Current Issue

Blue Five Notebook – (August 2015 / 15.16)

Leslie Marcus, Untitled

Leslie Marcus, Untitled

Artist, Leslie Marcus, born and raised in New York, maintains a cutting edge, continually taking her artwork to greater heights with passion and sensitivity. Moving to California in 1974, Marcus immersed herself in the Fashion World of downtown LA, creating exclusive, original and exotic textile designs for apparel and home furnishings. Derivatives of these designs are now found in her Contemporary Fine Art Paintings of sensuous female figures. Marcus, also an art educator, has taught visual arts in high school and elementary school. She continues to offer private and group classes in watercolor and oil painting. She has achieved numerous awards and recognition. Her art has been reproduced for wine labels, limited edition giclees, and fine art greeting cards. Marcus’ work was recently installed in a permanent collection at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California. You can view more of Marcus’ work here. For inquires & contact at: fineline03@aol.com.

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John Grey

I Call This Living

As long as one tooth can grind another
and I can watch a shoe-lace mysteriously untie,
and the burp, the belch, are never far
from telling the truth about my constitution,
who’s to say I am not living.
I’m breathing through these unquiet lungs.
The funeral’s on its best behavior.
I’m walking down the narrow path.
Mourners keep their distance.
I sit on the couch, cross-legged,
clip my toe-nails.
Please, don’t send flowers just yet.
There’re poems to be written
before the dirt flops on the lid.
There’s love to be had.
And wine to wash it down with.
Food is on the menu
as are unread books.
What disease would dare kill off
a man in the midst of Tolstoy?
Time and time again,
a conversation mutters its way
out of an early grave,
a ballgame fights off cancer,
a lazy day sunbathing
wipes out a billion germs.
I grind my teeth.
The dentist wants me to stop.
Right now, I’m enjoying his warnings.
Consequences will have to wait.

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Rockhurst Review, and Spindrift with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge, and Louisiana Literature.

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Marlene Olin

The List

When the light turned green, the old man walked into traffic. Perhaps the light was red and he took too long to negotiate the curb or maybe he just wasn’t paying attention. But one minute there was a glimpse of white hair and an airborne fedora, and the next moment there was a thud.

The woman slammed on her brakes and ran into the street. The momentum of the car propelled him like a slingshot. Thin and frail, he lay crumbled in his frayed dark suit. His broken eyeglasses were scattered in pieces. A wooden cane was snapped in two. When she bent down and gently placed two fingers on his wrist, she felt nothing.

Finally the ambulance came. She could leave, the policemen told her. She looked up at the sun for reassurance. When she looked down at her feet, they wouldn’t move. She felt bolted to the ground as if the breath had left her body, too. Her brown loafers were covered with blood. Slivers of glass clung to her skirt, shimmered. She vaguely remembered that there were errands to run. Dinner would be late and her husband would be angry. But she just sat on the sidewalk and stared at the dark stain on the pavement. Her cracked hands, hands used to hard work, lay limp in her lap.

An officer, a blur in black, knelt beside her. There’s no wallet, he said. No ID. All the old geezer had on him was a twenty and this list. Like a magician, he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. The handwriting was wobbly and difficult to read, the list short. Take keys. Look both ways. Tell Clare that I love her.

For weeks afterwards the woman called the police to see if they found out who the old man was. The list became a mantra she couldn’t shake. Take keys. Look both ways. Tell Clare that I love her. In the shower and in her sleep, while she cooked and while she ate, it wormed its way into her thoughts.

She placed an ad in the paper. Clare, it said, a friend is trying to reach you at this number. The women had no idea who would respond. Was Clare a long lost child? A wife buried years ago? An abandoned mistress or a forgotten friend?

The woman sat at her kitchen table staring at the phone for hours, and before she knew it the six o’clock news blared on the TV. Some days the laundry went unwashed and the bed unmade. I feel unappreciated, her husband finally announced. She wondered if she could be replaced. If she were lost, who would be compelled to find her?

Take keys. Look both ways. Tell Clare that I love her. Even with the windows open the air in her house felt suffocating. The rooms seemed to have gotten smaller. The woman felt like she was serving a sentence for the wrong crime.

The next morning she threw some things into a small suitcase, wrote her husband a note, and grabbed the car keys. Her plan was simple. She’d get a map of the city and visit every coffee shop, every supermarket, every pharmacy. She’d stop at the stores and ask the clerks if they knew an old man with a fedora. An old man who forgot to look both ways. And Clare, she would add, do you know anyone who was loved by the name of Clare?

Born in Brooklyn, raised in Miami, and educated at the University of Michigan, Marlene Olin recently completed her first novel. Her short stories have been featured or are forthcoming in publications such as Emrys Journal, upstreet Magazine, Meat for Tea, Vine Leaves, The Broken Plate, Poetica , Edge, Steam Ticket, Crack the Spine, and The Saturday Evening Post online. She is also a contributing editor at Arcadia magazine.

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Susan O’Dell Underwood

Disciple

You eat Utah,
literal salt of the earth,
briny efflorescence of an ancient shoreline.
Eat the rust-iron pink and shimmer-silver
encrusting the ruptured bedrock
you walked across in summer sun,
infused in every form –
in the soup’s roux, in simple Sunday eggs,
in homemade oatmeal cookies’ savory edge.

Deep in winter’s early dark,
you crave a brackish life,
no slap-dash dash and sprinkle,
but appetites immersed in tart salinity.
Nothing pure or cautious here in this house.
You cook by finger and touch, tonguing
and eyeing and hefting.
You would sift your very self down into buttery grease,
into the rise and mellow swell of dough,
the way you gave yourself up to the wilderness,
wishing you could enter Zion’s desert rock,
your raw, redeemed life
boiled down to dry blood, saved forever,
erupted minerals stunned in the blue-hard sunlight.

Your sweat as it rose up to evaporate
tasted on your upper lip
exactly like that vast millennial sea.

Susan O’Dell Underwood and her husband David — who have taught at Carson-Newman University for twenty-four years — recently started Sapling Grove Press, which is dedicated to the works of Appalachian poets, writers, and visual artists. She has published poems in several anthologies and journals, including The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume VI, Tennessee, Oxford American, Alimentum, and Rock & Sling. Her chapbooks are From and Love and Other Hungers. She’s currently busy trying to find a home for her novel, Genesis Road.

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Eileen Merriman

A Glacier is a River Frozen in Time

The world was painted in shades of graphite, the day they went to the beach. They gazed over the tinfoil surface of the sea, undulating beneath a corrugated iron sky. They stripped naked and slipped into the water, sliding past each other like seals. Then they tumbled in between the volcanic sand dunes, tangling together until their love ran to mercury in their veins.

Afterwards, she ran her hand through his silver curls, and said, tell me a story. He said, I don’t know any stories. She said, tell me about your work, then. Tell me about your research.

He said, it’s not really something I can talk about. But then she kissed him, slowly, until he looked back at her with hazy eyes. She said, please. I really want to know.

He said, you mustn’t tell anyone. It’s dangerous. Do you hear me?

A finger of unease stroked her stomach. I won’t tell anyone, she said.

He said, I’m researching colour.

She felt a flare in the pit of her belly. Colour, what is that? It sounded so exotic, like a fine wine.

He said, once upon a time, the world had colour. We don’t know why it went away. Maybe it was a meteorite. Maybe it escaped through a hole in the ozone layer.

She was confused. She said, but what is this colour? I don’t understand.

He kissed the side of her neck. It’s a difference in the way we see things – sometimes softer, sometimes sharper. It can make you feel happy or sad. He reached out a hand to tug at the spinifex. This would have been green. Green is new, and fresh. It tastes like mint.

Green, she echoed, as he ran a steely blade of spinifex over her lips.

And that, he said, pointing at the thickening sky, that would be blue.

Blue, she said. Tell me about blue. The word felt cool on her tongue, like water.

Blue, he said, his tongue flicking into her ear, is endless possibility. It is calm, and sometimes pensive. It is a glacier.

A glacier? What is a glacier?

A glacier, he said, is a river frozen in time.

Then he told her about red, the colour of her heart beating, and yellow, the colour of hope.

She began to cry, silvery tears running down her cheeks. Her chest felt as if it was about to split down the middle, like an overripe pear.

I want to see this colour, she said. I think I’ll die if I don’t see this colour.

Don’t cry, he said, as a slate rain began to slip down her cheeks.

But when he looked back her gaze had turned to lead.

Eileen Merriman is a doctor who is seriously addicted to writing. Her work has previously been published in the Sunday Star Times, Takahe, and Flash Frontier. She was awarded second runner-up in the Sunday Star Times National Short Story Competiiton in 2014, and has recently been awarded a mentorship by the New Zealand Society of Authors for her novel, Pieces of You.

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Piet Nieuwland

Bahr al-Zulumat (The Sea of Darkness)

In surf hissing dark night,
Foam curls black
A moon perplexed plays
with needles of memory
Polar stars shine the furnace of a mirage
A fire throws off sparks into the arterial wind
Beauty spots on the lustrous face
Silvery breast, silver fingers encrusted with gold
Blushing mouflon red
Stranger kissing stranger far from home
The sky disappears into endless horizons
Eyes of wind expanding
Into blue halogens

Piet Nieuwland first appeared in The Globe Tapes (Auckland 1985) and has since read poetry in a wide variety of gatherings throughout New Zealand and beyond, including Pechakucha evenings. His poems have been published in Landfall, Live Lines, Mattoid, Takahe, Snafu, Take Flight, Tongue in your ear, Poetry NZ, and online journals.

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