Artist, Leslie Marcus: Karen Lewis, Ojai Arts Commissioner, writes of Marcus’ technique: “This deft brushwork, and ease and fluidity of painting, and pushing for color, is never more evident that in Marcus’ series of small female figures and portraits painted directly from life.” Marcus was awarded First Place: “Best of Show” at the Juried Group Show, Art in the Park, Ojai, California, 2004. Visit her work at Fine Art America.
A Lily for Sara
Sara undresses by late moonlight,
paints a fluorescent-blue peace lily
on her belly, day-glo blue on her nails,
dances at her apartment window.
Cars slow to a crawl.
One grey-bearded man yells
he’s having a flashback,
tries to climb the smooth brick façade.
Sara’s too young to have been a hippie,
but she’s convinced her heart
is stitched from tie dyes
and faded blue bell bottoms.
She can’t put flowers in gun barrels
so makes this statement instead.
Moody Blues, ELO, Fleetwood Mac—
they all make her lily sway harder.
The crowds thicken.
She makes the late night news,
flashes of nipple discretely edited out.
Novelty over, the street becomes quiet.
Sara finally sleeps, blue blending
into the early morning light.
Pris Campbell’s poetry has appeared in Chiron Review, BOXCAR Poetry Review, Poets / Artists, and Wild Goose Review, among many others. She has three Pushcart nominations and has published five collections of poetry, the most recent being SEA TRAILS and THE NATURE OF ATTRACTION, with Scott Owens. A former Clinical Psychologist, she is sidelined by CFS/ME .
The Death of Narcissus
At the bend in the river where thirty years ago my father and I fished for bluegills and perch, five people–three women, two men–bathe naked in the groping stream. One woman steps from the water and greets me by name. Lifting my eyes to her face, I remember how at sixteen I desperately wanted to see her like this; but now she’s rumpled and scarred and more innocent, unaware of how cruelly puberty has forever distinguished us.
That moment of loss is over, and now her nakedness is casual, devoid of threat or passion. We sit together on the sand and reminisce. Her body’s tough as the fist of an angry man. Once a glimpse of it would’ve felled me where I stood, but now the limpid September light reminds us both that what we hoarded from each other was only the coolest of facts, poor passing things.
The others slouch from the iron current and stand there dripping. Three others I know equally well, two men, one woman, the other woman a stranger. “My sister,” one old friend explains. Aging nudists, sun-rumpled and shameless, their display of flesh suggests how expendable it is, how Emersonian is nature.
The river churns along in black unwieldy depths. The changing trees lean over it like mourners over a casket. Who can tame such wholesale representation?
My friends invite me to join them and reveal my entire self to the sun, but I politely leave them drying on the beach. I’m awed by their utter exposure, but prefer to reserve my excess of flesh. I’d rather refuse my own reflection and drown.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is WAITING FOR THE ANGEL (2009). He has published three critical studies, including ROBERT LOWELL’S SHIFTING COLORS. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge.
In Paris, lights from the Eiffel cling to her
eyebrows, before they huddle tight in his eyes, in another
room. At home, prepositions hunt for useful
inflections, the way apparitions try to leave mirrors.
Each week, their bodies are shadows on
pool-floor, imitating freedom of eels, hoping to expand,
then fade into water. Often,
before sunrise, sounds of kitchen utensils rise and
fall, oscillating around the night before, hoping to choke
possibilities and significance in words.
Michael Caylo-Baradi’s work has appeared in Blue Print Review, Prick of the Spindle, and elsewhere. He lives in California.
A very foxy chick named Tracy (they tell me at work my lingo is outdated but she is a very foxy chick) got hired as bookkeeper. Baby you can keep my book any day said Charlie Fiedler-Wrangler under his breath. Like baby ain’t a totally dead word? But I keep my mouth shut. Some day Charlie Fiedler-Wrangler will inherit the business. It’s a lousy wholesale tire outlet where gas stations get tires when somebody gets a flat. The Fiedler-Wranglers act like it’s Tiffanys. My wife used to say that: They act like it’s Tiffanys. It used to annoy me. Now I’m starting to think like my wife. And other things. She made lopsided pancakes. I like mine round and perfect. Hers had a high side that was mush on the inside. This morning before work I made myself pancakes. They came out mushy like hers used to. Lopsided and shaped in a mass. I would call them that. Mass. Not round by any stretch. I tried feeding a piece to Doug my snake. He lives in a fish tank. Doug kept clear of it. Understandable. This new Tracybookkeeper has a lot of hair wrapped up in a round thing on her head. A mass, also. Nothing is what it appears. I plan on bringing Doug to work tomorrow. I’ve been practicing. I place him around my neck. His head and tail end dangle down the front of my t-shirt. If I wear a collar shirt I can slip Doug underneath and nobody will see. It will be our little secret. I told him this this morning. I left the scrap of pancake in the tank in case he changes his mind. Tracy is sitting in a slouch at her desk. What’s the matter Tracy I say. She looks me up and down. Do you need coffee I say. That seems to soften her some. She smiles at the corners and her eyes perk up. It’s how Doug is when I’m nice to him. I’m always nice to him. People respond to that little extra something, you know?
Susan Tepper is co-author of the new novel WHAT MAY HAVE BEEN: LETTERS OF JACKSON POLLOCK & DORI G (Cervena Barva Press). Her other books include DEER & OTHER STORIES (Wilderness House Press, 2009) and the poetry chapbook BLUE EDGE. Tepper writes “Monday Chat” on Fictionaut.
John Sibley Williams
Forks knives spoons.
A well-lit room
with too many clocks.
The coins saved
All these burnt offerings
by static deities.
And the mirrors, always
the fractured bits of myself
screaming from within
whatever I try to touch.
I lay them carefully
around my heart.
I whisper them into
the deep well out back.
I plant them
like wheat in the ocean,
like salmon eggs in a cornfield,
and bind the rest of me
to their tiny