F. S. Blake
Like a slow burning fuse to a well armed sleep bomb
I mark the end of another day alive
Solitary peace breaks the disfigured symmetry of insurgency
And personal holy incense wafts up from my corner of babylon
I pause and reflect into future veteran mirrors of awe
amazed at what I’ve seen and been asked to do
I quietly apologize for my own brand of torture
I secretly dissect my mission and mandate
If I pause too long
my mind drifts to the place I came from
Purple mountain majesties of home and love
yearning for foods gone by and trifels of non-war neighborhoods
So I don’t
I just quietly puff and stare
and hope I make it to another
Barry Yeoman is originally from Springfield, Ohio and currently lives in London, Ohio. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in Danse Macabre, Harbinger Asylum, Red Fez, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Crack the Spine, Burningword Literary Journal, Two Hawks Quarterly, Wilderness House Literary Review, and The Rusty Nail, among others. You can read more of his published work at www.redfez.net/member/1168/bookshelf
Morning Thunderstorm in Small Town America
Countless dreams, transient
as a snap of burning wood in the fire-pit.
That ancient fire has turned to ash.
This morning a thunderstorm
cracks mystical and rumbles, flashes,
then opens up, an absolute deluge.
More dreams, torrential musings,
the building across the courtyard
disappears in a dense wall of water.
Silver sparks by the millions
bombard the surface of concrete
and asphalt, flooding the streets
in a matter of minutes, before
tapering off, crisp breeze of a cold-front
carrying that fresh earthy scent.
A chain-link of memories comes rushing,
flooding the mind with stories.
What are your first memories of water?
I recall as a child swimming underwater
in the Ohio River, town of Ripley,
where my grandad kept his boat.
Water too dirty to open your eyes,
I remember the strange muted sounds
of the docks, the boats, and the constant
humming in the ears, like a loud
electrical current, till I popped up
to the clarity of sun and air at the surface.
From placenta to playground
to summers lost without explanation,
to deaths of grandparents;
we grow older, as the water recycles.
I have a handy tap for thirst, while women
by the millions walk miles
with jugs of precious cargo on their heads,
and the rain comes this morning, a blessing
of ambivalence, the birds chirp about incessantly.
The comet, seen heavy like pollen sacks leaking
flower dust on the day of Mark Twains’ birth
over Hannibal, Missouri, will be gone
in a thousand more revolutions as its mass decays.
When it returned in 1910, after its seventy-five year orbit
rounded it close to the sun, a heart attack
slung Twain away.
The comet is a weeping drop as it crawls toward nothing—
its face lamped with ice. This apparition of Caesar’s death
heads a path for souls across the black brine of space.
The Empire minted Caesar’s face onto a coin
and in the background, a dust shimmer
like a horse’s tail in canter. Up there,
there are no dreams, but this dimpled oracle
—all nails and teeth with midnight cavities—
foretold the birth of Jesus,
brought The Slaughter of the Innocents
because Herod the Great feared losing his kingdom
of Jews. A magi whispered male child in his ear,
conspired, leaned like an insect with an eye
that causes its ellipse toward light,
as if a particle of a question curled around its ear:
the question King Harold II asked the comet
before his army’s slaying
by William the Conqueror: sharpened iron
with a feathered back-end
arched across the battle field: Harold fell,
an arrow through the eye.
Robert Evory is doctoral assistant at Western Michigan University where he is a reader for Third Coast and New Issues Press. He has an MFA from Syracuse University. Currently, he is co-founder and managing editor for thepoetsbillow.org. His poetry is featured or is forthcoming in: Natural Bridge, Nashville Review, Wisconsin Review, Ghost Town, The Madison Review, Arroyo, Water~Stone Review, and elsewhere.
Sunset Cigar - F. S. Blake
Morning Thunderstorm in Small Town America - Barry Yeoman
The Cost of Living - J. H. Johns
F.S. Blake is a Bronze Star decorated U.S. Army Veteran. He is a photographer, advanced SCUBA diver, licensed general contractor, ordained minister, entrepreneur, and proud husband and father. He has poems published or forthcoming in o-dark-thirty and Line of Advance.
The Cost of Living
J. H. Johns
as I usually do-
in the morning
at the 7-11
to pick up the paper;
the usual crowd was there;
Mister Kim, the cashier,
commuters rushing to catch
and the homeless guy
outside the store door
as he has for
the last seven years;
sometimes sounding like
he’s talking to himself,
sometimes sounding like
he’s talking to you-
all the while
when we all heard him ask;
not for a cup of coffee
or a bagel
or a quarter
or even a dollar-
but for five dollars;
so clear and sharp
that it led all of us
to marvel and wonder
at how things
have changed since-
“…hey, buddy, can you spare a dime?…”
but we also asked
J. H. Johns is “holed up” in a small town in upstate New York where he and his coonhound buddy, Roma, work to obscure their house from the “locals.” He has appeared in a number of publications, including Syndic Literary Journal where his work has been published and narrated.