August Issue- Week 2

August 6, 2012

Landscapes

Never did I dare to dream of deserts,
how they, too, collect things
and arrange them into collages:
Red pebbles mistaken for grass,
cacti growing in hardened earth
not on big box store shelves,
brazen palms touching the sky
without a sea in sight,

and trees I could never name
more glorious than magnolia and pine
who dare to show winter what it means
to be alive.

Telly McGaha is a native Kentuckian who fell in love with the Southwest after visiting Texas and Arizona. His work has appeared in Assaracus, Vox Poetica, Referential Magazine, and Vwa: Poems for Ayiti. His flash fiction, Patches, was the 2008 Hayward Fault Line Competition winner and appeared in Doorknobs & Body Paint.

***

Picket

He saw someone
do this in a movie. Wants
to try. She obliges.
Saddle shifts to the left
when he pulls
himself up onto the horse.
She hands him his guitar.
He strums,
looking intently at the strings,
pudgy fingers lost
in them. She stays
on the ground. Even the horse
seems confused, reins
draped at his sides.
Lowers his neck to graze.

She gave
him what he wanted.
All he sees
is the old, plain
guitar he doesn’t know
how to play.
It’s like she’s not there anymore.

She walks to the barn,
climbs to the hay bale closest
to the rafters,
her hair just below
spider webs, ideas weaving
in her head.
He’s not there anymore.
There are horses, acres
of lush, green pastures, picket
fences to keep crazy men out.

Dawn Schout’s poetry has appeared in more than two dozen publications, including *Fogged Clarity*, *Glass: A Journal of Poetry*, *Muscle & Blood Literary Journal*, *Pemmican*, *Poetry Quarterly*, *Red River Review*, and *Tipton Poetry Journal*. She won the B.J. Rolfzen Memorial Dylan Days Writing Contest, the Lucidity Poetry Journal Contest, and the Academy of American Poets’ Free Verse Project. She lives near Lake Michigan.

John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had a byline (for brief, humorous items) in over one-hundred different newspapers and magazines. Once upon a time he had light verse published in Grit, Hoofs and Horns, Light, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. His cartoons have appeared in Bowhunter and Farm Antiques News (no longer published).

WORDS SPOKEN BY SPOKANE GARRY
AT THE DEDICATION OF HIS MONUMENT
SPOKANE, WA August 25, 2011

Proud am I that you
Children of my children
Stand here today honoring
Our stiff necked resolution
To fancy dance and wail to pounding drums
Carry our feathers and totems
Against the white fangs of Mickey Mouse and Barbie.
You have not forgotten bones of our ancestors
Line trails from the northwest.
Buffalo soldiers following yellow haired men with shoulder straps
Hanged a few of our braves
Who died like warriors – slaughtered our horses
These slaps were nothing
To crude tribes of peasants fiercely fleeing
Dandy dukes and counts and princes
To ravage and reshape our mother
Dam up her rivers withhold the red ocean fish
And turn the canyon where I died into 18 smooth grassy stretches for a German farmer’s son
To chase a hard white rubber ball
In a put put cart
Smiling whiskey on his breath.
May this construct of basalt pillars and metal work magic medicine
Reserve our dry ground
Cold swift rivers so we may
Breath cool mountain air
Over tongues speaking Salish words that
Ancestors entrusted to us.

Tyson West is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts.  He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian.  One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country.  There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

June 2012- Week 4

June 25, 2012

Steve Cartwright “It’s well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so I’m typing this with one hand while pummeling my head with a frozen mackerel with the other. I’ve done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling – but mostly drooling – on tavern napkins.” He has also created art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. I was awarded the 2004 James Award for my cover art for Champagne Shivers. I recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: _www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright_

TO MARILYN MATTHEWS

(1943–1991)

your father had given you the blood and last name of
Thomas More and your mother what had taken a breast
from you and hidden with it but you were not remiss
trying meditation and catholicism and
sweat lodge anything to wash you rid of it that you
not have to have a next appointment
             you were only
coming a bit weakened out of the last when we met
and I from a night of my own we both emergent
into entire day on the plateau
             I wanting
fire time in the high desert had taken to trails
had joined and begun to love a shadowy woman
friend of yours there who invited me to hike with you
and another in Abineau Canyon and Bear Jaw
on the north flank of the peaks
             June heat and drought
did not reach where we went dancing up with you
a quick and intent slight woman of laughter that knew
which boots to wear and the way to achieve a mountain
did psychotherapy for a living knew how to
talk and would talk of it too
             we got to quakenasp
every other leaf on them in direct sun and
you called
                          thank you god
             in joy it had to have been
             that
you and I would revisit on our own later to
hold colloquy about metempsychosis and young
Everett Reuss who had fused with the nature he loved
and you thought of the holied ones saying goodbye to
vivid earth in the knowledge they would not come round
again and we did not mention Edward Abbey’s or
any name
            when I was looking you had and did not
rent a room to me which sort of educated my
liking and you had had reconstruction and worried
what a man would think but we took hikes together in
the hardpan country often on the Weatherford road
to Doyle Saddle
             keeping up with you I would write was
like chasing fritillaries you were that good on the
vivid earth we inhabited at our one time
and could see from such height 
             you had me to dinner on
Thanksgiving and the two children you had left in New
Mexico on running away with your profession
             two other
men at the table to rival me I 
thought but you gave me the head of it refilling my
glass with wine you did not drink anymore letting the
children know how you wanted them to vote
             nothing would
come of you and me however beyond a hug and
a long impromptu monsoon-evening talk when I
worked on the Navajo Nation every thirteen-
hour day a lifetime I needed of red dirt of
Indian chatter anglo country on kay-tee-en-
en
             maybe like the holied ones on their goodbye round
we had a knowledge we did not have to say only
act on and I might even have been fearing night as 
I got in with a redhead saltimbanque whom you
had seen and warned me of whom I enjoyed and suffered
in the only more time on earth that would have remained
to you and me
              might have been cathexis not fear when
I heard it had come to you again I wanted day
so much that kept me not with you
              we did meet in a 
hospital waiting room and one afternoon you had
a turban on were puffy I took you to the mesa
walking rather than hiking but we hiked on the south
Wilson Mountain trail with a group
              you and your nurse
not making it to first bench the autumn under way in
Verde Valley and later you in the restaurant
                        joking
              who
drove to the agency every day
to talk with clientele
              I ran into you out on
the avenue and said we ought to get together
                       averted nod
                       at the car door
                       no talking or look
              but on another
street in February a honk
a wave a smile from the same car moving and in a 
week the word you had had to go in had said you were
tired of this
              they were not letting nonfamily
visit I tried to get to you one evening the
next morning and another day could not
              late night a
ting-ringing in my ear might have prepared me for the
news to come Marilyn but I have not been knowing
of such am not 
              your children and brother were taking
your ashes to the mountain
                       we would have known where to
                       find her anyway
I wrote to our circle
               as
we got out of your memorial meeting it hailed

Rodney Nelson work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and “new.” See his page in the Poets & Writers directory
http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson
for a notion of the publishing  history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem “One Winter” won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His “Upstream in Idaho” received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011, and another title, In Wait, is due this year.

**************************

THE INLAW

He called himself THE INLAW. Rolled from town to town in either a beat-up Buick or a crippled brown mare, depending on which version of the legend you believed. Road up and down the streets, pilfering possessions and identities out of mailboxes.

He was Bigfoot. Never fully captured on film, little variations in all the descriptions. A man of such infamy should’ve been apprehended. We were talking millions of federal offenses.

One day I heard the clomp clomp clomp down my street. There he was, on a crippled brown mare, tattered white sack overflowing from his shoulder. The horse moved slowly, but THE INLAW was practically a flash. Hand in and out of each mailbox before you could even recognize he’d taken anything.

He was on the other side of the street, but I knew he’d make his way over to my house. I figured I had plenty of time to plan my action since he probably did a big loop, but I didn’t think it was as simple as running and grabbing the mail before he got there. Sure, that would prevent him from grabbing my bills or the nude mags that usually came on that day, but didn’t I also have a duty to my fellow citizens?

I shuddered on the porch as I watched him slink from box to box. Even though there was nothing singularly terrifying about the man, the whole situation creeped me out. No matter how many boxes he visited, the sack never grew, but I watched him put countless items in it.

I stepped off the porch and marched past rows of daisies to my own mailbox. Just as I was planning my big intervention, my citizen’s arrest, THE INLAW pulled a quick U-turn and called out, “Hold on there, partner.” I tried to avoid eye contact, hoping he was talking to the horse, but curiosity eventually got the best of me. It always does. THE INLAW was staring straight at me, surprising warmth on his smiling face.

“Just stay right where you are,” he said with a policeman’s “stop” gesture.

I bolted for the mailbox. It was the boldest move I’d ever made, and I hoped it wouldn’t be my last. Somehow THE INLAW and his sloth of a horse beat me there, almost like they teleported. The horse bit at my reaching hand.

“I told you to hold on,” THE INLAW said, smile still covering his face.

I pissed myself right in front of them. There was nothing else I could’ve done. They had me and I knew I was a goner. I deserved that final moment of relief.

While I was soaking my lower half, THE INLAW reached in his hand and dropped a handful in the sack.

“The rest is yours,” he said. “And if you ever tell anyone about this…” he warned before riding the mare to the next mailbox. When I looked to my left, sure enough, they were riding off into the sunset.

Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 100 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His story “The Oaten Hands” was named one of 190 notable stories by storySouth’s Million Writers Award in 2009. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, is was released in July 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing, and his first novella, Hallways and Handguns, is due out this spring. Visit him at http://www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm.

***********************

Piggin

A lariat, some lines and rope kinda frayed,
Was discussin’ their uses, how they was played,
When out of collection of some tack in a bin
Another voice piped up, “I don’t mean to butt in,
But fellas , don’t forget the handy piggin.
For ropin’ to tie down, say at brandin’ time,
Aint nothing better you could ever find
Than seven short feet of good piggin string
Tossed round them hooves for a mighty tight sling.
Straighten’ a post that’s been set in soft sand?
Piggin’s as good as another cowhand.
Five miles out and your bridle reign snaps?
Just reach for that piggin tied to your chaps.
He aint long like a lariat, nor strong like a bull,
But the piggin’s always good for a short quick pull.
And a quick mend on the range for plenty of things
Like chokers and chinches, breechins and reigns.
So when dishin’ out praises to long braided things
Remember those handy sweet piggin strings.

Gary Ives is a retired Navy chief- lives in the Ozarks with his wife and two big dogs where he writes and grows apples. His short stories have recently appeared in Frontier Tales, Tales of Old, Hisstories, The Rusty Nail, Efiction, and Freedom Fiction.

June 2012- Week 3

June 19, 2012

JOHN TWOGUNS’ MEDICINE

When my people come I will rise up,
hard eyed, hard armed, hard bellied,
in the colors of war,
in the markings of a warrior,
with the weapons of a man.

The sun has set in my eyes.
Winter has settled in my hair.
My belly hangs over my belt
like a crest of old snow.
I smoke white cigarettes
and cling to my plastic cane.

But, I have seen my people come.
And I have risen up,
hard eyed, hard armed, hard bellied,
in the colors of war,
in the markings of a warrior,
with the weapons of a man.

Edna Running Elk wakes me,
her thin arm across my chest,
her brown eyes shadowed by sleep,
murmuring, “It was only a dream, John.
Only a dream. A dream…”

H. Edgar Hix is a Minnesota poet who has been publishing poetry for around 40 years. His work has appeared in over 100 journals, including recent appearances in bear creek haiku, Waterways, Time of Singing, Priscilla Papers, Crack the Spine, Mutuality, FutureCycle, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal . He has published one poetry chapbook, The Saint Cloud Café and Motor Inn . You can also find his flash fiction ‘Mary Had A Big, Bad Wolf’ in Z-composition, April 2012 Issue.

The Trials Of The Messenger

If you follow the canyon trail down,
the blunderbusses will pick you off.
There is absolutely no cover
save for a few pomegranate bushes.
All is visible through the branches.
If the pragmatic blasts
can reach across this divide,
you’re connected to your apprehension.
Any litter you’ve collected won’t save you.

Colin James has poems forthcoming in Pyrokinection, Nazar Look and Eudice. He has a chapbook of poems
available from Thunderclap Press. Formally of the UK, he now resides in Massachusetts.


THE EARTH WITCH

It is the right time of year to search for the Earth Witch. I once found her lair. It is past the subdivision with its orbit of builders’ waste and tires. Past a ring where teens throw beer cans and cats abandon litters. Past a fisherman’s trail, where two old lawn chairs face each other, holding conversation in the woods. Beyond the green briars curling from the soil like cruel whips. At the lakeshore,
you get the feeling of being watched. Time is remote–you can feel the swell of the earth. I once spotted tall figures walking along the far shore. It was the Crane People. I watched them awhile silently, until early darkness surprised me. Then I cut across the thickest part of the woods, parting the vines with a stick. The forest opened up ahead. Before me, an ancient oak stood covered in ciphers.
A zigzag arrow: snake. Eight-rayed circle: spider. Many Xs and markings I can no longer recall. Hanging from the branches were knotted cords of small skulls– opossum, rabbit, skunk. I crossed a circle of stones blackened by ceremonial fire. Stepping quiet, knowing an Earth Witch received her visions here–once, long ago.

M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. His third book of poems, What We Did With Old Moons, will be released by Winter Goose Publishing this November.

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