September 9, 2019

The Mechanics of Melancholy: Engaging Poetry by Rick Ratliff

The Mechanics of Melancholy: Engaging Poetry by Rick Ratliff

Dark hallways  Long hallway, doors on either side Like the departure platform at a rail station. No eye contact, everyone looking down, Shuffling along the bland grey floor.  Away from the new arrivals  Lighting is always dimmed like perpetual twilight   And darkness creeps out of some doors like a black fog  We come to say goodbye to those who no longer hear, And who stare blankly at the ceiling: While we are looking at the floor.  Departure time is slowly approaching,  Breathing is mechanical like worn breaks And the smell, the odor that’s hard to describe–  Body odor with musty deodorant  Exhalation is pungent.   No talking now  It goes quiet at departure  As we silently stand in ovation as we exit  FORGOTTEN SONG   FORGET ME NOT  She’s not you — yet, neither are you, (anymore) You would like her; I think. Flaxen hair (like yours)   And I trust all the understanding  A widow has of memories and loss.            That helps, as I am daily learning  To be the reluctant guardian…

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August 5, 2019

“Life” – Burbuqe Raufi’s Epic Novella – Part II

“Life” – Burbuqe Raufi’s Epic Novella – Part II

“Life” Part II Angela Miller/the one who served justice for women. The storm was coming sooner than anyone expected. Garbage bins, branches, and road signs flew through the air as she drove her rented white Ford Cabriolet. She ducked her head in fear of getting hit by the flying objects. “Why did I come? Damn it. I knew this was coming,” Angela whined to herself while trying to keep the car on the road. She could hear the cyclone coming closer and closer. Her heart beat fast. Fear had conquered her whole body, and she couldn’t focus. She hit a tree, and the car stopped. She looked around. The air was thick with dust. She coughed; her lungs were full of filth. Her right leg was stuck underneath the steering wheel. She tried to free…

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August 3, 2019

“Life,” A Novella by Burbuqe Raufi

“Life,” A Novella by Burbuqe Raufi

Editor’s Note: “How could you live and have no story to tell?” wrote Dostoevsky in his short story, “White Nights.” Life is about the stories we live and tell, and the three interrelated stories in this intriguing novella by Albanian writer Burbuqe Raufi, are no exception. We present these three stories of “Life” – Sergey Volgov, Angela Miller and Samuel Blanc – beginning tonight and concluding next week. ** “Life” Part I Sergey Volgov—the man who fought poverty. Freckled and ashy pale, Sergey Volgov, a very old man, sat in the wheelchair by the window, watching the mesmerizing motion of the late autumn leaves falling from the trees and landing on the muddy ground, waiting to experience his last breath, but his beaten body resisted freeing his moaning soul. A harsh torture, as was his thin…

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July 24, 2019

Abigail Kipp: Getting to the Heart

Abigail Kipp: Getting to the Heart

Favorite Things   A few of my favorite things fill my head  Sunlight through green leaves dancing in the dark  Rap songs on the radio ignoring what is said  Just moving along down roads lost in the mark  Watching dancers soar wishing I was too  Silver rain on bare skin cool wet slides down  The sound of white snow falling in que  Black skirts a little too short peaceful small town  And the way you looked at me like I lookedAt you lost in innocence the before  The fall when we were both completely hooked  Before we started cold trench and ash war  Moment of love I am doomed to repeat  With everyone that comes next like useless meat.   ** Two languages (free form)  Two languages And I can’t find the words Crawling in my mouth Screaming to be free  Twenty-six letters And I can’t locate The syllables That read  How you let go.  How do I write When poems are all a…

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July 10, 2019

John McKernan: A Deeper Look

John McKernan: A Deeper Look

MIDNIGHT PHONE CALLS FROM MY ALIAS  Quit pretending you are still a teenager   That girl at Wal-Mart keeps asking about you  Have you written your obituary yet?   Which of President Kennedy’s sluts did you like best?  I’m not frightened    Are you?   Where have you been hiding?  Making any money selling cheap fireworks?   Why don’t you visit me anymore?  Sure   Go ahead    Enlist in the Marine Corps   Here are some verbs to help you out    Crawl       Slither   Sneak   Snivel   Grovel  Let me tell you something you need to know   You want a crate of chocolate chip cookies?  Buddha walked through the door showing us the new    tattoos   His entire body a geranium covered        in blue and green and black and yellow and red  What would it take to make you speechless?   A maniac’s kitchen knife to cut out your tongue DIAMONDS OF SWEAT  Drop to the dry ground  Tiny explosions of dust  A large serving of memory please  In a chilled wine glass  With slivers of yesterday   I always…

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June 25, 2019

Charles Rammelkamp: History, Politics, and People

Charles Rammelkamp: History, Politics, and People

The Crud   My mother called him “the crud,” my brother’s friend Alan. I’m not sure what she had against him, besides his lack of ambition – she was a schoolteacher, after all – Alan destined to work in one of the steel factories after graduating from high school – at least until the steel factories all closed.   The Crud loved cars. He could tell you the make and model and year of anything with four wheels and an engine, sported decals of hotrods and muscle cars all over his school folders.   He did speak vaguely of “joining the service,” as his older brother had, then having all his teeth pulled, dentures installed in their place, the stubby twisted teeth in his mouth, a source of private anguish.   When my brother mentioned…

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