Mar '03 [Home]


Witness to Increasing Peril
Allan Peterson

Center Point
Paul McGlynn

Mrs. Hill
Rodney Wood

An Unglickshe Tag
Nancy Haiduck

If you ever have a child
Chris Allen Clark

Once at Sunset in Arlington Virginia
Christopher A. Miller

Image by Maureen Holm,
(C) 2002 Big City Lit

Witness to Increasing Peril
Allan Peterson

Eric our checker has Conformity
Is Suicide tattooed
on his forearm as a footnote for life.
He rings up the lemons
and bouquet and flashes his attitude
in flesh text
while under him his shadow makes fun.
First a rhino as he swipes.
A dwarf sideways behind his back.
Traditional fluorescents working against him.

There is nothing in the myths anymore
just this over and over.
And there is conformity. There is witness
to increasing peril.
There is spending just to go fast. Double-bagging
opinionated hopes.
But no energy's left in the Don't Look Back,
the ruined man
twisted to a stick, waking up from death
like a nap mistaken,
the always assumption of Something More,
especially for us.
And if you have it, what do you have?
And then what?

~ . ~

Center Point
Paul McGlynn

The Chicago train passes after supper,
Trailing four heartbreaking cries;
It leaves behind uneasy silence,
The absence of its uproar.
Melissa stores that memory
In her thoughts as in a place,
Her kitchen, say, or living room;
Arrangement on a table.

For her, the train is time, or future,
Perhaps some lover years ago,
Stark metaphor of Something.

In the geometry of Melissa's mind,
Through darkness, pedantries of clock,
Telling three-o-four, then three-o-five,
That train is the center point,
With its wails and uproar,
Cries of crows, indignant at its passing.

And miles from her bed,
Melissa can see the lighted pageant
Of the train's bright destination.

~ . ~

Mrs. Hill
Rodney Wood

      Dogs are asleep all over town.
      —B. H. Fairchild

Walt sat in his chair, hands folded
across his lap.
After his wife died
he continued to live at home but
no longer bought books, newspapers or cut
his shoulder-length hair.

A couple of
steps and he's in the kitchen where
he can stroke the things his wife
touched, but the steel feels so cold.
He likes to imagine he loved her
in all the ways it was possible
from the lust-fueled to the pure.
The night she died they sat by
the fireplace sharing chocolates until she
started to bleed.

~ . ~

An Unglicklishe Tag
Nancy Haiduck

My hysterical cousins wonder
who's going to pay their household bills now
that Aunt Sue is dead.
"I'm sure she had life insurance."
"Did you call her lawyer?"
refusing to wash her bedclothes,
having trouble removing the screws from the rails of the toilet seat,
throwing out the battery the EMS driver used to try
to restart her heart and left behind
along with the pills and the shopping bag filled with bills paid
held together with rubber bands
and her teeth
too, must go.

"Hey, do you remember when we slammed
into Moishe's tomato stand on our tricycles
when we were 4?"
"Oh, sure. Moishe ran out shaking his finger,
'I'm gonna tell your grandmother!'"
"Whatever happened to Moishe?"
"His tomato stand became Daitch's Shopwell."
"That's what Aunt Sue told me."

The young cousins cry in each other's arms.
"I didn't call her Sunday.
I thought I would see her today."
"Rabbi wants to know her mother's maiden name."
"She told me once."
"Her grandmother's name was Leah."
"Is that my great great grandmother?"

"She always sent me for blueberry muffins."
"She liked blueberry pop tarts, too."
"She always wanted a slice of pizza with pepperoni."
"I finally found a store that sells gefilte fish, a dusty jar of it."
"We couldn't find matzo balls for the Seder."
"Don't Jews live in the Bronx anymore?"
"Rabbi said the Hebrew school is closed."
"She was teaching me Yiddish."

"Just last week she asked me to take out the garbage.
I said, 'Sue, where is your son-in-law?'
'He's at the gym lifting weights—
he should only lift some weights around here!'"
"Just last week she asked me to buy her fingernail glue,
which I did, when I went to pick up her prescription."
"Her feet swelled and she was scared."
"We waited in the doctor's office for two hours.
He told us to go home."
"Did she take her medicine?"
"She put away the breakfast dishes, read The Daily News,"
"Did she do the crossword puzzle?"
"and then went back to bed."
"Here's a photo of her with her arms around me
only a year ago."

"Tiere Freint, Dos is far unz sehr an unglicklishe tag,
a very unhappy day."

~ . ~

If you ever have a child
Chris Allen Clark

If you ever have a child, I will eat it

Shake and shake and shake.
The seasoning is well done.
My heart. Your flesh.
And the two shall become one.

Dirty woman that you are,
I never loved you before
The ankle bracelets, the chains,
The sensuous black velvet,

The black tape across your mouth.

I will never hear your words again.

Hands that grip a bedpost
In fear.
Eyeballs the color of snow
Hold me close to you.
I will never let you go.

I will never let you go.

I will eat your child before
Our first winter snow.

~ . ~

Once at Sunset in Arlington Virginia
Christopher A. Miller

Once at sunset in Arlington Virginia
out the kitchen window past the highway and
over the stones of the National Cemetery
lined in long rows like white pills,
the single horn of an orange sun burnt
a foily stripe down the Potomac.

I remember the
crusty smell of our apartment,
your yogurt spoon in the sink,
the plastic dishrack, the flakes of paint on the cabinets,
and the stoic radiator. I remember
the branches of the acacia tree in the courtyard pecked
against the glass, and that
traffic on 50 was muted and fast.

I remember a
stack of bills and letters on the table, unopened,
textbooks and spiral notebooks on your desk,
the cheap rug that stuck to the floor like an octopus
in the summer heat.
You watched television on the couch.
You had such tiny pretty feet, and I thought it although
I did not say it

I went to play a game
on the old tv we kept in the bedroom. The glare
of the sunset cut a triangle across the fuzzy screen and
it was hard to see.
On top of your dresser was a bottle of nail polish, a
baseball cap, and a pair of purple cotton panties.
When the sun was finished I stopped squinting.
You changed the channels:
I could tell from the sound.

And then like the sun, that place, that minute, and us
were finished, gone.
And we were both very quiet for a while as if
the departure might pass over us and take only the day even if
we both knew better.

Allan Peterson's poetry manuscript, Anonymous Or, won the 2001 Defined Providence Press competition. Poems have appeared online in The Adirondack Review, Poetry Bay, Alligator Juniper, and Big City Lit. Print appearances include Marlboro Review, Pleiades, Bellingham Review, Amherst Review, and Shenandoah. He has been awarded fellowships from the Florida Arts Council Fellowship and the NEA.

Paul McGlynn has published very widely in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including The Ledge, Chiron Review, Poetry Motel, Parting Gifts, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Bogg, and Lynx Eye. His chapbook, Magical Regression, was published in 1993 by AlphaBeat Press. A retired academic, his poetry is not. Major influences are Blake, Ginsberg, and Wallace Stevens. Art, travel, and love (not necessarily in that order) have played a part—and growing up in Detroit. He lives in Ann Arbor. This is his first appearance on the magazine.

Rodney Wood has published widely in England, in Iron, Stand, Obsessed With Pipework, Rain Dog, Reater, and in two anthologies:  Star Trek—the poems and Return to Sender—Elvis Presley. He lives near Guildford. This is his first appearance on the magazine.

Nancy Haiduck went to the Iowa Writers Workshop several years ago as a fiction writer, but recently has devoted her efforts mostly to poetry. She goes to San Francisco this month to accept First Prize in the 2003 Soul-Making Poetry Contest sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women, San Francisco Bay Area Branch, and was a finalist in the 2002 poetry contest sponsored by the Harriet Kahn Poetry Foundation.

Chris Allen Clark lives in Mississippi, where he writes poetry, short stories and is attempting a novel. His interests include 16th century English history and classic movies. He is pursuing a Masters in History and plans to teach. This is his first appearance on the magazine.

Christopher A. Miller is a graduate of the College of New Jersey's literature program, where he studied with the Trenton poet Peter Wood. He has lived and traveled extensively across the US, especially in the cities of the East Coast, and makes his living as an architectural writer. He recently completed a first novel and is currently at work on a collection of short stories. This is his first appearance on the magazine.

~ . ~ . ~