My Strawberry — Kerry Trautman

I pinch
its leaftop like a cinched
umbrella, twist,
it knows just where to give
way. Boiling freezer jam
roiling red on my father’s
stovetop, pink foam floating,
“Don’t touch.”
The berry tastes of
new-mown grass—
clippings cupped
to confetti above my head.
I remember berries
tried to hide beneath
the leaves, taut skin near
rupture, and hearing stormwater
river through pipes
buried below the beds.
I won’t allow the juice
to stain my fingertips. My
berry’s one small bruise creates
the perfect breath of wine.

Onset

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
Best in Show

Nothing happens now.

Youthful and pretty float in a mirage
behind me, playing messages
softly under lace.

Fear outlines my turned-in feet
where I stand for all
or nothing that is left.

Alone stands next to me
in the Metro murmuring French
on a breeze from a train.
I stare into moving.

Dust bunnies litter my sweater.
Leftover warmth follows me on errands.
I walk on broken legs from antique chairs
to the marketplace after dark.

about the author
Over the course of her lifetime, Arnecia Patterson has moved back and forth between dabbling in and studying poetry–its reading, making, and understanding. She grew up in Cincinnati, and came to Dayton to attend college many years ago. Now, she has spent her entire adult life in Dayton, working and living while reading and writing.

Reading Literary Theory and Weeping

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
1st Place, Adult

I hear a train whistle at 3 a.m.
and I’m not wearing overalls,
not singing “I was young when I left home.”
My guitar is near enough
that I could play a blues,
but I’ve neglected my Bible.
I get up from the kitchen table,
pacing where I’ve yet to put a couch.
The Promised Land can’t be Chicago:
I miss my family like a wanderer
even when I’m just ten miles away,
reading ecocriticism.
I know the bane of the caterpillar—
and it’s not a universal experience.
Shakespeare is too worldly for me
because I can’t speak as if I’m steam.
I imagine myself as a prophet,
and so I know coal is a limited resource.
I look for it when there is a new moon,
when I always find less than I need.
Because I have beliefs while there are slums,
I’ll visit my mother only enough
that it seems I’ve seen the future
each time I say I love you.

about the author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Brandon North will be attending the NEOMFA program at Cleveland State beginning August 2015. The generalized desire to escape so commonly felt by Ohioans is transfigured into his poems, which have appeared in previous issues of Mock Turtle Zine.

Lift Equation for Wilbur’s “Flight” Problem

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
2nd Place, Adult

Viagra won’t help.
At one hundred and forty-eight years old,
there are just some activities I used
to enjoy that I can no longer do.
My last time between a pair of wings
was over a century ago.
Safe to say my “flying” days are done.
Though when I was young
and could achieve proper lift,
I was a frequent flyer.
Starting off as a glider,
I was nothing more than a glorified kite,
one without balance or control,
which led to nosedives
due to premature navigation.
But as my flying experience
became more regular,
I was soon a motor-driven flying machine,
learned to shift my body weight for control,
to bank and roll,
account for wingspan, headwind, pressure.
With a steep angle of attack,
I would lower myself into position
through an opening in her wings,
that first Flyer, my first love,
arms wrapped lovingly around her framework
as I propelled myself forward,
and with the right amount of thrust
I would leave the ground—the upsurge
and rush of feeling lighter than air.
My first time lasted only twelve seconds.
But on that particular occasion,
at the height of my first flight
with neither drag nor drift,
I yelled, “L=KSV2CL!”
which is the equation for lift.
One look at me now, and you would hardly believe
that this old man could once get it up.
But as freaky as this sounds,
I have pictures to prove it.
Ask Orville. He was there.

about the author
T. J. McGuire lives in Dayton, Ohio, with his wife and his two daughters. His work can be found in Flights and Mock Turtle Zine.

Bitter Old Leather

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
1st Place, Youth

I am used to old beer-guzzling men
with gunmetal hair beneath veteran caps,
with leather jackets and leathery skin,
and scars and wrinkles somehow defiant.
Openly private, and more likely to share social security numbers than war stories.
These old men, intoxicated and intolerable,
have tattooed their regrets onto their sleeves
and wear their piercings to remind themselves
that no matter how much space they take up,
things can still go through them.
Unapologetic and amused by life,
they shout—
“If I knew then what I know now,
I’d do the same damn thing,
because even after all these years
the sweet is just as potent as the bitter.”
Slow and steady is the beat of the old man heart,
but if you look closely, you can still see
a restless soul pressing behind their eyes.
I am used to old beer-guzzling men
sweaty and tired but not finished
and not afraid.

about the author
Jaylin Paschal is a junior at Northmont High School, where she works on the newspaper and literary and arts magazine. When she’s not writing, she’s reading.

S(i)mile

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
2nd Place, Youth

The shower feels like a babbling brook.
The babbling brook looks like a peaceful meadow.
The peaceful meadow smells like freshly baked cookies.
The batch of freshly baked cookies tastes like a recipe:

Each bite brings you deeper into the experience.

about the author
Tucker Hauff is an eighth-grade student in the Creative Writing magnet at Stivers School for the Arts. He has two younger brothers.

Summer Bycatch

Each day flings out its fishing net
of hours. The blue indigo bunting
sips at the bird bath. His couplets
of rhyme sing over the meadow,
where plains coreopsis self sows
yellow and maroon waving in the wind.

Later, a freckled fawn rests in shade
across from a pool. He licks drips of water
from a filter hose, sniffs the air, rises, then
ambles cautiously closer to my chair. The wild,
scared look in his eyes as he nimbly passes by—
bones protruding under his coat—
the munching sound he makes chewing
leaves. I am still as a statue, barely
breathing. We stare at each other
as if in a trance, neither willing
to let go.

about the author
Anne Randolph’s poems have been published in the journals Plainsongs, The Storyteller, Mad Poet’s Review, The Chaffin Journal, Willow Review and Mock Turtle Zine. Last year, one of her poems won “Best of Show” in the Antioch Writers’ Workshop contest.

Strings

It was you and me, and
Baby Girl makes three.

You moved us to that northeastern shore
in February so you could die.
But dead was already there
in the ripping wind and Baby Girl
was five thousand years beyond five.

How long will we stay, she asked.

You didn’t answer,
so I didn’t answer.

I bought a week’s worth of groceries
at the inland market where
the gas furnace droned and
the cashier’s face said:
I don’t know you.

This off-season tourist town,
she was an aged ingénue
whom we’d caught
barefaced and sober
on a Sunday morning.

about the author
After graduating from Wright State University with a degree in English, Kris Cross began her writing career as a journalist and editor, earning AP awards in writing and design. Currently, she serves as a public relations director in higher education. She and her two children, Cyrus and Harper, live in Greenfield, Ohio.

“Like, You Know”

The day before the end of the world
poets relinquished their words.
Similes had become extinct
when “like” lost its role as go-between
and became a speech impediment.
Metaphors turned in on themselves
in an endless repetition of comparison.
Language was reduced from words
to bits and bytes that informed
but failed to forge connections.
With no means for expressing
the ineffable poets knew
it was only a matter of time
before the earth fell into a void
created by the absence of figures of speech.

about the author
Susan Iwinski has won the Dayton Daily News writing contest, had a short story published in St. Anthony Messenger magazine, and has received lots of honorable mentions (but no cigar). She enjoys meeting with a poetry group at Oakwood library.

Eggs Fried by a Friend’s Father

“No toast,” I said, not too hungry.
“Then what will you dip in your eggs?”

But I could not imagine
any dipping into pale rubber curds.

My plate appeared—
cartoon eyeballs,
oil-painted breasts,
silly rounded contrast
so brazenly biological.

Crisped feather edges still sizzling
their minute buttery brownness
surrounding milky, stilled puddles
with their rain-washed marigolds.

He handed me a triangle of wheat.
I watched him rupture his
globule to glossy ooze,
a droplet dripping on its way to his mouth.

I grimaced, mimicked
the crunch and flow—

sunrise thunder,
a goldfinch flock alighting
backdropped by lightning,
a gold, silk ball-gown washed out to sea.

I tried to douse any chicken-y images,
babies in general,
life as its whole,

allow the fatty velvet draping
my tonsils and tongue to be

only morning’s oiled light.
It would be okay.

about the author
Kerry Trautman lives in Findlay, Ohio, and is a founding member of Toledo’s Almeda St. Poets and the Toledo Poetry Museum. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in various anthologies and journals, including Mock Turtle Zine, The Fourth River, Alimentum, Midwestern Gothic, and Third Wednesday. Her second poetry chapbook, To Have Hoped, was recently published by Finishing Line Press.

Where Air Grows

I carefully uproot prickly thistle,
bedstraw, anonymous weeds from
a bed of leggy iris, lavender and yellow

opening their world to space between
where air grows, where thoughts
become things, ideas, sweat.
Above nodding blossoms, white cotton
café curtains frame another space.
In there, day begins, a plumped pillow

willing to support heavy thoughts
that refract in lead crystal,
small rainbows, tiny prisms

that, unchecked, become tiny prisons.
The key, beside the pillow now
lumpy as pancake batter, is golden.

about the author
Rita Coleman graduated from Wright State University with a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature, concentrating in Creative Writing. She has written one volume of poetry, Mystic Connections, and has written award-winning poems that have appeared in numerous venues. Rita reads her poems on Conrad’s Corner at WYSO-FM 91.3 FM.

Ripped Off

Huck Finn, 2011

Graphite scrapes through it.
A word cut from another world,
dragged from ours, dangling
like a cut of fresh meat strung up
a dirt road, baiting yet another generation
of Crows. No, don’t look at it! Don’t smell it!
You are not allowed to
see it!
read it!
speak of it!

And so today, this tacked-in label itches
against the century-old context—
a washed uniform in a still-filthy war.
A white and western riposte—
privileged reinvention, new construction
over battlefields.

This slave word does not belong here;
it bounces off the magnolias, the sycamores
through the fingers of two spirits
who can now run and play along that Mighty.

But that war has not vanished;
privileged fingers still reach.
They still need to grab hold of it—
chain it—cram it in the white space,
dulling a sharp point—

which in turn, enslaves us all.

about the author
Gina Marie Giardina is a Public Affairs Specialist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and is an adjunct instructor at local colleges. She holds a Master of Arts in English with a specialty in Composition and Rhetoric as well as a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Wright State University. Her academic work has been published in journals out of Boston College and Washington State University, and her creative writing has appeared in Stepping Stones, Flights, The Fogdog Review, and of course, Mock Turtle Zine. In her free time, she enjoys escaping to local places to read or to write, shooting hoops anywhere with a decent basketball net, and playing fetch with her cutie dog, Watson.

Smoke Rings

The sun sets the deepest shade of orange
I’ve ever seen, a shade that captivates the sky
and swallows the clouds—lighting my soul
for yet another spell of darkness

I surrender my fear and wait,
watching for him to come through the door

I know my time is near

Crowded addictions and sins beyond life
have stolen what pride I have left

A wicked wind stirs from the north,
and like an old native myth goes,
death is approaching in the twirling whispers

Echoing from the trees, I can see my time end
in the glossy reflection of my devious eyes

Escape artist I’ve been before, missing death,
and yet, here I am one final time, waiting to see
who will blink first

His arms coil around me
as memories of the good life I never had
flash across my mind in pixel format, Kodak color

I light my final cigarette
and stand bravely in the smoke rings

I look for an exit

but instead
I can only shake his oily hand
as introductions are made.

about the author
Christy Lynne Trotter resides in Huber Heights, and has a master’s degree in creative writing from Antioch. She teaches English as an adjunct at Clark State. Last year, she placed first in the adult category in a Dayton Daily News’ short story contest for her piece “Gramma’s Wringer Warsher.” She also placed first in the adult category of the Dayton Metro Library’s poetry contest for “Champa Romance.” Having a journalism and fiction background, she strives to improve her poetry writing because she finds taking personal things and transforming them into words in such a short amount of space in a way to which others relate to be not only challenging but also rewarding.

Going Home

There is a white-collar cost to remaining
true blue. Outsider status comes with a degree.
You can go home again but there is an overly polite

emphasis on plans to accommodate and I know
I haven’t forgotten how to drive in the snow, but
I am offered the 4×4 like a visitor and my vinaigrette’s

fancy which is to say snobby, and a bit salty, which is to say
salty—not surprising because I am Lot’s wife, nameless
and a warning for those who think they are better: if you are

willing to leave the others behind to burn,
you don’t deserve a return engagement.

about the author
Aimee Noel lives in Dayton, and works as an educator. She tends toward working class poetry, and has been published in journals such as Great Lakes Review,The Greening Review and Slippery Elm, and has been featured on WYSO’s Conrad’s Corner. Proudly, she has volunteered her time for VIDA’s 2014 Count, won OPA’s 2014 William Redding Poetry Prize, and can eat her weight in pierogi.

Gauntlet

You’ll find something endearing
like thumbholes in thermals and the next thing
you know you two are eating burgers
with only mustard and having sex in a public park
and feeling high-school danger after
you get caught by a seventy-year-old cop
who’s so embarrassed that he can’t even look
either one of you in the eye. And you’ll feel
even more high school guilty later that night
when you take a hockey stick
and smash his mailbox and how right before
you swing you see that he has hand-painted what
looks like a falcon in the middle of a family crest.

Years later, after you two destroy and leave
each other, you’ll think of her and that night
and think of Yeats and wonder if he was right
that we’re all falcons with no falconer.
Like a falcon, love is hollow and capricious
and moody. But then you’ll remember
it’s also full of light and ecstasy and blissful risk.

That somehow we know where to go
and when and why. Or else we think we do
and we’ll just end up stupid and fried, caught and caged
by our own inability to see what’s really there.

about the author
Dayton J. Shafer loves the smell of horses and gasoline. He’s also done fancy stuff like interviewing and publishing Guggenheim Fellows. The majority of his post-BFA life has been spent eating tapas, drinking local beer, hiking precarious trails, and writing for local and national publications. He regrets nothing.

Black on Black

Late summer
and I pass black crows
on a black tree branch,
which you might think

depressing, speaking of death,
but these crows are not silent
like death, but raucous,
hopping, flapping, turning

this way and that, as if
in great debate or perhaps even
celebration, or
laughing at the joke.

Later that night,
afternoon crows
still nestle in my brain.

about the author
Kathy B. Austin describes herself as a Buddhist who focuses on both linear and spiritual connectedness. She leads meditations at the Dharma Center of Dayton, and enjoys art collage, talking to crows, and listening to the words of trees. Her poems have been published in numerous journals including Poppy Road Review, Flights, and Mock Turtle Zine, and have also been read on Conrad’s Corner, WYSO 91.3 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and at local gatherings.

A Night in the City

He has an innate fear of commitment
so he doesn’t have any tattoos.
He makes a living just making rent
and keeps back just enough for booze
and the occasional woman;
he lives alone.

In a one bedroom one bathroom apartment,
the kind with stains that run down ripped wallpaper
underneath air vents like open wounds,
with carpets that are still drunk
from years of late-night carelessness
that peel up at the corners
like someone could pick them up
and bag up his entire life in a sack lunch.

He likes wine, he likes Chinese take-out,
he likes when women give him glances
and hates when they expect him
to make the first move, to initiate contact.
He can’t stand to be looked in the eyes
for longer than five seconds, makes him feel
cornered, interrogated, alone in his apartment
eating crab rangoon at 3:26 a.m., watching
re-runs of Threes Company, masturbating
to a young Joyce Dewitt, and he can’t
keep composure and starts to sweat.

He feels 33 years of his life have been wasted,
sucked into the taxpayers’ toilet bowl
and flushed out into the sea. Sometimes,
he considers it. Sometimes, it creeps its way
into the back of his mind like brutal words
from an ex-wife he’ll never fall out of love with:

Just do it.

Can’t, won’t, doesn’t have it in him,
the spine the balls or anyone
to read the letter.

4 a.m.

Work in six hours. It’s hard
to turn off the t.v., to go to sleep,
to let go, to shut off

but he just does it.

about the author
Ridge C. Higgins is a local Dayton musician, poet and writer with experience in various music festivals and slam poetry events in and around the Dayton area.

Strobe Light Storm

A gray horizon met my sleepy eyes
as I let the dog out
smells like rain, I thought

She was back in a minute
the sky had grown three shades darker
angry clouds pushing and shoving in the wind

The other dog demanded his turn
the atmosphere now roiling, the air electric
he hesitated, then made his move

Hovering in mid-squat when the rain came
no warning sprinkles
a vertical deluge, like a beaded curtain

He hastily concluded his business
eschewing my towel and shaking water
everywhere before tucking himself back into bed

I gave him a pat and went to put on the kettle
The storm had passed, the day brightened before me

Spring in Ohio, I thought. And smiled.

about the author
Joan Harris lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with her husband, two dogs and cat. Recently, she retired after 24 years of nursing in the Air Force and civil service at Wright-Patterson. Currently, she is taking courses in creative writing and poetry, and is excited to be attending the Antioch Writers’ Workshop this summer.

Key West

The clucking locals rise early
and strut freely down the empty,
hung-over streets. A line of
Ernest Hemingway impersonators
gather on Duval, to watch the
shapely barista Svetlana
manhandle the steam machine.
Her dagger-like pink fingernails
scrape Ernest’s open palm,
giving him only a penny.
Sipping his Cuban coffee,
Ernest spots a woman with six
fingers, carrying a brown paper bag.
He follows her into the warm
gulf waters, disappearing
together among the mangroves.

about the author
Meredith Henrich lives in Dayton, and enjoys writing about the people, places and things she encounters during her travels. Her poetry has been read on WYSO’s Conrad’s Corner, and has also found its way into Mock Turtle Zine.

(I Swear I Mean It This Time)

It’s snowing and
the air smells like snowflakes
and innocence and the sky is clear
and the stars are pinpricks of hope
in a midnight sea of contentment

and for the first time
(I swear I mean it this time)
I feel alive.

I know I am made of meltdowns
and epiphanies the way most people
are made of carbon and oxygen,
and I know that I will say the same thing in a month,
and I know that all of human existence,
let alone human emotion,
is barely a blink in the eye of the universe,

but in this moment, it’s snowing
and it smells like innocence
and I feel alive.

about the author
Megan Smith is a college junior at Ohio University, a Disney enthusiast, an introverted leader, a morbid daydreamer, an ice cream addict, the world’s worst cover hog, and a writer.