Blue Five Notebook – (November 2011 / 11.21)

Kimono Daisy by Leslie Marcus

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.


Martin Willitts

Searching for What Is Not There

Looking into a lake, things are elsewhere, off
center as love when it first enters and leaves.

There is a shimmer of fish,
not where the line drops, but in an angle

frustrating as rejection. Our boat sinks and rises
heaving on the lake’s chest. It takes everything in

and gives it back, reflecting on that moment
sighing in insightful serious tones.


I find a stone soothed by its passing.
I am reassured everything is constant and moving.

Everything is replaced.
Everything is a message for interpretation.

I dip my hands into the water, break
the sheen of surface into its translucent skin.


It is strange, isn’t it, how things find each other?
The alabaster water finds the land.

There is listening among the cattails. A raven
studies intently at its own reflection of dark-blue feathers.

You edge at the water waiting for it to move.
Something in me ripples when you call my name.


Things are not what they seemed at first.
Reflection and new light makes things what they are.

When you reach into water, the thing you try to get
is elsewhere. Who am I to judge what is clear

or not. What is now is different. When I look again
you are still there, dissipated into rain,

hesitant as a migration searching for something better.
It is the staying that seems strange and right.


A journey begins as the sun takes off,
bunches of feathers remaining in a nest of branches.

Fish strike out at small things making ripples
moving towards us. Everything moves closer.

Canoes paddle into shore, in wavering heat.
Gulls circle and lift like hearts.

What was not there before,
is there now.

Martin Willitts’s recent poems appeared in Naugatuck River Review, MiPOesias,, Muse Café, and Caper Journal. He was recently nominated for two Best of The Net awards. He has four new chapbooks: THE GIRL WHO SANG FORTH HORSES (Pudding House Publications, 2010), TRUE SIMPLICITY (Poets Wear Prada Press, 2010), VAN GOGH’S SUNFLOWERS FOR CEZANNE (Finishing Line Press, 2010), and ART IS ALWAYS AN IMPRESSION OF WHAT AN ARTIST SEES (Muse Café, 2010).


Jen Knox

A Good Meal

Ceramic plates clank as they are set down.
Tall glasses clink as they meet at the mouth.
A dropped fork pings at the end of a bite.
He moves his plate away; she pushes it back.

Bits of crusty-edged bread are torn loose.
She holds her tongue gently between her teeth,
grips the hard edge of the table, breathes
in the linen-crisp scent of late afternoon rain.

Together, they taste. They swallow the whole.

Jen Knox is a professor of English at San Antonio College. She is the author of Musical Chairs and To Begin Again (winner of the 2011 Next Generation Book Awards), and her shorter works have appeared or are forthcoming in Annalemma, Bluestem, Gargoyle, Narrative Magazine, Short Story America, Superstition Review and elsewhere. For more about Jen, visit her website.


Karen Douglass

Fear of Snakes

On the sidewalk, a clutch of three
tiny plastic toys. I flinch, step around them. Too late,
they have wriggled into memory and pulled out
a long black racer in Georgia, shooting
under my child’s swing with her in it–screams
and rescue from a shape, a movement already
gone, until we watch from behind a glass door
as our snake swallows a frog on the front walk.
It must get seismic messages through its belly.
We stretch out on raised beds, second-story sleepers.

I meant to think about snakes, but my mind leaped away
as if the word could coil and strike at bare ankles.
I turned away, afraid to step into the tall grass
where I cannot see what’s ahead until I get there,
where I may meet a narrow fellow or some other thing
leaping, scaring me back onto the path well traveled.

The black racer owns the yard. Our guardian snake
defends us against worse versions of its tribe.

Karen Douglass writes poems, novels, a blog, and grocery lists. She lives in Colorado with three dogs, one cat, and her family. Her books include RED GODDESS POEMS; BONES IN THE CHIMNEY (fiction); GREEN RIDER, THINKING HORSE (non-fiction); SOSTENUTO (prose poems); and THE GREAT HUNGER (poems), which is available from Plain View Press (2009). Her webpage is KD’s Bookblog.


Andrew Stancek

Two Steps Back

You cannot run forever.  Mirko spends the night scurrying, running from shadows, ends up on the banks of the Danube. On a patch of grass, under a tree, he sleeps, startled awake often by gurgles of the river, streetcar screeches, his imagination.  Sirens and screams of get him weave together.  He has slept on the street before, but that was with Duro watching his back, both of them drunk, certain of their good fortune, ready for another adventure.  But now, thrown out by his mother and running out on his father, he stands accused of arson.

Hounded by hunger.  Second day without food.  It seems just yesterday that he was rummaging through a restaurant garbage can. Then was hired on as dishwasher but in no time at all The Blue Dream was on fire as he ran and with it his hopes.  Now his stomach is growling. Coffee at least.  Anything.  He tries to fool it with water from a park fountain but he fantasizes a pork chop or a chicken leg.  A girl he knew when he was still living at mother’s drowned herself in the Danube, but she was pregnant. Mirko stares at the slow, implacable river flowing by.  No, not doing that.  Gotta be a better answer.   Downtown.  Stores, restaurants, cafes.  Steal some food, find something to do.

He walks by a corner butcher’s with a chain link of sausages in the window.  Smash and snatch?  Walk into the store, reach and run?  Long knives behind the counter at a butcher’s, someone who knows how to use them.  The smell of cured meat makes his insides cramp.  Keep on walking.  He remembers being in that café with father one morning; father poured a shot of rum into each cup of tea.  Good day, that.  Mirko smiles and then knows. Father never threw him out. Father keeps going.  He won’t even hassle Mirko if he comes back.  Pride a little hurt, sure, but he will eat, eat well, damn it.  As Mirko starts the walk back, he’s whistling one of his father’s tunes.

Andrew Stancek’s recent writing has appeared in Thunderclap Magazine, THIS Literary Magazine, The Linnet’s Wings, Pure Slush, Wilderness House Literary Review, Negative Suck, Istanbul Literary Review, A Twist of Noir, Prime Number Magazine, Left Hand Waving, Bartleby Snopes, and Apollo’s Lyre


James Valvis

Just You Wait Till This Is You Someday

The hospital corridor like the innards of a snake,
how I recoiled from her, glob like porridge
in that wheelchair, half alive and less alert,
holding a cigarette butt in her blotched fingers,

saying, “Just you wait till this is you someday.”
Her leg sores were large as JFK dollars
and her dress was like a polyester poncho,
just a tent with a neck cut out,

under which crested folds of flab
like waves in a small tub of scum-water.
“Just you wait till this is you someday.”
Her teeth had more green than moldy bread,

and her mouth sucked into her face
like a sinkhole, and in her eyes, not death,
but death’s promise of more death.
Who knows how long I stood shaking,

that hag grinning, smiling, then laughing,
then even wanting to pull me close
to her wretched bosom and hold me
under the stench of her enfolding arms.

All I know is I left the hospital that afternoon
and caught the bus back to Greenville,
promising not that it would never be me,
which was too much to hope, but that when it was,

I would pass on my death to no one else.

James Valvis, a former US Army soldier, has had work appear Arts & Letters, BLIP, Eclectica, LA Review, Pedestal Magazine, Rattle, Hanging Loose, New York Quarterly, Night Train, South Carolina Review, and THIS. One of his stories was recently named a Notable Story by storySouth’s Million Writers Award. A poetry collection, HOW TO SAY GOODBYE, is forthcoming by Aortic Books.

About bluefifthreview

Blue Fifth Review, edited by Sam Rasnake, Michelle Elvy, and Bill Yarrow, is an online journal of poetry, flash, and art.
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4 Responses to Blue Five Notebook – (November 2011 / 11.21)

  1. JP Reese says:

    Always awed by Leslie Marcus’ work. Jim Valvis, Jen Knox, and Andrew Stancek’s work is outstanding. These are people with whose work I’m familiar, so I’m equally delighted to discover Karen Douglass and Martin Willitts can stand up in equal quality. Another fine offering here, Sam and Michelle.

  2. drwasy says:

    A feast for the heart here. And the eyes. Gorgeous, gut-wrenching work here, every single piece. This issue I will savor. Peace…

  3. kathydfish says:

    Gorgeous issue, as always. Kudos, everyone!

  4. Pingback: 2011 – All Blue Five Notebook Issues, Special Issues, Features, Quarterlies, and Broadsides | Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook Series

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