THE BEDSIDE BOOK OF NATURAL MAGIC
I need a thought like clean,
I need to dissolve into the whole
rather than solve
a sheet of equations for x.
I don’t want to think about those little
paperbacks that teach
teenagers to hex each other.
The little chills
that can’t help
but fill a moment.
I don’t want to think about how weeds
grow and skin freckles.
Hell is a heck
of a lot less scary
when published in paperback.
It can’t be helped.
The enamel wears thin.
The drain grows
its rusty beard.
Ajax crystals gather
near large underpants.
Singing naked I know
what the most blessed
of hobos knows:
The telephone rings.
The world squirrels
bits of itself away
under our fingernails.
It has to do with renewal
and settling down
to think about a journey
once believed dirty,
once believed endless.
VISITORS FROM BEYOND
I sleep to the sound of waves
defining the shore.
I dream of maintenance snakes need
a thousand holes.
Who is Ruby Stone?
And why is she so smooth
and in my bed?
I have always been open
I used to sleep with the radio on.
The radio waves at night
seemed to rejuvenate
the entire world.
(Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has two new chapbooks: Simpler Times and Staring Down Miracles. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit, and Cream City Review.)
The Truth About Ageing
sun dapples woods
trillium titillates shady patches
cedar perfumes air
crisp clear calm
we knew we’d have to sell our place
on the lake one day
but somehow never
thought that day would come
our future currency of loss
desire yearning despair
The Truth About Happy
This grey that stares
Lies not, stark skin and bone.
Happy, at this age, comes
with many qualifiers.
I was less stiff when
I got out of bed this morning.
I’m happy about that.
Sara’s cancer is confined
to her gall bladder, lymph
nodes and liver are clear.
That makes me happy.
Only five people from my
high school class are dead
and I’m not one of them.
That’s something to celebrate.
Every now and then my left
ankle doesn’t work, but
that’s only every now and then;
mostly it works and I walk
my little dog Mugsi and
watch her tushie wiggle
down Maple Avenue,
and that makes me happy.
I only allow myself half a
grapefruit in the morning but,
after I eat the sections I’ve
carefully carved from the fruit,
I squeeze the juice into my bowl.
Those sips of fresh grapefruit
juice produce a pleasure beyond
joy. And when my wife, Judy,
takes a moment to pat my arm
when I’m cooking our dinner
or kisses me on the cheek
when I put her plate before her,
the happy I feel makes
saints hit their knees.
Of course, there’s the nitwit in Washington,
the constant lies, hypocrisies that cause
mirrors to blush, the idea that empathy
is a national security risk. Yet with us
humans there’s always the possibility
that kindness will be reborn, that
compassion will make a comeback,
that happy will be happy again.
The Truth About Night
Why is the night so craven?
Everything possible during the day
seems impossible at night. I’m
not referring to the raucous bacchanalia
of night clubs and dance halls,
the blockbusters at movie houses,
or poker nights with the guys.
I’m talking about the sweat-soaked
heart pounding 3 AM maelstrom
when you’re sure you have terminal
cancer, an infection no antibiotic will cure,
and that all your arteries will close at once.
This is when your disgraces, every time
you measured your mouth for your foot size,
reappear in technicolor and surround sound,
when the eyes of the world are focused
solely on you and people with names like
Wolf, Anderson, and Rachel smirk and
intone your sins over and over
on their 24-hour news programs.
You rise from bed, an anvil of shame
on your back, pee, sip some water,
crawl under the covers and wait
for light’s subtle shade, that lambent
curtain of forgiveness called dawn.
(Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in over ninety publications.)
The Inlay Work on the Left Side of the Brain
A nest of the woman’s hair
in all directions
like a map of the town.
The poet never stirred
for four days and nights.
A swarm of black flies
quivering up the walls.
Little children with vague
standing over her bed.
linen pale as snow.
(Winston Plowes shares his floating home in Calderdale UK with his seventeen-year-old cat, Sausage. He teaches creative writing in schools, universities and to local groups while she dreams of Mouseland. His latest collection, Tales from the Tachograph was published jointly with Gaia Holmes in 2018 by Calder Valley Poetry. www.winstonplowes.co.uk)
A Minor Distraction
You, who are about to be eaten.
You, trapped among the intangible,
sinking deeper the harder you struggle,
remarkably adept at suffering,
dogged by false intuition,
an icy finger running along your spine,
a premonition gnawing on blood and bone,
your ‘gift’ the curse of seeing
that which lies beyond the senses.
You, somewhat like the rest of us,
inhabited by an innate instability,
temporarily maintaining equilibrium,
keeping the illusion alive, momentarily,
before quietly slipping over the edge.
(Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,500 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press); ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy; (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).
The Beautiful Space-