Sunday, 20 May 2018

Doing Laundry on a Farm in the Fifties by Donal Mahoney



Grandma Gretchen's in her rocker and she has something to say.

She tells a visitor, a young man from the city, if he plans to write a book about life on a farm in the Fifties, he likely has a lot to learn. She knows about that life because she was there. She says he needs to know about the little things as well as the big things if the book is going to be accurate.

For example, she says for him to understand that culture, he needs to know how laundry was done back then. This was before electric washers and dryers became popular. And he needs to understand why some farm wives today still use a wringer washer to do their laundry, usually on a Monday if the weather is nice.

The visitor agrees. So as he and Grandma sip strong coffee and nibble on scones from yesterday, Grandma starts to rock faster and begins a long tutorial.

The young man begins to feel he’s back in law school and should be taking notes but he had no reason to bring a notebook. He thought he was just visiting an older lady still living in her old farmhouse, a widow cared for by her adult children.

Colors and whites, Grandma explains, are always washed separately. Undies are washed separately as well. Sheets and towels are washed by themselves as are the men’s clothes.

“Men’s clothes are the filthiest thing on laundry day on any farm,” Grandma says, "especially the overalls.

"Believe me, young man, overalls are always washed alone. It’s a task no farm wife enjoys."

In good weather, she says the whites are the first to be hung out to dry.

The clothesline is strung between two trees or from a tree to a hook on the house. As long as the line is not under where birds might perch, everything’s okay.

“Between two trees is prettier,” she says, "and a clothesline should look pretty."

Warming to her task, Grandma goes on to explain that clothespins join all of the wash together except for bras which are hung by a single strap.

"A good wind and bras will kick," she says, "like the Rockettes.”

The young man wonders how she knows about the Rockettes. He was told that Grandma's sole exposure to the media over the years has been a Gospel music station on an old RCA console radio stationed not far from her rocking chair.

She goes on to point out that if it starts to rain and the clothes are nearly dry, the farm wife dashes out and rushes the clothes into the house.

"Even if he’s in the house at the time, her husband isn’t any help,” she says. “On a farm men have their tasks and women have theirs.”

Grandma admits she’s heard that some younger men today may help out in ways they would never have done back in the Fifties. That’s a big surprise, she says, if it’s true.

Then she mentions something the young man had been told by one of her daughters: Grandma and her husband, Carl, had seven kids. Carl took care of the farm and Grandma took care of the kids.

"Seven kids are a lot of work," she says, "but Carl had 20 cows to milk every morning and 100 hogs to slop and eggs to gather in the hen house. I’d rather take care of Carl and seven kids."

Grandma finishes her tutorial by telling the visitor that although she wishes him well, she doesn’t know how a man from the city can write a book about farm life in the Fifties.

"You weren’t there," she tells him with all the kindness and wonder she can muster.

He tells her all he can do is try and maybe with her help something good will come of it.

She tells him he better let her read what he writes before it’s printed. She says she just got new bifocals.

The young man says she will be the first to read it.

And then he reaches for another day-old scone.

*****

One of many nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney 
has had poetry and fiction appear in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html

Friday, 18 May 2018

Art Model by Jon Bennett


The great thing about 100k tuition
was the school provided
free therapy,
I’d been panicking
since day one.
“Honey, you have
body image issues,”
said Dr. Maltos,
“you need to
face your fears.”
I considered running a marathon
or climbing Mt. Everest
naked,
but I couldn’t afford to
because of the student debt
so I became
an artist’s model.
I’m pigeon chested
with a distended belly,
psoriasis, scoliosis and alopecia
but I let the robe fall.
The students didn’t
say a thing
though I think they appreciated
the added ornament
of a trickle of tears.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Story I Always Wanted to Write: An Ode to My Childhood Imagination by JD De Hart

Scrappo, mechanical scrap metal creation
made by the Marion County salvage committee, Salem, Oregon, 1942


Welcome to the City, once called Salem, changed to Slam, a bit of scratching on the road sign.  Maybe it’s a change in the atmosphere, more rays allowed through, but here people could do amazing feats.  Just the kind of feats I wanted to do as a kid.

Slam City is where you can find…

a slender robotic assassin with ebony liquid skin, probably inspired by The Matrix;

a man with implements on his feet large enough to cause an earthquake.  I called him Stamper, imagined his thudding steps shattering the world to its center.

A guy who could leap a tall building in a…well, you know.  Kangaroo. I drew him once or twice, complete with hat and bionic legs.

Because who wouldn’t want bionic legs? 

A figure from my dreams with gun metal gray hair and a mouth sewn shut, stitched dark clothing, went by the name Silence.  He was probably inspired by The Crow.

I drew his costume in between drawing the one I would wear when I could save the world.  Superhero was going to be my hobby, I suppose.  I settled for writing about them instead.

An unfortunate fool who turned the wrong knob in an experiment and became a living creature of stone, dubbed Cement.

My family pet, the barky Chihuahua, blown up into a fifteen-feet tall monster, his bug-eyes bouncing along a dark street.

A character inspired by Jim Carrey’s Mask with purple skin, a lavender suit, and two ping- pong paddles to spin him into manic orbit.  He would deliver jokes I had not written yet.

Maybe I read too many comics.  Maybe I watched too many films.  These days, I embrace my graphic novel reading and blog about it.

To finish this world out, an entire race called The Lizards who lived on the bottom, darkened level of the metropolis, led by a scarlet-clad reptile man called Levine.  Surely this many-leveled world was inspired by my frequent visits to Batman Forever.

Another race of creatures called The Sand who live in the outer recesses where the urban landscape meets what used to be forest.

I dreamed their stories daily in my childhood walks with my father and his large black dog.

In those reflections, I saw a figure with the wings of a hawk and the body of a man who could swoop down deliver them all, if he only cared.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Kepler's Telescope Finds Five New Exoplanets by Andrea Wyatt

Space backdrop 2 by Futurilla


Imagine a huge thermometer,

we are pretty close to the bottom
not as low as
Jupiter or Neptune
bluest of the blue,

but a little higher, between

water freezes and water boils
closer to freezes,

on that imaginary glass device
with Fahrenheit on one side

going up the thermometer past lead melts

we come to mercury and venus
out of the corner of our eye

like Diana of the hunt
see Serena’s big sister
stalk Clijsters

then nothing
until the thermometer registers

molten lava and gold melts,
and there they are,

 five exoplanets
 hotter than molten lava,

 glowing,

 orbiting their stars
 three to five days,

one of them amazingly
light like Styrofoam.

*****

Andrea Wyatt’s is coeditor of Selected Poems by Larry Eigner (Oyez Press), Collected Poems by Max Douglas (White Dot Press), and The Brooklyn Reader (Random House/Harmony). Her work appears in numerous periodicals and anthologies, most recently The Absence of Something Specified. Wyatt works in Washington, DC for the National Park Service.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Blood Poisoning by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Blood Cells by Andres Mason


Blood poisoning
is not so much about
the blood

as it is about
the poisoning

just as the poem
should be all about
the blood
of experience

and not
the supporting cast
of words

that fill things
out.

*****

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review and The New York Quarterly.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Shoes by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

First person view of my shoes on playa
Racetrack Playa @ Death Valley Park National Park, California
photograph by David Fulmer


When I was fourteen
I ran away
became
a hermit in Death Valley

I expected to dehydrate
to whatever was my essence
and in that way
discover myself

but a hundred-year storm came up
and nearly drowned me
in the parched landscape

Wildflowers bloomed like never before
Yellow and purple

Death Valley was too beautiful for me
I returned to suburbia
wearing a pair of shoes

a lady ranger had given me
when she discovered
I hadn’t any

*****

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois  has had over thirteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad including Beakful. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and. was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To read more of his work, Google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Overstaying by JD DeHart

Lightning over St-Laurent River on a stormy night in Quebec by JP Marquis


Poets know not to overstay
their welcome.

They linger on the page for just
a while,

a quick word, a brief description,
rhyme or no rhyme.

They say what they need to say,
sometimes veiled in metaphor,

then go skipping away.