Archives For marathonlitreview

In memory of Ivan P.

In the stillness of the cemetery,
I wonder how it is a man will live
for only books, but rarely read them,
books to pile in towers

                                    on counter tops,
tables, floor, towers that could be seen as
art, if we focused on texture, color,

could be taken as virtuous, if we
accepted his belief, that rescuing books
from yard sales, trash bins was a calling.

He planned to build a bookcase,
solid oak, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall,
was constantly filling a notepad

with sketches, plans. When he died
we buried the notepad with him,
added books, but unable to decide,
chose them randomly.

 

Louisa Howerow’s poems have been included in a number of anthologies, most recently in, I Found It at the Movies: An Anthology of Film Poems (Guernica Editions), Imaginarium 3 (and 4): The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (ChiZine Publications), Full, an Anthology of Moon Poems (Two of Cups Press). and River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-First Century (Blue Light Press).

after F. Isabel Campoy

I come from a fledgling suburb
in a state that lost its mind with beauty
but coped by building tract homes and strip malls.

Where I come from, everyone calls out to friends
from patios studded with braziers
across yards littered with bicycles
sandboxes and panting mutts.
Cookouts are a seasonal language
but by summer everyone is fluent
in potato salad.

I come from slopes of purple-flecked bindweed
and drainage ditches where on hot days we scour for crawdads
hiding in the shadows of scraggly Russian olives.
We sneeze until October.

I come from a living room framed
by a jumble of scratchy couches.
The green one hides a sofa bed
because it is good to have space
for visitors.
Relatives arrive
with train cases and presents
speaking Italian loudly.
They do yoga right there in the living room
until we drag them into the kitchen
for honey buns and card games.
They dole out dollar bills from leather coin purses
that look like the money pouches
carried in fairy tales.

Where I come from
we shoot out the back door like cannons
and race to the park.
The hot metal bars of the jungle gym sear our palms
until we give up and run for Icees at the 7-11.
Their domes of cherry sweetness tower over
the curled paper edges of the waxed cups.
In the tinny sunshine
drops of condensation slide between
the cups and our hands, cooling our blisters.
Where I come from we only stop talking
when a frosty gulp
gives us a friendly punch in the throat
to say: You’re all right, kid.

Where I come from, the evenings are perfumed with anise
from steam escaping the pizzelle iron
ciamello baking in the oven.
On the stove salted water simmers a warm welcome
to homemade ravioli
that slide eagerly into its open arms.

Where I come from
bath time is a necessary evil
but we strip and slip into the hot water
anyway. It stings the raw spot
between our toes
where the rubber thongs of flip-flops
are doing their best to toughen us
for the long haul.
There are band-aids and sunburns
in our future, but first
clean jammies
cool sheets
and sweet dreams
of where we’re going.

 

Sandra S. McRae teaches writing at a college near Denver, Colorado. Her prose poetry collection The Magic Rectangle is forthcoming from Folded Word (2017), and her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including DISARM, Glass, Steam Ticket, Poets Against War, MAW, Word Riot, and Pure Francis. She also co-authored the bestselling cookbook Weber’s Big Book of Grilling (Chronicle, 2001). Sandra earned her master’s at the University of Colorado-Boulder and was awarded a Fulbright Grant to Germany. Since she keeps dreaming about the year she studied French literature in Bordeaux, France, she decided to write a memoir about it. She lives in the mountains with her family, their two dogs, and some gentle bears. Visit Sandra at www.WordsRunTogether.com.

Insomnia

Yellow jackets burrow for winter
in the exterior brick that edges
the second story window.
Inside that bedroom with its indistinct
hum, sleep eludes me. Who can say
whether bees, the noise of cars
on a distant highway, or some
machinery of my brain that refuses
to power down at night?

In bed, I lay out extra pillows
in a body’s shape, pretend I feel
flesh instead of feathers, instead
of wings. The rain against the gables
turns to sleet. Determined as they are,
insects and weather always find ways
to breech our most intimate spaces.

 

Werewoman

The dog in the park thinks the copperhead is a toy.
His owner begs the doctor, pleads with God,
but there is nothing to be done.
There’s no future once one has to beg.

Like when you throw me out of your bed again.
What good are tears? Regret, on the other hand,
has palpable effects on the world. The dog-lover
buys a smarter breed, a shorter leash,
petitions city hall for warning signs.

And when I can’t sleep, I prowl.
Nipped by the head of every nail, my bare feet
dull the floor’s finish under the window
when the full moon fails to appear in my sightline

no matter where I stand, no matter how I tilt
my head to get a glimpse toward the east, toward
where I hope you still sleep alone.


When One Door Closes, Another One Opens

is only cliché if you have never lived
in an old farmhouse, if you have never
shut its basement door with a bang and jostled
the entire foundation, jiggling the upstairs
latch loose from its strike and throwing
the front door wide open. It is only cliché
if you have never then had to search under
beds for the feral cat that entered in the time
it took you to mount the stairs, find him
in some dark hiding place, and leave a trail of
treats to coax him back out the front door,
which you slam in annoyance behind him,
shaking the house’s foundation, followed
a few minutes later by the sound of a cat
meowing from the basement. . .

 

Lynn Marie Houston holds a Ph.D. from Arizona State University and is completing an M.F.A at Southern Connecticut State University. Her first collection of poetry, The Clever Dream of Man (Aldrich Press 2015), won the 2016 Connecticut Press Club prize for creative work and went on to take 2nd place in the nationwide competition sponsored by the National Federation of Press Women. Her poems and essays have appeared in journals such as Painted Bride Quarterly, Ocean State Review, Word Riot, Squalorly, and many others. She is the founding editor of Five Oaks Press. For the 2016-2017 academic year, she is serving as poetry editor for the Noctua Review.

Even with a receipt I can’t return
The day bought on a whim—
Careless of time being spent.
Buyer’s remorse wakes
The following day, a hangover
Rising from relentless binge-buying.

“I couldn’t help myself.”
So says contrition laid on
When the mistake’s made
Visible.  The size and color,
All wrong.
Why take it from the rack?

Some days should be left behind
For future clearance sales
That clear the calendar
Of outdated stock.
Now
It’s too late. I bought it,
Brought it home to hang,
A reminder of the tumult
Of time lost in tomorrow.

 

Thomas Sabel teaches writing at IPFW and the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, IN. His works have appeared in Heyday, Nebo, Red Paint Hill Sunday Poems, Marathon Literary Review, Whistling Fire, Tipton Poetry Journal, Riverrun, and others. His mid-grade fantasy, Legends of Luternia: the Prince Decides, has been published by eLectio Press.

Above Albuquerque
wind-still the sky
holds balloons
like lacrima

Below inside
this temporary room
your voice
cuts strings

no longer tied.

 

David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a short story collection progresses. He contributors monthly to; The Review Review and New Pages. His writing has appeared in; Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers, The Great American Lit Mag, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination) , The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites

Note: Apology Accepted was written in response to the image here, created by Tony Curran. 

TonyLachlan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, that’s myself [sic] in outline, hunched over
the screen, black eyemask fashioned from re-
gret and the way that autocorrect’s clumsy
changes explode thoughts like a supernova.

There’s that zany boundary between me and
world: fat snake-line slithering from dessicated
apple. I recall a Portland café, its rows of fated
laptops silently declaring we are all still in Adam.

I feel my insides effervesce, like an advertisement
for an inkjet printer from 2002, or that film script
that causes the culture to escape from the Petrie

dish before Act Two is over. Under the omniscient
gaze of cardboard 3D glasses, the world’s flipped
reality will soda-stream itself (and me) in perpetuity.

 

Lachlan Brown lectures in English literature and Creative Writing at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. He has been shortlisted and commended for the Newcastle Poetry Prize and his first book, Limited Cities, was shortlisted and highly commended for the Mary Gilmore Award. Lachlan’s poems have appeared in journals in Australia and the USA.

Tony Curran has been a 2015 Archibald Prize finalist, a Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship semi-finallist and a semi-finallist in the Doug Moran National portrait prize. He has held various residencies around Australia and lives in Canberra.

Every time I lift the lid
on the bin by the stairs
to the units above,
and upend my basket
of recyclables,
I hear the voice
of my ex-husband’s lover.

At a dinner party,
months before I learned
her real role in our lives,
I turned to her amid
the laughter and the clinking,
and asked if she found
she produced a lot of trash.

Such a strange question,
she must have thought.
No wonder he’s sleeping with me.
But was it so strange?
I threw so much away,
night after night, bag after bag,
despite my efforts to compost,
to reduce, reuse, recycle.
Still so much
bore no little raised triangle;
no arrows chasing
an infinity of tails.

My husband’s lover considered
my question. Trash?
A lot of trash?
She looked up and to the side.
Trash?, she said a third time,
as if stalling, or puzzling out
a mispronounced
word. No, she said, finally.
but a lot of recycling.
So much recycling.

She hunched
just slightly, her shoulders
cupping her heart.
I thought I knew her shame.
I too felt I ought to be reducing
rather than re-using.


Halina Duraj’s
poetry has been published in Bat City Review, Cimarron Review, and the Poets of the American West anthology.

Commandment

On a West Texas highway
between Plainview and Lubbock

white text on a black billboard
proclaims CONTROL YOUR MIND,

OR THE DEVIL WILL!
urging passing drivers

and passengers to exert
self-control, search souls

flee from temptation
banish impure thoughts

refrain from coveting
thy neighbor’s truck

think righteous thoughts
in the service of fear


Exploring the Neighborhood After Ten Days 
Confined at Home Due to Surgery

Three flags fly above the Baptist church
ready for the Fourth of July, the sign
proclaims THIS SUNDAY: PATRIOTIC SERMON

a new girl named Tatiana rings up
my six-pack of IPA, salt and vinegar chips
at Brookshire’s supermarket

my favorite neighbor has swapped
his Land Rover for a Suburban
losing his hint of European cool

three more houses are for sale
or lease and Matt across the street
has just mown and edged his lawn

the woman with pink personalized
license plates proclaiming OIL WFE
is moving out, leaving trash behind

the baseball fields, basketball courts
and playground are all deserted
the kids trapped indoors by heat

Old Ray on Olympic watches the street
on a plastic chair in his open garage
Katie panting faithfully alongside

empty recycling bins lie helpless
on their sides waiting for fathers
to come home and carry them inside

 

Terrero

visit the Terrero General Store
stock up on wood and water

talk with the locals and learn
the history and the terrain

learn the difference between
national forest and wilderness

public lands and private property
land management and land use

when the old white store owner
asks Who was here first? 

and answers his own question
with The homesteaders, of course 

hold your tongue and don’t say
The Native Americans, of course

thank the old man for the stories
the knowledge and the advice

take time to learn some
arguments can’t be won

 

Nathanael O’Reilly was born & raised in Australia; he currently resides in Texas. He is the author of the full-length collection Distance (2014) and the chapbooks Cult (2016), Suburban Exile: American Poems (2011) and Symptoms of Homesickness (2010). He is the recipient of an Emerging Writers Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. Over one hundred of his poems have appeared in journals & anthologies around the world, including Antipodes, Australian Love Poems, Blackmail Press, Cordite, fourW, LiNQ, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Prosopisia, Red River Review, Snorkel, Social Alternatives, Tincture, Transnational Literature, Verity La, Writ Poetry Review and Windmills.

There’s a circle of PETA protesters picketing
my castle because I’ve been squirrelnapping
woodland creatures to teach them how
to vacuum. Somewhere something
is happening, if only I could teach this pumpkin
to drive a stick. If I sleep for a hundred years,
will you kiss me awake? It’s just a short
climb up my hair to the top of my tower,
but I won’t tell if you take the stairs.
These rose vines make me sniffly,
but I’ve got magic in the elastic band
of my shorts. Believe me. I make the best
poison apple pies, a spoonful of sugar
and a dead mother to taste. Don’t listen
to those dwarves with black lung,
the weavers starving in the streets mumbling
about how I burned their spindles,
the man claiming a witch turned him
into a clock and I made him sit on
the microwave and beep when my popcorn’s
done. I don’t even eat popcorn. He knows
that. Take this glass slipper. Put it on
my foot. It will fit. This time, I’m sure of it.

 

CL Bledsoe is the Assistant Editor for The Dead Mule and the author of a dozen books, most recently the novel Man of Clay and the poetry collection Riceland. Originally from a rice farm in eastern Arkansas, Bledsoe now lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Michael Gushue runs the nano-press Beothuk Books and is co-founder of Poetry Mutual/Vrzhu Press. His work appears online and in print, most recently in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the Michigan Quarterly, and Gargoyle. His chapbooks are “Gathering Down Women,” “Conrad,” and “Pachinko Mouth” (from Plan B Press).

is not
what you meant
to say
when you locked
the door
behind you;
you meant
to say wait—
look how
the irises reveal
themselves
in the retreating
light, their
petals glowing in
the morning’s
full flower moon.

 

Matthew W. Schmeer’s work has appeared in Cream City Review, Natural Bridge, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri at St. Louis and is a Professor of English at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.