troop out onto the shelter of the front porch, which the window overlooks. The rain is beating on the grass with a sound like the fists of some small, enraged child. Spike, ambles up, soaked. Always looking for the main chance, he scoots between Anton’s legs into the house. I hear him shaking himself as I close the door. Forgetting for a moment his muddy paw prints on white, tiled floor, water dripping down the wallpaper, as though I’d turned on a lawn sprinkler in the hallway, I see that this time we have a casualty. One of the house wrens lies on the slippery, gray-painted boards, breathing so rapidly it amazes me its tiny chest is capable of meeting the demands being made upon it without imploding. Anton bends down to pick it up.

“Wait,” I say. “Leave it be. It’s only stunned; it may fly away.”

Not likely. It looks to have been pole-axed.

Lizzy hunkers down on her sweet, fat little legs, brow wrinkled with concentration. She is looking intently at this tiny, imperiled bit of life. Thunder is again grumbling off to the west. It occurs to me that we should be out buying plans for an ark instead of worrying about some small, dying bird.

“Lizzie. Leave it be,” Anton echoes to his sister, interrupting my diluvian thoughts. “It’s only stunned.”

He does this more and more often, interprets my words for Lizzie by repeating them. I don’t know what it means. He misses his dad. At least before, Anton got to see Tommy on the weekends. I worry about him now that his father is in goddam Tampa with Maureen. She’s a flight attendant. An oddly appropriate title, I think.

It pains me to have to admit that Anton is not the only one acting strangely. There is the matter of my list making.  Lists litter the house. I find myself writing down the food I must buy, the annuals I mean to pick up at the nursery, the bills I can’t pay and, lately, my losses, which with the passage of time still do not feel any less sudden or severe. Rarely, and then only grudgingly, I force myself to set down my blessings.

“I ONLY want to see.” Lizzie is saying. Of course, she then takes her finger and gently pokes the hyperventilating little creature.

“LIZZY,” Anton yells.

“Look, ” I say. “Its breathing is slowing down. That’s a good sign.”

We stand, looking in silence. Any moment I fear the bird’s bright eyes will begin to dull, to turn milky as we watch.

“Okay, everybody inside,” I order. “We’ll check again in the morning but I bet this little birdie will be back in her nest before dark.”

“Before dark,” Anton says seriously to Lizzie who straightens up, looking, with eyes full of confidence and trust, first at her brother and then at her lying mommy.

“Before dark,” she echoes quietly.

The cloudburst has finally slackened. As I pull the door shut after us, I see lightning still playing among black, scudding clouds.

There will be one more trip outside tonight. Stepping out of a darkened, slumbering house into the bright circle of porch light, into the drowned night music of insects and frogs, I’ll bend down and cup a dead wren in my two hands, its body so immaterial, the feathered leavings so light, that when I momentarily close my eyes, it will feel as if there’s nothing there.

about the author
MJ White’s poetry has appeared in The Dayton Daily News, Nexus, Fogdog, The English Journal and the Main Street Rag, in the online journal Persimmon Tree, as well as on Border’s Open-Door Poetry website. Some of my poems have also been read on public radio station WYSO, on Conrad’s Corner.

My poems have been winners in four Dayton Daily News poetry contests and also in the 2002 Dayton/Montgomery and 2008 Clark County Library poetry contests. My poem, “Sleep at Sixty,” was awarded the 2006 Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry Prize by poet and judge Jody Rambo. Another, “On Hawkins Road,” was chosen by Billy Collins as the adult winner of Borders’ 2008 national online poetry contest. A second poem was a finalist in that same contest.

This year, I was the first place recipient of the Judson Jerome Poetry Award from Antioch Writers’ Workshop, where I heard your editors speak about Mock Turtle Zine.

More Than a Massage

More Than a Massage:
The Healing Touch of Mary Ann Townsend

Tara Pettit

It’s the 1970s—a time period in which strict limitations and expectations for the “new, professional, working woman” are still in place. Radical was a mother working full time at the office alongside men, abandoning her domestic duties and child-rearing responsibilities for a life as the household bread-winner. Beyond radical and almost incomprehensible was the rare woman diving head first into a career path of her own, pursuing entrepreneurship and dare say, passion, in a field of practice that was largely undefined and unheard of by majority of the western population.

This is the lifestyle Mary Ann Townsend found herself living during this transitional period in history, passionately pursuing a profession that was not only unfamiliar, but wildly misinterpreted and discounted along with other practices considered fringe at the time. However, what was not and could not be casted into society’s imagined cesspool of illegitimate professions and unsubstantial career explorations during those professionally trying times was Mary Ann’s determination, perseverance and overall vision for an emerging practice that today lends itself to immense credibility, bridging the gap between physical and mental well-being.

Mary Ann became a pioneering female figure in the development of massage therapy as a legitimized, certified field of work from the moment it occurred to her to develop a business utilizing these healing services in the Midwest region. Although at the time the idea of massage as a therapeutic outlet was circulating west coast regions like California, as with many revolutionary ideas and practices, the more conservative Midwest lagged behind in the implementation of such novel notions, leaving it up to some of the boldest to familiarize these areas with new streams of thought. So it was with the idea of “massage,” a term that was typically associated with “massage parlors,” or prostitution, and a concept that was hard for the average person at the time to link to medicine, health or therapy.

“Being part of such a revolutionary time for massage has been exciting and very educational,” she says.

Mary Ann did not always know she wanted to be a massage therapist, but she did always know she wanted to work with people. This led her into her initial career as a social worker after she received a degree in social work from Antioch College in Yellow Springs. However, as a rehabilitation counselor, she felt “boxed in” with the old style medical model that was used in the field and realized she could better apply the skills she had developed from her college studies to pursue her interest in more well-rounded and expansive ideas regarding human health.

After connecting with a college friend who shared the same passion for massage therapy, and then continuing on to become certified in the practice, Mary Ann’s vision for establishing a massage therapy business met reality. However, the road to success was trying and the battle to obtain credibility and respect was long and painful. Likewise, because it was not an established profession, materials and necessary facility amendments were hard to find.

“We had to make most of our own equipment, including massage tables and oils. I also had to design and create the layout of the building and after six months we were able to open it to the public. We were literally the first business of this type.”

Once the business was in operation, Mary Ann and her partner quickly realized that massage therapy didn’t even have listings in the business yellow pages. This changed, however, when the owner of the local Yellow Pages became a client of Mary Ann’s and worked with her to create the very first Yellow Page listing for massage, one of the many “firsts” Mary Ann brought to the evolution of professional massaging.

While an official Yellow Page listing evoked a sense of establishment and progress for the business, it actually created whole new obstacles for Mary Ann and her partner to overcome regarding legitimacy and clientele expectations.

“It was a struggle working with male clients who had not transitioned to the understanding that we were not a ‘massage parlor,’ no matter how many ways you told them. You can imagine the kind of calls we received because of this transition that had not happened in people’s minds.”

Furthermore, the idea of massage as a tool for mind-body healing was largely discounted by the general public and became a road block against the overall vision Mary Ann had for her business, which emphasized the connection between our mental and physical state. The ideas were apart of unexplored territory at that time in the medical community, which made it that much more difficult to effectively market such holistic concepts in mainstream culture. Nevertheless, Mary Ann forged ahead, working with her struggles rather than against them in order to learn new strategies to overcome—a mechanism that drove her to achieve and which she had adapted from earlier life experience.

“I had several tragedies in my family that really fueled me to do something creative and pioneering.”

Mary Ann’s business gained even more clientele through repeat referral as her healing methods, combining therapeutic bodywork and mind work, were discovered to be truly effective and even life changing for many of her customers. Mary Ann can attest to the power that her healing touch has had on countless people suffering physical ailments that, through her careful exploration of tensed muscle and bound body tissue reveal deeper internal issues.

“I had come from a family that was not ‘touchy, feely,’ so this was really an opening in my life to have this kind of contact with people and feeling totally comfortable. I became more confident in my skills and the emotional intimacy that can occur as you get to know people and their bodies is pretty connective.”

After 32 years, Mary Ann has become renowned in her profession and has massaged countless bodies, including stars like Frank Sinatra and M.C. Hammer. She has undoubtedly left a legacy in the massage therapy profession, but even more importantly to her, in the lives of some of her closest clients.

“I have met so many wonderful people. Being able to sit at the bedside of dying patients and having that intimacy with them has been very special.”

For Mary Ann, her work has been infinitely more than working out the back kinks. Mary Ann’s massages are about bringing your whole self to the table—physical, mental and emotional- and allowing all three parts, which are naturally connected, to be worked out, kneaded out, by the hands and ears of another human being. She treats each person individually and specifically to their needs, while never valuing one over another.

“I have realized over time that no matter where you travel or who you come into contact with, people basically want the same things in life. I have heard all types of people’s stories and learned about their lives just through conversation and bodywork.”

Humbly, Mary Ann has spent her life, her career, in dedication and service to others. She acknowledges she is fortunate that her passions and interests have aligned with what she has felt called to pursue as her life’s work and that she has been able to utilize struggles she has faced in her life to transform her into the person, the masseuse, she is today.

“I have morphed qualities of myself into something productive and have learned about myself through learning about other people, entering challenging relationships and through the nature of my bodywork. It’s helped me to have faith, live in the moment and pursue mindful living.”

about the author
After fleeing her birthplace of Brookville, Ohio, to immerse herself in the progressive culture of Athens, Ohio, Tara Pettit pursued journalism at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism. She broke free from her hometown mold by becoming an impassioned cultural observer and writer. Tara found herself drawn to environmental and social justice reporting and has written for various publications, including the InterActivist, Athens Messenger, Collective for Women, Southeast Ohio, and BookPage. She considers herself a sort of “ramblin’ woman” who dabbles in many different activities and projects, which often lead her to her next literary idea. Currently, Tara is a writing partner with the United Nations, and has been devoting many of her freelance writing projects to her interests in Ayurveda, nature and social justice.

Advice to the Lovelorn

Advice to the Lovelorn
Mary Jo White

In Budapest, surgeons operated on a printer’s assistant, Gyoergyi Szabo, 17, who brooding over the loss of a sweetheart, had set her name in type and swallowed the type.

—Time, 28 December 1936

each letter one small
bitter pill after another until
like her they are gone yet
like her within him still
a leaden weight beneath his heart

*

better to throw them off
the nearest bridge into the river
linked letters coming apart
as they strike moving water
the Danube taking them into
her inky current learning to use them
tumbling a drowned alphabet
to make new words among them
perhaps viszlatviszlatgoodbye

about the author
MJ White’s poetry has appeared in The Dayton Daily News, Nexus, Fogdog, The English Journal and the Main Street Rag, in the online journal Persimmon Tree, as well as on Border’s Open-Door Poetry website. Some of my poems have also been read on public radio station WYSO, on Conrad’s Corner.

My poems have been winners in four Dayton Daily News poetry contests and also in the 2002 Dayton/Montgomery and 2008 Clark County Library poetry contests. My poem, “Sleep at Sixty,” was awarded the 2006 Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry Prize by poet and judge Jody Rambo. Another, “On Hawkins Road,” was chosen by Billy Collins as the adult winner of Borders’ 2008 national online poetry contest. A second poem was a finalist in that same contest.

This year, I was the first place recipient of the Judson Jerome Poetry Award from Antioch Writers’ Workshop, where I heard your editors speak about Mock Turtle Zine.

Wind Story

Wind Story
Elizabeth Schmidt

I see the wind
through a gap in the blinds,
it flickers when leaves displace light.
A jet flies low, I think
but it’s the wind, a night ocean
coming in waves.

This morning I woke to soft rain.
You warmed the bed, my back,
my side, and I was a fat rosebush
pink in the summer.
Tonight the wind shrieks
through the trees and shakes its ugly
bones outside the window.

I try to ignore it.
We are, after all, civilized:
bricks and lights, refrigerators and the like,
you know what I mean.
I mean we wear shorts in the winter,
and Doppler radar is on our side.

On the other hand, I’m shivering—
Come into this cave and hold me
until the storm is gone.

about the author
Elizabeth Cantonwine Schmidt lives and writes in Kettering, Ohio. Her poetry has been published in Flights, and featured on WYSO’s poetry program, Conrad’s Corner. She is married with four children, and works as a Librarian at Wright Memorial Public Library.

The Hospital Chaplain Nears the End of His Career

The Hospital Chaplain Nears the End of His Career
Len Byers

I scarcely Facebook
never Tweet barely Linkedin
a throwback.

36 years on the job ended yesterday
37 years started today
with prayers for a family having to let go
for a troubled soul fearing the touch of evil spirits
in her neck and groin
just another blessed day

but I am blessed to have taken this path
to have been allowed to remain here
despite all the personal ups and downs
I will be here four more I hope
to make the biblical 40 number
that has some mystery
that seems cool to me

I do want to chase trains
run model trains
spend time with grandchildren
but I do enough of all that
and still get to do this

it is a wow as they say these days
life is good, one stent in heart
hopefully heart is okay,
holding back the vagaries of diabetes
think medicine and lots of
make-me-sore exercise are keeping
me in the game

Lord willing and the creek don’t rise
I will be here a while yet.
I am kind of afraid of that first day I don’t go in
any morning now
I would rather sleep than get up and go
but I know when there is no going in
I will wake up
at the crack of dawn

about the author
Len Byers is a spiritual soul helping others in a hospital setting. He sees poetry
in the lives around him.

Red Giants

Red Giants
Marc Mannheimer

thought it would be a cool idea
to draw her
asleep
in her bed
after the stroke

this soon turned into—
an unflattering portrait of my mother

I finished it
before throwing it out,
the wispy, white and charcoal gray hair
the narrow nose
with the long nostrils
drawn in red ink,
the only kind of pen
the nurse had

and what I found here
were memories—
of the things we had done
the ways she cared for me
how we played our game
together

the whole time
never realizing
we were actually stars, red giants
from a universe nested in this one

solar best friends, asleep
dreaming ourselves
mother and son

about the author
I have been writing seriously for about eight years, mostly poetry, but also some short fiction, non-fiction and lyrics. My first chapbook if the moon was right was recently published by Writing Knights Press. I have had poetry and short stories printed online at Troubadour 21, and have published poetry at Messy Magazine. I have also appeared in three Cleveland anthologies.

Do You Know Any Blues?

Do You Know Any Blues?
Jane Kretschmann

Do you know any blues?
the woman asks, tending
bar in the nearly empty
restaurant. At first I think
she means songs, taking me
for the torch singer I always
wanted to be. Or maybe
she is seeking some advice
about how to deal with
a bit of winter depression,
preferring to ask a stranger
rather than confide in a friend.

You look kind of like a Sally Blue
who owns a store here,
she continues, helping me out.
No, I don’t know Sally
or her Blue relatives.  But if
the bartender wants to know
about debts, disappointments,
missed opportunities,
low down men, and
the fear of growing old
alone, she had best pour
a double for both of us.

about the author
Jane K. Kretschmann is a happily retired English professor who owes much of her poetry success to her friend and first poetry teacher, Cathy Essinger, and to Foothills Publishing, which published her chapbook, Imagining a Life.

Science of Wasted Motion

Science of Wasted Motion
The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong
Marietta Ball

Matthew Stewart has written a book
debunking Scientific Management.
Now, a century after the heyday of the
movement, universities are stuck with
programs pumping out consultants
who have no workers to manage,
no businesses with which to consult.

Poets have always been left alone to
stutter their labored syllables unclocked.
Efficiency mavens never found poetry worth
the bother of a time study. No expert ever tried
to increase the amount of rhymes per minute
or figure the ratio of scratched-out words
to published lines per year.

Stewart presents evidence of skewed
data, fudged figures, and lies,
adversity that poets can turn, unhurried,
into statements born of investigation into
mankind’s tendency to push and pull.

Perhaps poets can teach these
unemployed efficiency experts how
to exchange dilemma for affirmation of
human capability apart from measured output,
apart from science of wasted motion
which, it now seems, was not as wasted as
the charts once indicated.

about the author
Marietta Ball lives in Xenia, Ohio. Her poems and short stories have appeared in The Journal of Kentucky Studies, Calliope, The Dayton Daily News, M Magazine and other publications, and her poems have been featured on WYSO’s Conrad’s Corner. Her novel, Horses Can See in the Dark, is available on Amazon and Kindle.

Vigil

Vigil
Nicole Rahe

we don’t sit shiva
only after death
eating cold cuts
off plastic trays
spooning out
potato salad

we gather
as months lean forward
family   friends
creep in the door
some leave at dusk
to come back the next day
some make excuses
for dropping by
others endlessly say
they will come
but never do

we smoke on the patio
even those who don’t
chat aimlessly
laugh too often
and too loudly
one or two wander
into that room
to sit quietly
to talk a bit
to be there
while he is resting
others never pass
that space
that living room turned
dying room
hospital bed and machinery

we enjoy the time
though pleasure it’s not
these stolen hours
before death joins the party

about the author
Nicole Rahe is a native of Cincinnati and a member of the Greater Cincinnati Writer’s League. She works on perfecting her poetry in between raising three children with her unendingly supportive husband. She also credits a Chicken and a Unicorn for her continued endeavors in the writing world.

When You Think of a Distant War

When You Think of a Distant War
Noah Falck

Blonde and brunette make up the seasons. The religions take up all remaining regions and I clap my hands when the war lights dim. The way we love each other is the way we hate and to the last days of breathing all the soldiers go. Kiss the letters you send your sweetheart, the stamps pretty with peaceful images and later open the books that read like traffic. Let the field of your thoughts strand themselves with silence.

about the author
Noah Falck is the author of Snowmen Losing Weight (BatCat Press, 2012). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Forklift Ohio, La Petite, Barn Owl Review, Fact-Simile, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. He works as Education Director at Just Buffalo Literary Center in Buffalo, New York.

Unexplored Country

Unexplored Country
Ed Davis

G. C. Murphy’s toy department stretched down two long aisles. Bikes, Barbies and bows and arrows; jacks, jump ropes and etch-a-sketches; six-shooters, Bowie knives and Winchesters; lugers and bazookas; scooters and skates galore. That day, for some reason, I ignored them all.

A confirmed cowboys-and-Indians kind of eleven-year-old boy, I have no idea why I wound up staring at model cars. I’d never built one, probably didn’t even know anyone who built them. Surely, I sensed it would test me—and I’d get no help. Did some part of me realize building models was a bonding ritual between fathers and sons, that maybe I was trying to get my dad back?  Did I think that, as soon as I gave up, he’d dash in, his taxi double-parked outside, wearing his maroon corduroy sports coat, his sleek hair Elvised back on his high forehead, mock-punch me on the chin, laugh and assemble it for me while I watched those long, yellowed fingers that manipulated steering wheel, cigarette and coffee cup so skillfully?

Not consciously. The year before, on Christmas Eve, my father got out of jail.  Arrested a few months earlier for non-support, he had been released early because his wife, my mother, had signed some papers my grandparents would not have approved.  Then, while Mom flounced through the apartment singing “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” with Brenda Lee on the radio, I waited nervously, wondering which dad would appear: the happy guy smelling like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Aqua Velva who called me “Butch” and covered me with wet kisses; or the mean hillbilly who’d slapped my mom while I begged him to stop?

Neither one showed up, and while Mom had cried almost every day since, I made twice-or-thrice-daily pilgrimages to the local eateries for the greasy hamburgers, Twinkies, Lucky Strikes and Reece cups that took her mind off her absent husband. Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn did it for me. And the occasional gift to myself.

I knew “normal” kids didn’t buy their own Christmas presents, that parents were supposed to know what the kid wanted and get it for him. But my mom and dad never knew. When they had gotten me something, it was always wrong:  cowboy boots so tight they raised blisters in minutes, Davy Crockett buckskins big enough for a kid twice my size, gun-holsters so gaudy they glittered. That’s why I was standing here in the model department looking for something really special to make up for not getting what I’d wanted the day before.

The model department? What the heck was I thinking as I stood there scanning boxes with glossy drawings of biplanes, Hollywood monsters and aircraft carriers?  Who was I trying to impress when I finally chose last year’s classic Stingray? My best friend Pete played with toy soldiers, like me.  Mom shared my comic books, but that’s all.  I must’ve known I was on my own in this unexplored country of classic model cars.

I trudged those long blocks home dreading to confess I’d blown my Christmas bucks on a boondoggle: an impossible puzzle. My heart no doubt froze when I pulled from the box an instruction sheet that was all diagrams, no words. I had five bucks and a ton of desire riding on success (more than I knew or could say) and now it all depended on numbers and drawings, not even a voice on paper to coach me, a kid already dependent on language to survive.

I set to work, spreading trees of tiny plastic parts on the floor of my room. I got down on my knees in the lamp’s glow, five hundred percent focused, trying to make myself worthy of the parent who wasn’t there and ignoring the one who was, as she smoked and sang with Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash in the kitchen. Did I think that, if I solved the puzzle, I was going to provide Dad the very vehicle to get him home, for how could he fail to appear, to say how proud he was his Butch had built the world’s toughest model on his first try?

After two days of non-stop labor, I took the completed Corvette into the kitchen for Mom to admire. Propping up the hood to reveal the gleaming fake-chrome engine, I was boy-proud, son-proud. And my mom, bless her heart, bragged and bragged on me. I wanted her praise to give me back Christmas.  But the light that shone so brightly after her first words quickly dimmed. My eyes burned; the image’s edges seared like an old photo thrown into the fire. My mother’s praise was not enough, not even close. I needed my dad’s; I wanted him to lower himself to eye level with my accomplishment, lift the hood with one black-nailed finger, say something about eight-bangers, torque and pistons; zero to eighty in eight seconds; holding ‘er in the road; getting kicks on Route 66; white-line fever, six days on the road . . . car-talk, man-to-boy talk, contact.

Forty years later, I know I needed a language I would never find in books, no matter how many I read. Now I’ve written my own stories, in which fathers sometimes speak. They curse, fight and joke; some are good, some vicious, some sad, some broken. I hope they’re all real. Though I’ve tried to make my father speak to me, he never has, not really.  So I speak to him, tell him the story of how I grew up without him, half-joking that I “raised” my mom. Yes, I’ve always known he couldn’t stay—things would’ve probably been worse, not better. I’ve faced the fact I was a mama’s boy through and through, an Eddie, not a Butch.

But what if he had shown up and we had taken off in his car—not a ‘Vette, but a Chevy, a Ford, a Dodge—and we’d driven across America, gotten to know each other in close quarters? I would’ve told him everything—about homeless Huck, wise Jim and foolish Tom; about Gunsmoke and Wagon Train; about Mom crying in the dark and me wanting her to stop. Elbow propped on the open window, wind riffling his greased pompadour, a Lucky dangling from his thin lips, he would’ve listened, I know he would’ve, as we tooled down the highway, exploring new country together at seventy-five miles an hour.

about the author
West Virginia native Ed Davis recently retired from teaching writing full time at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. He has also taught both fiction and poetry at the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, and is the author of the novels I Was So Much Older Then (Disc-Us Books, 2001) and The Measure of Everything (Plain View Press, 2005); four poetry chapbooks, including, most recently, Healing Arts (Pudding House, 2005); and many published stories and poems in anthologies and journals. His unpublished novel Running from Mercy, won the 2010 Hackney Award for the novel, and his poem “Uncle Frank and the Boy” won “Best of Show” in the 2011 poetry contest co-sponsored by Mock Turtle Zine and Antioch Writers’ Workshop. He lives with his wife and cats in the village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he writes, bikes, hikes and blogs on literary topics. Please visit him at http://www.davised.com.

Resubmitting

Resubmitting
Sara Bickley

The gum-flaps taste of dust
on all my envelopes.
I’ll lick them if I must.

My laziness and lust
have mooned my horoscopes.
The gum flaps: “Taste of dust.”

I dare not feel disgust
for over-sugared hopes.
I’ll lick them if I must!

My plans are pocked with rust.
My tongue, nostalgic, gropes
the gum-flaps’ taste of dust.

There’s no more time to trust
the magazines’ codpopes:
I’ll lick ’em — if I must.

It’s publish now or bust,
for I am on the ropes.
The gum-flaps taste of dust.
I’ll lick them if I must.

about the author
Sara Bickley is a poet (you may have seen her work in Every Day Poets or Lucid Rhythms) and part-time newspaper carrier (you may have seen her work in Oakwood or Kettering).

Lily

Lily
Sara Bickley

I toil not, neither do I spin,
but sunsoak hour on hour.
No one would mind if I were in
the least bit like a flower.

about the author
Sara Bickley is a poet (you may have seen her work in Every Day Poets or Lucid Rhythms) and part-time newspaper carrier (you may have seen her work in Oakwood or Kettering).

Upon Not Yet Being Diagnosed

Upon Not Yet Being Diagnosed
Heather Martin

Maybe I’d say things like, “I have it. It doesn’t have me!”
Maybe I’d make inappropriate jokes about it on Facebook.
Maybe there’d be a 5K, and I’d get a T-shirt.
Or maybe I’d meditate—I’ve heard people do that.

Maybe I’d write more poems,
start cursing at old people,
hop a Greyhound to Taos to join an artist colony.
Maybe I’d start eating sugar wafers for breakfast,
because why the hell not?
Maybe I’d watch my diet or join a support group
and realize how good I have it.

Maybe I’d find God.

Maybe I’d finish Anna Karenina,
start buying premium gasoline,
learn how to grow roses for cryin’ out loud,
tilt at windmills,
pore over holistic healing books
and find some mixture that worked for the Indians.

Maybe I’d throw a glass at the wall
just so the shatter
would ring in my ears.

Maybe I’d walk the street in the middle of February
at 3 a.m. without shoes
to let the snow bite at my feet
and whiteout my mind.

Maybe I’d curl into the small of your back
and sob until I couldn’t breathe
and then you would turn
and pull me in until I exhaled it for the universe to sort out.

Because otherwise it would suffocate the space
I need to manage the maybes.

about the author
Heather Martin is the editorial director for Innovative InterChange, an organizational development consulting company. In her spare time, she noodles around making poems, Scrabble tile necklace pendants, and blank books bound by old album covers.