Mercenaire

by Patrick Walsh

I lived in an Elysium strewn with orchids, bougainvillea,
Hibiscus by the roadsides as if chucked by profligate gods;
Plumeria perfumed the breeze that bowed the palms
And set their fronds to click and clack like vegetal chimes.

Vanquished time; undying days put the calendar to rout,
Like starting a stint in solitary in the middle of the night —
Day in, day out and no mortal bearings, only the tides
Governed by an indifferent moon amidst a swoon of stars.

Camouflage concealed me from the eyes of other men
But could not hide me from myself.  I knew my name.
Or back in barracks in starched fatigues, spit-shined boots to mock the sun:
A gold bar on a collar gussies up a hired gun.

Gulches seething with guavas; valleys overrun by verdure
Sprung from red volcanic clay; paths littered with the corpses
Of rotting passion fruits; through this incomplete Paradise
I slither, like that famous snake so unjustly maligned

For bringing death where once there had been only life.

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Author Bio:

After graduating college in 1989, Patrick Walsh served four years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division. He later returned to school to receive an M.Phil. in Anglo-Irish literature from Ireland’s University of Dublin, Trinity College in 1997. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The Christian Science Monitor, Evergreen Review, The Hudson Review, and War, Literature & the Arts, as well as in venues abroad, including The Malahat Review, Poetry New Zealand, THE SHOp, and The Quadrant Book of Poetry, 2001-2010. Recently, he had a poem in the March issue of Chronogram magazine.

Saying Goodbye

by Donald Lasko

      for Galway Kinnell

Say goodbye to the rocker – and the infant
buoyant in the mother’s liquid lap,
eyes bursting with the blinds-filtered sun.

Say goodbye to the simple white desk
with papers once overflowing, and the chair
where you sat in mid-air contemplation.

Say goodbye to the opened white doors,
the gleaming floorboards connecting, to the linens
and pillows stacked high up the wall still flowering.

Say goodbye to yourself in the mirror,
then the mirror itself and the pail entwined with
wandering vines, and the throw rug abstract-patterned.

Say goodbye to the brown knob turning,
the final white door now closing, and
then – to yourself, the stairs descending.

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Author Bio:

Donald Lasko  is a retired public high school English teacher. He and several of his colleagues at Columbia High School in South Orange-Maplewood had the privilege of receiving an NEH grant to study with Galway Kinnell and Sharon Olds from NYU School of Creative Writing. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and has an MA with additional doctoral studies in English at SUNY Stony Brook, where he was also a Lecturer in Education. In addition, he has taught creative writing and poetry for many years at Summer Institute for the Gifted on numerous college campuses, most recently at Princeton University. Beginning in 1963, he has had numerous poems published in “little” magazines and is a co-editor of a two-volume anthology This Is Just To Say: An Anthology Of Reading For Writers for use at the high school level. He is currently in a writers’ group conducted by Nancy Demme at Twin Rivers Library and is a member of Princeton Pro Musica, a semi-professional 100-voice chorus performing locally four concerts per year.

Two Feet In, Six Feet Under

by Lois Marie Harrod

And this my mother shifted, and this
let drop, this forced
into the drawer where she might find it:
you never know what you will need,
the useless, the screwed,
slap-dashed and staring . . .
clattering dump of gray plates
beneath the splash, forgotten saucers . . .
might come in handy.
So we slit the cardboard boxes,
we move the plastic crates
her long fingers no longer touch,
long ears hang until the pitcher breaks.
Ninety-seven years listening
to the muddled ash lying to come clean.
Thirst. Water. Single file at the fountain.
When we got too close, teeth clocked
nickel.  Quick.  Barely a swallow.
Turn it off, the hollow closes
over the mouth, the witch follows,
old oak slam shut,
that’s how things are locked,
hearts twisted among the tumblers.

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Author Bio:

Hopewell resident Lois Marie Harrod has often appeared in the Kelsey Review. Her most recent collection is a chapbook And She Took the Heart (Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press, 2016). Her 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011 She is widely published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. See www.loismarieharrod.org.

Daguerreotype

by Carolina Morales

Plated in brass, cushioned
with velvet, silvered
on copper sheet, embedded
in ornamental Union Case,
his grey eyes stare
from a youthful face
collared and capped
in Union garb, protected

by glass from a war fought
more than 100 years ago.

My bronze skin and dark
hair surface across
the pale image mirrored
from my palm’s lined map,
as slanted to the left,
tilted to the right, we
reverse through darkness,
transpose into light.

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Author Bio:

Carolina Morales is the author of three collections of poetry, Bride of Frankenstein and Other Poems (2008), In Nancy Drew’s Shadow (2010), and Dear Monster (2012), each published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in the Journal of New Jersey Poets, Paterson Literary Review, US1 Worksheets, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Spoon River Poetry Review, and other journals. In 2011, Carolina’s short play The Last December was produced by Fire Rose Productions in North Hollywood, California.

Self-Portrait, Pregnant, NYC 1945

by Carolina Morales        

                                                  after Diane Arbus

Years before my birth
              she poses in a mirror

hung on the back
              of her bedroom door,

composes her tawny stance,
              ripe breasted, melon bellied,

tilts a head crowned
              in thorn-brown hair, balances

along an angled cane,
              preens her slender neck,

cropped inside the frame, camera,
              naked wall, bed already made.

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Author Bio:

Carolina Morales is the author of three collections of poetry, Bride of Frankenstein and Other Poems (2008), In Nancy Drew’s Shadow (2010), and Dear Monster (2012), each published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in the Journal of New Jersey Poets, Paterson Literary Review, US1 Worksheets, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Spoon River Poetry Review, and other journals. In 2011, Carolina’s short play The Last December was produced by Fire Rose Productions in North Hollywood, California.