October issue

Richard Hartwell

Over Easy, Please

_______________________

I’d like my next life over easy and centered, please.
Not sunny-side up, too runny and rheumy with happiness;
Not scrambled, so mixed up even a therapist could not help;
Not soft-boiled, hard-boiled, souffléd, or poached, if you would… read more

Jeff Newberry

The Maker’s Rage to Order

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Everyone knew Benny lied:
wove tales & spun words
like an poet: less lie, more metaphor.
He never got lost on the Apalachicola,
never shot fifteen dove with a single blast,
never drove into Panther Swamp
on his daddy’s ’72 Indian,
& never caught a Mako off Cape San Blas… Read more

April Bacon

Ecology

__________

“What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea, which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever.”
—“This Compost,” Walt Whitman

I peek outside for the last time today and the sunshine blinds me from seeing the wirework of weeds. I pull aside three feet of curtains, so I can see what’s out there. The rank growth coats the dirt below, coats the land of the dead. I couldn’t clear it all away, that mess, if I ever cared to.
The dead land is below my feet too, it’s under my home. Under the asphalt, chipping the paint on the road, stuffed thick around our water pipes, lying on the compost pile, forever laughing, forever growing with bits of our own selves. I couldn’t clear it, and if I tried, parts of me would become it. It all makes me want to spit; the bubbles and boils, the cysts and pimples the earth makes. At some point in life you learn that everything is dirty and dangerous. At another, there’s no way to make it clean… Read more

Bruce Rogers

Sherman County Boys

_______________________

Some boys that Sharon had gone riding with were careful drivers. Randy Watt wasn’t one of them. He liked to drive with just one hand on the wheel, and his steering was a little vague. The truck drifted across the center line now and then, which didn’t matter for the first few miles out of Grass Valley since there was no one else on the road. It bothered her more when they got to the curvy part where the road edge dropped off into the canyon. No guard rails. But he still drove with one hand.

Because she didn’t have a car, boys were the best way for Sharon to get out of the house, away from the museum where, if she lingered on a summer day, her mother or father could always find some chore for her to do. Or, worse, her father might try to get her excited. “Sharon, look here! If somebody were to clean up some of these old switch locks and keys, they might make a nice exhibit.” Fortunately, her little sister had the genes or the virus or whatever it was that made people crazy about steam locomotives. That took some of the pressure off. But still, the best thing was just not to be home… Read more

Jim Ogden

Deep Hunting

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The sun’s rays penetrate through the crystal blue abyss of the South Atlantic Ocean as the motion of the sea gently rocks our group in a rhythm as old as life itself.  Lying here dozing and listening to the sounds of the world that surrounds us, we are resting after a long journey around the Cape of Africa.  We are here in our summer feeding grounds to enjoy the bounty that our world will bestow if it so chooses.  It is a world that is not always as I could wish, but in these last seasons the hunting has been here, and the anticipation of the great harvest to come makes some of us restless.  Once this part of the sea was filled with our cries as we hunted and mated without interference from outsiders.  Our tribe was large and we ranged the oceans of this world unmolested, the true masters of this, the Water Planet.  Now the few survivors try to rebuild our race, once the mightiest toothed mammal on this small and insignificant world.  Our clans were destroyed, and our race brought to the point of extinction to satisfy the greed of the Others.  The Others do not participate in the chain of life here, but simply take from it and return nothing.  Nothing is safe from their mindless greed and the self-satisfaction derived from wanton murder of any living thing that their primitive intellect might find threatening or perhaps useful to them in some way.  Could it be that our ancestors foresaw this happening, and left the land returning to our true home in the sea, forsaking life on the land forever?  Perhaps they foresaw that this evil would grow and one day consume all who live on the land.  We survive for now at the pleasure of these Others and hope for the day that we may once again be a strong force in the life flow of this world… Read more

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