Friday, May 24, 2024

 

This month another Moon Prize, the 137th, goes to Kelly White Arnold's poem "What I Kept"

 


WHAT I KEPT

by Kelly White Arnold                                                                                                          

(with gratitude to Jaki Shelton Green, who said, “What we keep, keeps us.”)


A pair of honest to God
blue suede wooden clogs,
a tiny chip of a diamond
set into a yellow and white gold band
two v-neck sweaters in navy and green,
one with a button missing on the cuff,
an eleven year old thank you note
signed “Love, Mom” in shaky penmanship,
a set of Michael C. Fina glasses
(that neither of us have ever used)
given for opening a bank account at First Union,
a red scarf,
thousands of yellowing photos,
edges curled by age,
the turquoise dress and
jacket set
you wore to my first wedding
(the knot that didn’t stay tied):
You, Mama,
tucked into drawers,
closets, and trunks,
hiding out in my attic,
in the set of my cheekbones,
alive in the bridge of my nose,
the name on my
baby’s birth certificate.


* * * * *

The quote in the attribution is used with Jaki Shelton Green's permission.

"What I Kept" was first published in WALTER Magazine (November 2023)

Kelly White Arnold is a mom, writer, high school English teacher, and lover of yoga. When she's not scribbling in notebooks or wrangling teenagers, she's planning her next tattoo and daydreaming about traveling the world. 


Thursday, May 23, 2024

 

This month, the 136th Moon Prize goes to Violeta Zlatareva's intriguing poem "Almost Fearless."

 


ALMOST FEARLESS

by Violeta Zlatareva


I'm not scared by the empty night streets,
or the coughing drunkard around the corner.
I have bitten hands,
to steal from the air;
I’ve been eaten by dogs,
while I was starving.
I'm not afraid to tear my shoes,
they used to be cheap and often tore.
My feet
breathed the night streets,
but I was afraid of no one.

Rabbit throats squealed bloodily
as I smiled and sang like a child.
I didn't weep for hugs so I wouldn't
end up at the sink next to their eyes.

Water in the cement, brick upon brick -
all existed in alignment.
Until you decided to unleash your hair.
Tie it up before I collapse.


* * * * *

Violeta Zlatareva was born in 1992 in Velingrad, Bulgaria. She is the author of Whale Academy, a collection of short stories published by Ars in 2021 and adapted and presented by the theater Via Verde. Her second book, Register Misfortunes, was released in September 2023. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and electronic media, as well as poetry collections and anthologies such as Flight, Magic in Green, Poetry Against the War, and others. She has received national and regional literary honors.


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mother Tells Me

by Eileen Patterson


It’s good you didn’t stay with that man.
She raises her bones and stands before me.
He would have left you crumbled like dry
toast, he would have left you thirsty for more
years, thirsty for words of love, desire, more of everything.
It’s good you lived without passion. Soon it will be over,
and you will no longer have the burn of what may have been.
Mother lowers herself down to the casket. Her bones creak
with regret and denial.


* * * * *

Eileen Patterson lives in in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Along with fellow poets she has read her poetry at the local library. Her work has appeared in Underwood, Bombfire, Medusa’s Kitchen and Darkwinter.




Tuesday, May 21, 2024

 

Dialysis

by Eileen Patterson


Mother the body you carry is worn out.
The dialysis washes away the waste, but you are weary
from all the years of life. T
he 16-year-old’s sweet dreams
turn bitter in your mouth.
This is not my life, not what I imagined.

You long for the afterlife taught to you as a child,
You believe in a heaven where bodies resurrect,
made whole again, where father might be if God
is as good as you think.
But God gave you stones, not jewels your entire life.


* * * * *

Eileen Patterson lives in in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Along with fellow poets she has read her poetry at the local library. Her work has appeared in Underwood, Bombfire, Medusa’s Kitchen and Darkwinter.



Monday, May 20, 2024

STEPMOM

by Malcolm Glass

           
My knock rattled the storm door. My ex-husband's new wife Joann appeared instantly, as though she had been at the window watching my son Trey and me coming up the walk. She was wearing my sweater. 
           
I wanted to say, That's my sweater, you know, but, of course, I didn't. I had to be civilized. Besides, it wasn't really my sweater; it was Kevin's, the one I had always worn around the house. I knew why she was wearing it. Kevin keeps the thermostat at sixty-four during the winter.

I said, "Sorry we're late. Rush hour traffic, you know."

"No worry," she said in her nouveau riche lilt. "The lamb roast won't be done 'til six-fifteen." Ah, yes, I thought. You're old school. The way to a man's heart and all that. Kevin will love it. You won’t hear whining about under-cooked baked potatoes or over-cooked salmon.

Joann pushed the door open. Trey, dear, how nice to see you."  

Trey turned and smiled at me, and we exchanged our secret flutter-blinks. Joann put her arm around Trey’s shoulder and pulled him to her.  

"I like your shirt, Trey," she said. 

He looked up and smiled politely. “Thank you, Joey.”

I wanted to tell her, His father won't. You'll see. Trey was wearing the gold-and-red- striped polo shirt I gave him on his birthday. Kevin had told me to take it to Good Will, but I didn’t. Trey wandered into the house in search of his father, who was hiding from me. 

"We'll see you Sunday, then?" She hiked the sweater sleeves up her arms. No need for Kevin to make snide comments about her weight. Or her hair either, thick natural blonde, longer than my mousy mop.

"That's right,” I said. “I'll be here at six."      

"Good," she said, "We'll take good care of Trey, don't worry."

 “I know you will.” I closed the storm door and waved goodbye.

As I got in the car, I took a deep breath, glad to be free of her little-girl whine. The car that reached the four-way right after I did leapt across the intersection, barely missing me. I hit the brakes and the horn, rocked to a stop, and smacked the steering wheel with the palm of my hand.

“Damn idiot!”

I eased on through the intersection as the woman on my right gave me a friendly wave and mouthed sorry. How refreshing. A person with some empathy, a rarity in a world of the self-absorbed and self-satisfied. Like Joann. She seems so happy with herself, secure in her new life, with a sweet boy for a son.

Why was I angry at this woman? What had she ever done to me? She hadn't stolen my husband. He was hers for the taking. And she hadn't broken my home. I had done that myself. I had to get out. I was tired of not being good enough, of failing to be the trophy wife Kevin wanted. After I left, she came along and picked up the pieces. 

 Jo Ann would be good to Trey, I knew. And that was the heart of my anger, my resentment. She would care for my son and help Kevin, with his fat salary, spoil him. I would end up the weekend mom, the here-again-there-again mom, the real step-mom.     


* * * * *

"Stepmom" will be in Malcolm Glass's next collection, Her Infinite Variety, to be published by Finishing Line Press in 2025.


Sunday, May 19, 2024

 

Crossing Illegally from Germany into Germany

by Rose Mary Boehm


At seven I walked that long road
past farmer Bauer’s geese, left at the church,
left again at the brook, over the small bridge,
past the school caretaker with his scary grin
to take my seat
with the local kids.
I, the refugee.
I, the one with the strange accent.
‘Heil Hitler’!

My teacher had hairy legs
and big calf muscles that went in and out,
up and down as she biked along the school path.
I stared.

Under the bridge, by the brook,
I found my friend the frog and stroked
his slimy head, his whole little body seeming
to breathe in and out fast and in panic,
but it stayed, hypnotized
by my gentle finger.

The cockerel waited by the shed. I tucked him
in under the tiny blanket of my dolls’ pram.
I covered his comb with a little blue hat
my mother had crocheted
for my doll,
his wattles fell to one side,
his protective membrane closed.

The street names changed
to Marx, Engels, Lenin…
I received the coveted blue scarf,
became a Young Pioneer.
The teacher with the big, yellow teeth
taught me Russian.
Mother decided that this was enough.


In the train chugging towards the border
my attention was on Mother,
I looked at my brother.
In the wooded copse I rested my head
on the backpack I’d dropped
onto a patch of woodruff.
It also smelled of ceps.
I thought of Grandpa.
I sensed danger when Mother said
to wait for darkness.

The soldiers unfolded from the night,
standing on the higher ground, silhouetted against
the starry night sky.
The clicks of their safety catches.
Even though my brother had finally
given me his Teddy, I peed myself.


* * * * *

"Crossing Illegally from Germany into Germany" was first published in Rose Mary Boehm's collection Life Stuff (Kelsay November 2023)

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as eight poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was three times nominated for a Pushcart and once for Best of Net. Do Oceans Have Underwater Borders? (Kelsay Books, July 2022), Whistling in the Dark (Cyberwit, July 2022), and Saudade (December 2022) are available on Amazon. Also available on Amazon is a new collection, Life Stuff, published by Kelsay Books November 2023. https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/


Saturday, May 18, 2024

 

After the Bad Cancer Diagnosis

by Karen Friedland


I’ve decided, herewith,
that I am on vacation
every day
for the rest of my days—
even when I have work to do,
even when I need to get paid.

Because truly,
each tree-breeze,
each bird-trill,
each dog-sigh

is unique and thrilling
and must be savored—
every cloud and each tree
a masterpiece.

So I’m pleased to announce that I’m on vacation
indefinitely—
alive, if inert,

bewitched by trees
on a hot summer’s day.



* * * * *

Once a grant writer by trade, Karen Friedland had poetry published in the Lily Poetry Review, Nixes Mate Review, One Art, and others. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her books are Places That Are Gone and Tales from the Teacup Palace. Karen lived in Boston with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2021, two days before her 58th birthday, and died on April 14, 2024.