Issue 12 Table of Contents

Cover Art

Untitled, Ron Rollins

Special Feature Section: Homefull

About Homefull and Photography from Homefull
Left Behind, Anonymous
Not a Victim Anymore, Michele L. Britton
Dad, Joel Benge
A Place, Anonymous
Story, Roy
Lonely, Melissa YaQueen
Jeanne, Joel Benge

Poetry

Bridge Over Tranquil Waters, Bradley K Meyer
Lost Pepper, Eric Blanchard
Haunted Oak in Winter, Furaha Henry-Jones
Box, Ron Rollins
Coney Island Whitefish, David Lee Garrison
Haskell: Race War, Ed Davis
Haskell: Truth’s Tender Art, Ed Davis
November Pines, Joan Harris
Word Play, Breanna McGowan
Beekeeper, Maya Smith-Custer
Fifteen Septembers, Christy Lynne Trotter
The Roots of Evil, Eric Blanchard
Guided by Voices, T.J. McGuire
Our Mother, the Internet, Tess Brewer
Ash Trees, Ashley Bunton

Photography

Bird of Paradise, Donita S. Thompson
Dawn Reflection, Shulamit K. Adler, Ph.D.

Bird of Paradise

bw bird

digital photography

about the artist
Donita S. Thompson is living out her dream in the same town where she was born, Springfield, Ohio. She earns an income on the front lines in child welfare but the real work is in parenting her five-year-old, who happens to be an amazing story teller. In addition to traveling and writing, she also finds pleasure in being the caregiver of a one-year-old Molly fish and two snails.

Bridge Over Tranquil Waters

Strolling along Antietam creek,
I encountered two women
Civil War re-enactors

one grey, one blue,
both with Sharps muskets;
they fiddled with their muskets,
giggling.

I did not acknowledge them
as I passed.

I heard one say,
“He didn’t want anything
to do with us! Haha!”

& she was right.

I strolled leisurely over
the Lower Bridge—
back & forth from one
side to the other without effort.

This, the self-same bridge
Burnside’d finally needed
so many lives to take—
& even then,
was not allowed
to keep.

I thought about that
as I strolled back &
forth across the
bridge, listening
to the giggling of women
like the
            chirping
                        of birds.

about the author
Bradley K Meyer writes from Dayton, Ohio. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in decomP, DASH, Rougarou, Rust + Moth, After the Pause & others. He is the author of a chapbook, Hotel Room (Vostok East Press, 2013). He edits Pouch Magazine, which lives at www.pouchmag.com.

Lost Pepper

While clawing at the ground,
I think I uncovered history. As others

were digging up bones,
I discovered a miniature bottle

of Tabasco sauce
and a rusty blade.

My brother, the expert, says it’s a piece of crap,
but it cuts. The tiny bottle

makes his mouth water.
He covets the burn—lost pepper, vinegar,

salt in a wound—
sustained in sediment.

I wonder how long it has aged,
savor the burn.

about the author
Eric Blanchard’s poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and reviews, both online and in print, including Autumn Sky Poetry, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Pudding Magazine, Amarillo Bay, and Poetry Quarterly. He currently lives and writes in Dayton, Ohio.

Haunted Oak in Winter

for John Crawford, III

Pray why are you so bare, so bare,
Oh, bough of the old oak-tree;
And why, when I go through the shade you throw,
Runs a shudder over me?
—Paul Laurence Dunbar

I step on shards of acorn shell and pray
my skin hasn’t broken. Squirrels wonder why
I’m naked and ill-prepared while they are
ready. They don’t know about you
or haunted oaks. So
they nest in the nook of my patio roof. I’m bare-
foot and solemnly aware. My so-
le hurts. No, the skin hasn’t broken; I’m bare-

ly breathing these days. Too often I hold my breath. Oh,
sighs escape, a release valve of sorts. The bough
bends as though it has been stripped of
invisible weight. Nature’s the-
atrics begin. Starlings by the thousands weigh the old
branches down. They swarm the oak-tree

only to light again. Overhead a black cloud waving and-
ante, seems never-ending. Why, why
these cycles? Sunlight is a mockery when
the days are so short and the nights so long. I
stand barefoot hoping the cold go-
ads my body to sense something through
these dim days constantly turning toward night. The
winds name our ancestors, the ones who illuminate shade.
But is the calling too late for you
and maybe me? I throw

a glance at the space left by a squirrel who scrambles
to the very end of the strongest branch
then leaps onto my porch gutter.

A shudder runs over me.

about the author
Furaha Henry-Jones is an associate professor of English at Sinclair Community College, where she also serves as director of the Sinclair Writers’ Workshop. Furaha has spent the past 20 years working in public high schools and prisons, GED programs and college composition courses, charter schools for out-of-school youth, and migrant education programs. Her poetry is intended for both written and oral interpretation, and she has presented as a University of Dayton LitFest Keynote Speaker, Herndon Gallery Featured Artist and Dayton Slam Featured Poet. Her latest work has required her to listen more closely to words left by the ancestors, to consider the legacy we are leaving our children, and to grapple with our responsibilities in movements toward change.

about the poem
This poem was written early last winter in memory of John Crawford, III, and is part two of a three-part musical and poetic collaboration with musician G. Scott Jones entitled Boiling Point. The language and sentiment of the poem was also inspired by ancestor Paul Laurence Dunbar, whose poem “The Haunted Oak” speaks to lynching during his time.

Coney Island Whitefish

A sticker on the dispenser
in the truck stop men’s room warns
that abstinence and monogamy
are the only safe roads,
but condoms hitch a ride
wherever they can.

New Yorkers call used rubbers
floating in the Atlantic
“Coney Island Whitefish,”
and the foil they come in
turns up on beaches everywhere
in swirled indentations of sand.

Prophylactics are willing
to protect smugglers
by sliding through tunnels
of the digestive tract
bearing cargoes of cocaine
and other kinds of death.

They sweat and squirm
in wallets, wait patiently
in purses, sleep in sock drawers
and nightstands, always ready
to hold back a life
or save one.

about the author
David Lee Garrison started writing poetry as a sophomore in high school as a way of dealing with adolescent lust and angst. He hasn’t gotten over those feelings, and still writes poems about high school, even though he will be attending his fiftieth reunion in 2013. “My main goal as a poet is to communicate, so my poems are not hard to understand with a first reading. In all of them, however, I try to achieve a depth that invites a second or third reading as well.” David’s book of poems, Playing Bach in the DC Metro (Browser Books Publishing), is now available at Amazon.com.

Haskell: Race War

Filthy, bird-murderin Satanists,
cats wait like bloated bankers
hunkered in the hostas till they perch,
then burst forth like banshees
to lock jaws on poor feathered critters
tryin to survive in a world hostile
to things like angels that fly.

I’s ready for that one-eyed stray tom
blacker’n the bottom of a mine.
I loaded my .22 and swore I’d pour
it to him ‘fore the mornin was out.
Last time I seen him, he had a mouthful
of baby nuthatch, and all I could do was cuss
his kind for killin mine. (No, I don’t belong
to the birds, but I’m their ranger, keepin
the unfledged and fragile out of danger.)

I’s waitin at the winder when
he tried the same deviltry today.
While I took aim, he squinted that one
good eye at me and dared me to try.
(Ha! He had the chances of a fly.)
But then it hit me: a cat for a bird?
Who says which is worth more to the world?
I lowered my gun and the bastard slunk
away grinnin like a gambler with an ace.
I’ll let him live one more day.

about Haskell
Haskell T. Phillips, the subject of my 1987 chapbook Haskell, is a 93-year-old southern West Virginian. Father of thirteen children, innumerable grandchildren and husband to his beloved wife Brownie (deceased), he now lives alone in his own home, making observations about his life, past and present, in the Appalachian dialect that I heard growing up, typified by modes of speech that crossed the ocean with English, Scottish and Irish immigrants—words, phrases and even grammatical constructions which, like many songs and stories, are no longer found in the British Isles but still live in the hills and hollers of Appalachia. To some ears, these locutions will sound odd, even incorrect, but, to me, they’re the sound of home. I thought Haskell was through speaking through me until my friend Dave Garrison suggested I begin listening to him again.

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);The Measure of Everything (Plain View Press, 2005); and The Psalms of Israel Jones (West Virginia University Press 2014), which won the Hackney Award for an unpublished novel in 2010. Many of his stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and journals such as: Evansville Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Appalachian Heritage, For the Road: Short Stories of America’s Highways, Aftermath: Stories of Secrets and Consequences and Wild, Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry. Four poetry chapbooks have been released as well as a full-length collection, Time of the Light (Main Street Rag Press, 2013). He lives with his wife in the village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he bikes, hikes and blogs mainly on literary topics. Please visit him at http://www.davised.com.

Haskell: Truth’s Tender Art

Faces can mean the opposite
of what words say, even though the soul
always tells the body what it knows.
Why don’t the brain just shut up and
let the tongue tell God’s plain truth?
Eli Stambaugh, a man from my youth,
was the only man I ever knew
who told the whole truth all the time.
“Haskell,” he’d say, “you ain’t got the guts
of a worm or you’d git yourself a girlfriend.
You’re so shy, ye must’ve blushed
at your own mommy’s breast!”

I had to deck that rascal more than once;
now I’d give a lot for a friend as blunt.
I know we need Eli’s way with the truth:
tougher’n a dozen ten-penny nails
drove right through your heart:
the real lover’s cruel and tender art.

about Haskell
Haskell T. Phillips, the subject of my 1987 chapbook Haskell, is a 93-year-old southern West Virginian. Father of thirteen children, innumerable grandchildren and husband to his beloved wife Brownie (deceased), he now lives alone in his own home, making observations about his life, past and present, in the Appalachian dialect that I heard growing up, typified by modes of speech that crossed the ocean with English, Scottish and Irish immigrants—words, phrases and even grammatical constructions which, like many songs and stories, are no longer found in the British Isles but still live in the hills and hollers of Appalachia. To some ears, these locutions will sound odd, even incorrect, but, to me, they’re the sound of home. I thought Haskell was through speaking through me until my friend Dave Garrison suggested I begin listening to him again.

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);The Measure of Everything (Plain View Press, 2005); and The Psalms of Israel Jones (West Virginia University Press 2014), which won the Hackney Award for an unpublished novel in 2010. Many of his stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and journals such as: Evansville Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Appalachian Heritage, For the Road: Short Stories of America’s Highways, Aftermath: Stories of Secrets and Consequences and Wild, Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry. Four poetry chapbooks have been released as well as a full-length collection, Time of the Light (Main Street Rag Press, 2013). He lives with his wife in the village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he bikes, hikes and blogs mainly on literary topics. Please visit him at http://www.davised.com.

Special Feature Section: Homefull

This issue features a special selection of submissions, contributed by clients of Homefull.

About Homefull

Homefull has a bold vision of “a community where there is no homelessness” and a mission “to work to end homelessness by providing housing, services, advocacy, and education.”

Homefull provides prevention services and resources to clients in the community who are at risk of losing their current housing; assessment and case management to individuals and families who have entered the homeless shelter system; and on-going, follow-up assistance to clients who move from shelter into their own housing. Homefull also offers workforce development through Homefull Solutions, and training and technical assistance through Homefull Innovations.

How to Help

Originally called “The Other Place,” Homefull has served the Dayton community for nearly 30 years. Visit Homefull at www.homefull.org to learn more about the organization, its programs, and ways to help.

Homefull especially needs household supplies to stock “starter kits” for clients moving into their own housing, furniture and appliances, bus passes, and gas and grocery gift cards.

Left Behind

No mother should be left behind
without her children—
in another country
she was cut off, no interaction

what dishonor it means not having children come

It is also about humanity.
BUT I SEE NO SIGN OF HUMANITY WITH ANYONE.
To have other connections
which is essential in this world

Who understands about all of this
bombarded from all sides
my face hung in shame.
Did anyone stand up for me?

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 4.43.29 PMabout the author
The author has requested to remain anonymous.

Not a Victim Anymore

I object to the idea that I am nothing.

I resent the thought that I am just an object to be used any way you please. I refuse to stand by and let you treat me as if I am the ground you walk on.

And I declare, that you won’t walk on me again.

I will not be deceived by your flattery, and I will not give way to your advances. You will find that I am more than what you see when I loosen the hold you have on me. I will listen to your idle talk no further and rise above what you expect of me. I will admonish the fear of rejection that has tormented me and see that I am worth far more than what you have offered me.

Because I am fragile, you have broken me, but I shall be mended.

I will take back the heart that you stole from me and give it all to the ONE, who made it. You may have had a hold on me, but I am stronger now, and you have to let me go. You may have caused me to suffer but in the end it is you who will suffer the greater, because you will remember me. You have left my heart vacant and empty because of all you took from me but it shall once again be filled.

I will remove myself from your crippling grip and claim victory over you.

I will hold my head up high from this day forward.

I shall not be a victim anymore.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 4.43.29 PMabout the author
Michele L. Britton says she’s just a simple Christian gal who loves to share and write about her Jesus, and is trying to make it on this journey called life!

Story

Thank God For Homefull. Please do not be disturbed. My name is “had it all to nothing at all Roy.” As I share my story of how I became homeless, don’t feel sorry for me. Just be careful yourself, ‘cause choices can make you. They can also break you in an instant.

I had a rough start with both of my parents dying in 1996. I was raised by aunties and uncles with my siblings until I was 16 years old. My brother and I were homeless at that time, so I put my pride in my back pocket and asked an older lady we knew if we could stay with her. We ended up staying there for a long time, until my brother enlisted in the Navy and I went out on my own. There were hard times from teen to adulthood, but for the most part, it was a nice life. Back then, I made my own way.

Picture a fine young man with a good paying job, four beautiful kids, and a beautiful dime piece live-in baby mother. Two nice homes, four bedrooms and two bedrooms, two cars. Yea, what I’m saying is, “Here today, gone tomorrow.” But fear not, when you make God your stronghold in a time of trouble, no one can overcome you.

For me, it happened in 2006. Everything went wrong. Family members were dying, it seemed like every week. I lost my job at General Motors after being there 14 years, since 1992. I had lived my life, handled my business, my kids were grown and in school, but I was catching hell. Before long, my house was gone, my car was gone, and I was out here on my own. I tried staying with friends, but ended up surrounded by people smoking, drinking and getting high.

I headed downtown and went to The Other Place (now Homefull). After two months, I was back in a place of my own. When things went bad three years after that, I ended up back at the shelter on Gettysburg. It took eight months of working with the Homefull staff to get my life right, and I got back into an apartment. My life still is not right, but the Lord is working on me.

Thanks to Homefull and their terrific staff, I’m housed at River Commons.

Thank you, Homefull.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 4.43.29 PMabout the author
The author wishes only to be known as Roy.

Lonely

Perched upon
lonely
high on a hill
surrounded by nothing
weeping
with drops of sorrow dripping through the veins
bleeding self blame
drifting in and out of consciousness
dying alone as the last breaths slowly go heading
into shallooooooooooooow
engulfing the emptiness
fighting to not drift into unknowing
scared standing on the mind cliff looking out to no where
no signs of any other life
as the heart starts to feel cold
darkness becoming bigger almost blinding
thoughts of wanting to live but not feel the pain
so it feels right to drift towards the darkness
warm and weak light as a feather
ramblings of insanity running through like memories
feeling crazy the closer I get to the light gone dark
thinking briefly will the world care that it has lost another soul
dying all alone?

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 4.43.29 PM

about the author
Melissa YaQeen’s inspiration for this piece was from watching those that suffer from depression spiral to and fro and lose more of themselves each time.

 

November Pines

Seven firs gather
around a park bench,
a stand of weary backs
and creaking knees
and aching feet
too hard-nosed to sit.

Branches droop;
boughs hang heavy,
like green icicles
that have beaten
winter’s crystal ones
to the punch.

The pines press on
squaring their shoulders
warding off winds
boarding birds
discharging their duties
refusing respite.

Stoic evergreens
snub both praise and pity
and bid me farewell,
then brood and blather
on which is finer—
sainthood or martyrdom.

about the author
Joan Harris describes herself as an old soul in a young body.  She’s 46, retired, and beginning a second career as a writer. She loves simple pleasures and recently started a personal blog of poetry and stories at JustJoan42.wordpress.com. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with her husband and pets. Her work has appeared previously in Mock Turtle Zine as well as in the Antioch Voice.

Word Play

Incapacitated in relevant times, socially awkward divulging the mind.
Backwards criteria imitating acceptable behavior, relishing in elaborate demise.
Calibrating statistics, looking for a fault in the plan, staying camouflaged,
having sneak attacks on high demand.

Soliciting our moral to please the people, a reflex function the daily ritual.
Picking our flaws, trying to erase imperfections, reversed psychology, on susceptible connections.
Building ourselves up to be one of a kind in a world that’s pushing us down the line.

Hardening a mentality to beat the system, supplementing to fill in the gaps,
staying replenished in the debauchery of tit for tat.
Carbonating our souls the best we can, injecting life through the crack of that can.
Calling on our ancestors to see how it was done, so we may follow in the footsteps of our native tongue.

We see mirages of our future so we instinctively stretch, not grasping what’s right at our fingertips.
Settling into a motionless gig, taking small moments and making them big.
For we hold a place in this world, all on our own.

Making our statement before we are gone.

about the author
Breanna McGowan resides in Bellbrook, Ohio, where she works as a full-time medical assistant and part-time home caregiver. Poetry became an outlet for her about a year ago. It has now become a passion. She performs open mics at The Canal Public House. She continually works on the craft, and loves sharing her work.

Beekeeper

I was in love with a yellow jacket
that polluted my garden.
I was in love with the rush
of seeing you, armed with stingers,
swarming me.
I was hot in the face with hives
matching the pink petals
that stem from your thoughtfulness.
Greener than the prickly envy upon which I lay.

Whisper your wise ways as an uneducated worker bee.
My breaths hurt because I’m allergic.
Making your tongue only meaningful in my imagination.
Your confessions drip like liquid honey on stale bread.
Pollination won’t pay bills.
Your stingers in my swollen skin
buzz redder than the wounds’ bleeding.
You were honey combing through
my hair then your stripes stripped my pride.

Hang over my head as I’m under the sheets
eyelids open on a bugged ceiling that won’t tell what
your bumbling meant.
Your antennae probe at my skin, then at my thoughts,
chasing me when I smell sweetest.
Our nature loving is intoxicated with illusions.
My wings are too weak to fly away from you.
My cinnamon honey is too rich to tell you the amazing
things that I wish to do.

I was in love with fluttering from
a kiss that would never happen.
Instead taillights shrivel
growing dimmer in the narrow distance.

about the author
Maya Smith-Custer loves to travel and has lived in Dayton all of her life. She is a high school junior and varsity athlete year-round. She writes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, and performs spoken word. She studies creative writing at Stivers School for the Arts.

Fifteen Septembers

For the past 15 Septembers
I’ve watched green leaves
fall from my limbs
and turn to dust
as I try not to forget your face
without looking through
pictures tucked away
in clear totes with white lids;
but everything is digital now,
except for your voice,
which moves through my dreams
like the Ivers Johnson bullets
you shot through your heart,
rendering you motionless
as you intended,
shattering broken snippets
of the mold you left me in
that I had to piece back together
so I could watch you
lowered into the ground,
covered with a green satin liner
and Marine insignia silver casket,
wearing the rings
my father wed you in
years before I was ever a glint
in your doe brown eyes;
and soon faded grass turns to snow
to where each passing season
sees me grow strong again
because—it’s taken a while,
this journey of death
you and I have travelled,
and finally, again, I can remember
your long fingernails
combing my hair into braided pigtails
and your easy, breezy laugh,
all the while trying to find my own,
and like my eyes,
I know the green of the grass
will return untouched by digital time.

about the author
Christy Lynne Trotter lives in Huber Heights and grew up in the Dayton area, having obtained a master’s degree in creative writing from Antioch. She has attended the Antioch Writers’ Workshop several times in the last ten years and continues to pursue her passion for writing. This past August, Christy began her third year at Clark State Community College as an adjunct English instructor. Recent works of hers can be seen in Sinclair Community College’s 2015 Flights edition and Issue 11 of Mock Turtle Zine.