Blue Five Notebook – (January 2015 / 15.1)
Artist, Robert Bharda (Ward), originally from New York City, has lived in the Seattle area where for the last 35 years he has specialized in vintage photographica as a profession, everything from salt prints to poloroids. His illustrations/artwork have appeared in numerous U.S. and Canadian publications, including Naugatuck River Review and Conclave 8. His poetry, fiction and critical reviews have appeared The North American Review, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, Quarterly West, Fine Madness, Kansas Quarterly, Yellow Silk, Poets On, and many others including anthologies.
More Than We’re Given
just believe in the light
baby field mice naked and blind
you can’t lean back too far
to put your thought inside the hole
you might not feel anything at all
under the seat an old cigar tube
I didn’t think it was broken yet
can’t you see
the two of us
honking up time and spitting the sky
beer and despair and beanbags wedged between
radio wide like
dawn running away
strutting across the cornfield
a fat wet glass of joy spilling
an empty container still contains
a new assembly line assembling
you have to pay now
you have to drive it home
Rich Ives is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. His book of days, Tunneling to the Moon, is currently being serialized with a work per day appearing for all of 2014 at Silenced Press. Tunneling to the Moon and Light from a Small Brown Bird (poetry, Bitter Oleander Press) are both due out in paperback in 2014.
You’re a big girl now and Daddy will watch your doll. We can go to the restroom together. Leave your napkin on the table.
Let me kiss your boo-boo.
Study your spelling.
A good girl washes her hands before eating. Chew your food with your mouth closed.
First we dig a hole for the geranium. Water the rhododendron this way.
You seem tired. You should take a nap. Yes, I’m tired too. I have work to do. I‘ll sleep when I’m dead.
Don’t run. Don’t shriek. Don’t make friends with bad girls. They smoke cigarettes.
Don’t make friends with bad boys. They drink beer.
Practice your piano lessons. That way, when you’re sad, you can play music.
No, you can’t buy a new pair of boots. We don’t have the money.
No, you can’t travel to Chicago. We don’t have the money.
Apologize to Miss Temple for losing your homework.
Apologize to your sister for calling her dummy.
Apologize to your father for calling him stingy.
Apologize to your aunt for missing her birthday. You’re a grownup now with grownup responsibilities.
Polish your shoes, so people will think you’re polite.
Stand up straight, honey. You don’t want to look like an old lady.
We’re so proud of you. Summa cum laude! Write thank-you notes to your teachers.
Don’t worry about me. Visit your grandmother in hospice. I have a cold and don’t want to give it to her. Only a summer cold. But I’m glad to see you and Robert. When will you two get married? It would make your grandmother happy. And of course, me too.
I’m just tired. Bring me that box of tissues. I need to cough a little. And open that window. I like to see the roses that I planted.
Cezarija Abartis’ Nice Girls and Other Stories was published by New Rivers Press. Her stories have appeared in Pure Slush, Per Contra, and New York Tyrant, among others. She participates on ShowMeYourLits.com and Zoetrope.com. Her flash, “The Writer,” was selected by Dan Chaon for Wigleaf’s Top 50 online Fictions of 2012. “History,” published by The Lascaux Review, was chosen as April Story of the Month by The Committee Room. Recently she completed a novel, a thriller. She teaches at St. Cloud State University.
The earth has music for those
who listen. ~Santayana
Around midnight, I ask again,
“Do you hear it?” It’s not the engines
from McClellan Field, nor the purr of the frig,
more something of earth or sky, or both.
Over the Aegean, a quarter moon
and single star spangle in dawn’s first light.
A smart man once said “Heaven is today,
not yesterday and not tomorrow.”
(sorry you missed it).
I look up the Aramaic word for heaven:
(light, sacred vibrations, never ending).
And when I think complete silence,
that echo again, the pulse of a million suns,
the slip of comet’s tail—
I want to find heaven on earth, a glimpse
of kindness in the everyday. An Arab country
gives our students new computers
after their school was tornado damaged.
Think back to the joy almost missed at lunch,
corona of noonday sun over the office building,
the photo you snapped with your cellphone.
The constant reaching takes solitude
and a pause, the empty table, a glass of water.
(Then, Rumi says, “You know you are home.”)
I wept when a few bees returned to deep cones
of white prairie flowers, hovered in golden pollen,
shook loose golden abundance in mid-air.
I was told to watch for attractors,
great and small. We know well the pull
of a hummingbird’s wing, the moon’s
constant tug. All vibrations serve: the squirrel’s
tiny muscle quivering as he buries
a last shell in the flower bed, the pulsing
pinecones smack on our metal roof, the friendly
worm’s long stretch, wisp of slow arch re-entering
the earth and your cool breath on my pillow.
Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis and also has an M.A. in Anthropology from CSU Sacramento. The 2013 winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, Stevens also has three Pushcart Nominations. Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, West Wind, Evansville Review, and Valpariaso Poetry Review. Two new chapbooks will be published this year. Her artwork has been part of Sable and Brush, an exhibition of artists who also write.
Twelve hundred a month isn’t worth more than the top ramen on the pantry’s bottom shelf. The Progresso is off limits. So is the Diet Coke. She dares me to even lay eyes on the Cool Ranch because that’ll be the end of me. I can drink all the water I want out of the tap. The fridge is off limits, especially the juice inside. I can get ice from the freezer but only two to three cubes per cup with the tap water. That’s all I need to know about the kitchen. Television watching is okay so long as either she or Mr. Kenneth turned it on. They also have to be sitting in the living room. Other than that, it’s off limits. There’s only one bathroom in the house which means I have to wait my turn, whatever that means. I have to empty the trash when I get home from school. That’s the bag under the kitchen sink and the one in the bathroom. I’m not allowed in their bedroom where the other trash is. My bed is in the extra room with the computer which is also off limits. If Mr. Kenneth needs to relax sometimes with computer games, I have to leave the room and wait in the living room. But if no one’s there, the television is off limits. The phone is off limits too. The piano is for show, I’m not to defile it. There’s no extra house key for me so I have to picture myself like a dog and ask to be let out for school. I have to bark when I’m done pissing on the lawn. That’s a joke because if there was a lawn, I’d have to mow it every day just like the trash. No strays in the house. Her words turn into indecipherable noise. I’m already wondering about my next destination, halfway house or juvenile shelter. I wonder where my mom is tonight. She was naked and overdosed when I saw her last. I’ll be gone in the morning. Maybe I can find her before the cops do. A litany of words and rules still coming my way. I smell stale cigarette breath.
Vilaska Nguyen is a felony trial attorney at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. His fiction has appeared in NANO Fiction.
A Door in Your Shape
When I saw your ghost hitching east
from a turnpike stop, late summer Ohio,
the wasted feeling of it
lingered on me like the nutmeg-smell
of those poppies that bloomed wherever you were going,
that rose from beds of false indigo,
Indian paintbrushes, all of them, wild, all of them, flowers,
you floating to them, home, or
spilling rest stop vending machine twilight
where I saw you, when I saw you, I hauled ass,
crossing three lanes of turnpike traffic
to put as much space as I could
between you and me and the boy, whom I have made with Helen,
the boy, who, riding shotgun beside me, did not yet know
that he, too, like you, is an angel
who needed to learn how to hide.
That’s how it usually works, Janis.
That’s what I’ve learned by listening to you.
What your soul might have seen
I’ve felt drop with the coins I’ve thumbed
down the black slit, down inside the lit door,
the machinery exchanging the song
of the thing we wish for
for the thump of the thing we eventually get.
Behind us, against the right-of-way boundary,
thistles with flower tops
that blew themselves open,
their summer of thinking about you
going wild into seed.
There are sycamore trees rooting from the westward side of our road.
They rake the interstate farm sky clean of its bindles of wind
till they shake through their crowns.
Like that, Janis, there you were, your shirt, inside out.
Into safe bags what frightens us
we empty, tying them shut with sensible Midwestern string.
A door in your shape—
how else should we see these drifts of dry roadside wildflowers?
What isn’t a road, that has lived, then gone out of this world?
The big-rig trucks were all lined up, idling in their sleep-shifts.
Big songs that were filling you
keep on carrying you to our sky.
Mile-marker posts cut distance loose.
I saw you slant your look toward our car.
Your fingers scissor the air, parts, falling out of you.
Heroin on the foil smells like apples or dirty clothes.
With the last shot in your arm, I hear them say, you stood,
tamping a pack of cigarettes, lingering in the lobby.
A long time, a string of starlings flew out of you, unwinding
its arm in the black hole of the roost grove.
Any amount of time is a long time, holding your hand.
Breathing your hair.