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Bodega Bay
by Sheila Sondik

The dunes changed shape every year
and every year the change surprised us.
We flew kites, snapped bull kelp like whips.
The giant shrub ate our shuttlecocks and wiffle balls.

We found an LP of Just So Stories in a closet
and played it for our daughters.
The great, gray-green, greasy Limpopo River,
all set about with fever-trees…

We’d sit in the tiny, whitewashed porch,
and watch the broad creek riffle in the breeze.
Only here, we indulged in saltwater
taffy and 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles.

Great blue herons stalked Salmon Creek
while ospreys dive-bombed for their dinner.

Next door, a mysterious round structure
gave off a counterculture scent.
Lines of pelicans back from the brink
coasted over the surly gray-green Pacific.

Farther up the dunes, I poured sand
from plastic bucket to sandmill
and watched the spinning paddlewheel
with a dumb joy I still can’t fathom.

Previously published in Williwaw Journal Issue 3 (Spring, 2018).

PAINTING: Bodega Bay by ClaudiaSavageArt. Prints available at etsy.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheila Sondik is a poet and printmaker in Bellingham, Washington. Her poetry has appeared in CALYX, Kettle Blue Review, The Raven Chronicles, Floating Bridge Review, frogpond, and many other journals. She has degrees from Harvard College and California College of the Arts. Egress Studio Press published her chapbook Fishing a Familiar Pond: Found Poetry from The Yearling in 2013. Her artwork and links to her poetry are available at sheilasondik.com

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A Bee Will Visit 5,000 Flowers a Day
by Ranney Campbell

that sweet year’s rare drench stirred
tiny bright yellow petals so delicate
not the color
               named for, wild mustard,

and sticky invasive cane tangled
every bit of hills devoid defense
natural enemies and bees followed

come
to collect pollen and lie on my back
on granite, inundated in ten-thousand

buzzes unlike another experience
ever in my head vibrating a magnetic
moment
                 in knowing they might
over and over
with home all those miles away
had gone alone so far
                                    off trail

swelled between stems whirling
                         the air black slashed
yellow
core droned

                              eyes closed

they would know I meant no harm

or that at least whatever inflicted
would leave me
with just a number of red welts
of venom
that soon enough would settle

PHOTO: Bee on wild mustard by Igor Batanev.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ranney Campbell is from St. Louis, Missouri, but lives in Southern California. Her chapbook, Pimp, is published by Arroyo Seco Press, and other work has appeared in Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Hummingbird: Magazine of the Short Poem, Third Wednesday, Eastern Iowa Review, ONE ART, Storm Cellar (forthcoming), and elsewhere.

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Piano
by Anita Howard

In the early days
before forced marching took over,
they brought me to see
the place where I would go to school.

I stood on a polished, wooden floor
and was shown the piano,
the mechanism of music without choice.

A white-headed woman,
her kind smile not to be our fate,
turned upon a padded stool
and shimmered the heavy keys
to emit a few juddering notes.

“It sounds like a lioness,” I said,
my thoughts back to the zoo,
and the laughter nearly knocked me down.
No harm to find my roar
before the place revealed its demons.

©Anita Howard

PHOTO: Two lionesses (Chobe National Park, Botswana, 2017). Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem was inspired by an early memory of childhood.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Howard is a writer, storyteller, and actor living in Passage West, County Cork, Ireland. Her work has appeared in HeadStuff, Poetica Review, Bluepepper, JA Books Magazine, Written Tales, and the Don’t Get Caught! anthology by Write In 4 Charity, Leicester, as well as the Zooanthology by Sweetycat Press and the Querencia Fall 22 Anthology. She is on Twitter as @AnitaHowardSto1.

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Growing Faster Than Swamp Bamboo,
My Mother Liked to Say
by Jackie Craven

August turned our lake into a gloomy puddle
where minnows sank from the weight
of their own bodies and grownup voices
drifted on smoke from sad little charcoal fires
which made me wish for a cigarette—
a cloud of sin I could hold in my lungs
and no one would guess the darkness
inside me—or a secret tattoo
like a dragonfly or a message written in code—
impossible to decipher as I waded into the deepest
green. The water used to reach my chin but now
my legs were so much longer—
Even out by the rusty buoy
my feet touched bottom and mud pushed
between my toes. Above the din of lovelorn frogs
I heard her call and call.

Previously published in Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters by Jackie Craven, Brick Road Poetry Press, 2018.

IMAGE: Bamboo with leaves (watercolor) by Olga Tarakanova.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the summer months, my family used to go camping at Lake Sherando in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Oh, the frogs and minnows, so fat and easy to catch. Oh, the nights lit by campfires and fireflies. As I entered my teens, the enchantment mingled with a desperate need for detachment . . . and a longing to hold on.

PHOTO: The author, age 11, at Lake Sherando (Virginia).

Author Jackie Craven in red turtleneck shirt and dark red glasses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jackie Craven has recent poems in AGNI, The Massachusetts Review, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, River Styx, and other journals and anthologies. She’s the author of Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2018) and two chapbooks, Cyborg Sister (Headmistress Press, 2022) and  Our Lives Became Unmanageable (Omnidawn, 2016), winner of the Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Award. After earning a Doctor of Arts in Writing from the University at Albany, New York, she worked for many years as a journalist covering architecture, visual art, and travel. Find her at JackieCraven.com.

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Berry Treasures
by Laura Daniels

I walked across six open acres into the dark woods
wearing an old white navy cap,
brim down to shade my smiling face.

Finally reached the place where
blackberries and raspberries grew wild,
sweet-tartness tingled my tongue in anticipation.

On the return trip, I used the cap to carry the treasures
stained the inside with released red-purple juices,
the walk back was not easy.

Would they make it back for pie baking?
Would they make it back?
Would they?

Probably not.

PHOTO: Blackberry bush by Deviddo.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was created from my memory of spending the summer at my sister’s farm in Wisconsin during the 1970s. She sent me into the woods behind her home to gather wild berries for a pie she planned to bake. I found the spot and collected the berries, but not many made their way back to the house. I couldn’t resist their refreshing taste.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Daniels is a prolific writer for adults and children, and founder of the Facebook blog The Fringe 999  which publishes creative endeavors daily. Published in the Visible Ink 2021/2022 Anthology and New Jersey Bards Poetry Review 2022, she is an active member of Women Who Write. She lives with her family in Mount Arlington, New Jersey.

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Friday Night Lights
by Terri Kirby Erickson

Imagine a family of four—young parents
too beautiful to be real taking their three
and four-year-old son and daughter out for
a Friday night treat. Yet, here are our mother
and father, alive and well, sitting side by
side in the front seat of Dad’s ’58 Rambler—
our mom’s auburn hair grazing her tanned
shoulders, our father’s profile as smooth
as a freshly ironed shirt. Parked across the
street from the Whitaker Park fountains,
we are waiting for the sun to go down while
we eat ice cream cones Dad bought for us
from the Sealtest store (on the corner of
Patterson and Glenn). But nothing tops the
delight of watching water spurt from what
looks like a mile of multiple nozzles, and
the kaleidoscope of brightly colored lights
that shine on each fountain, turning them
every shade of Kool-Aide we have ever
tasted. It is a dazzling show—made even
better for a small girl by a belly half-full
of chocolate swirl, the night air, cool and
sweet, pouring into our rolled-down win-
dows, and the presence of my brother and
my parents—the three of them so close to
the end of this poem, they are nearly gone.

PHOTO: Whitaker Park fountains (Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1960s).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Although my beloved nuclear family lives only in my memory, writing about them allows me to be with them again in the only way I can and in so doing, will hopefully inspire recollections of good times with “lost” loved ones for readers, as well.

PHOTO: The author’s parents. Tom and Loretta Kirby (1955), who married when they were 18 and 21.

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CAPTION: The author and her brother, Tommy (1964).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six full-length collections of poems, including A Sun Inside My Chest (Press 53), winner of an International Book Award for Poetry. Other awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, Nautilus Silver Book Award, and many more. Her poems have appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Connotation Press, JAMA, Plainsongs, Poet’s Market, storySouth, The Christian Century, The SUN, The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and numerous other literary journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Visit her at  terrikirbyerickson.com.

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Cleaning Miller Pond
by Merrill Oliver Douglas

Puzzle: how to nudge this boat
among trailing vines and branches,
squeeze through the one bare space,
poke the reeds with the paddle
and pluck out the Coke can?

Then figure the best wrist action
for flipping a taco wrapper
from beneath the snarl of algae
that streams off the paddle
like hair from a corpse.

The bag between my knees
grows lumpy with Styrofoam
bait buckets, beer cans, a slack-faced
soccer ball, glass and plastic
bottles sloshing grainy water.

Puzzle: why is the world so filled
with slobs? And why,
on a mild spring morning
in downtown Elmira,
does all this garbage
beckon like carnival prizes?

Originally published in Eunoia Review (January 27, 2016).

Photo by Gorlov.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after helping to pick trash out of three ponds in Elmira, New York, during a volunteer cleanup event. I was in my kayak, out with friends on a lovely day, poking around at the edges of things, enjoying the trees and water weeds and doing my small part to leave the place better than we’d found it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Merrill Oliver Douglas is the author of the poetry chapbook Parking Meters into Mermaids (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Baltimore Review, Barrow Street, Tar River Poetry, Stone Canoe, Little Patuxent Review, and Whale Road Review, among others. She lives near Binghamton, New York.

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Corn on the Cob
by Linda McCauley Freeman

An emblem of summer, a day
when my dad, a white chef hat jaunty on his head,
hauled out the greasy grill and dumped in charcoal
from the big bag he kept in the garage,
the same charcoal he liked to put in our Christmas stockings
long after the joke wore off.

But in summer, he’d say, “Stand back!” douse
them with lighter fluid, strike a match, as
my brothers and I jumped breathlessly
at the poof of flames that singed our eyelashes,
for we were never far enough and eyeball level
with the grill, and my mom
would bring out a tray of raw meat
she’d pounded into patties and my sister
trailing her with lemonade and then
we’d all sit together husking the corn,
revealing the bright yellow kernels,
peeling the silk strings of summer.

Photo by Anna Cherepanova. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda McCauley Freeman is the author of the full-length poetry collection The Family Plot (Backroom Window Press, 2022) and has been widely published in international journals, including in a Chinese translation. In 2022, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Recently, she was the featured poet in The Poet Magazine, and appeared in Delta Poetry ReviewAmsterdam Quarterly, and won Grand Prize in StoriArts’ Maya Angelou poetry contest. The recipient of a grant from Arts MidHudson, she was selected for Poets Respond to Art 2020, 2021, and 2022 shows. A three-time winner in the Talespinners Short Story contest judged by Michael Korda, she has an MFA from Bennington College and is the former poet-in-residence of the Putnam Arts Council. She lives in the Hudson Valley, New York. Visit her at  LindaMcCauleyFreeman.com for upcoming events and follow her on Twitter@LindaMccFreeman and Facebook@LindaMcCauleyFreeman. Family Plot is available on Amazon.

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Rehoboth Beach
by Beverly M. Collins

Sand crabs tried to hide themselves
from capture in the palm of my hand.
Like all of us, they carried home on their back.
The splash sounds of the ocean mixed well
with the welcome smell of salt water.
My sisters and cousins laughed at each
other’s newness-reactions.
Awkward is fun when you love who
you laugh at, the humor felt like safety.
Sand and water gave in to our imaginations.
We buried our pirate uncle up to his chest as
a joint project and worked together to build a
sand castle that the evening tide quickly
washed away. Joy was simple as sunset, sand,
breeze with more sunset, sand and breeze.

IMAGE: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, beach scene, available at Lantern Press.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For this particular poem, I wanted to recall my deeper memories of our extended family’s time at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when I was a child. I was born in Delaware and raised in New Jersey. Some of my fondest childhood memories were our visits in the summer with our family members that were still located there. I wanted to include the sights, feelings, sounds, and smells that impressed me most at that time. This was one of my favorite beaches in Delaware.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Beverly M. Collins is author of the books Quiet Observations: Diary Thought, Whimsy and Rhyme and Mud in Magic. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications based in USA, England, Ireland, Australia, India, Germany, and Canada both in print and online. Winner of a 2019 Naji Naaman Literary prize in Creativity (Lebanon), she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and is a prize winner for the California State Poetry Society. Born in Delaware and raised in New Jersey (USA), her photography can be found on Fine Art America products, Shutterstock, iStock/Getty images, Adobe Stock, and other sites. Visit her at beverlym-collins.pixels.com, and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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A Day’s Journey, Thanksgiving 1960
by Jone Rush MacCulloch

Dad shines the 1958 Gold Chevy and fills it with gas
Mom ushers us into the car, brother behind Dad,
me behind her, my fingers petting the interior cloth
fuzzy like my stuffed bear of the same color.

Mom lights a cigarette; this is the sign
our trip will be longer than to the grocery store.
A few puffs and she hands it to Dad.
Brother starts a foot fight with me. He doesn’t win.

After the palm tree lined streets of Rancho Cucamonga
the road turns into a snake winding through
San Bernardino Mountain Pass, the up and down
makes my stomach feel like a roller coaster.

I need to go potty. Dad raises his eyebrows
in the rearview mirror, slows and pulls over.
The car door provides little privacy
as vehicles whoosh by in a hurry.

The dustiness of sage takes over
the acrid tobacco smell. The spiky heads
of Joshua trees appear, signaling
we are almost there, the “white castle.”

The car slows turning onto the gravel driveway,
eucalyptus and castor trees nod welcome.
Uncle lumbers out to greet us with hugs.
Auntie is busy ricing the potatoes.

Bone china and good silver grace the table.
The blessing said as the mantle clock chimes.
The grownups catch up. I ask for a second helping
of cauliflower-bleu-cheese-tomato casserole.

After dinner, after pumpkin pie, and clearing the dishes,
I rock back and forth on the porch swing. Brother looks for lizards.
Soon we pile into the car, and wave goodbyes
until the starlit fairy lights debut on the black damask sky.

© 2022 Jone Rush Macculloch

ARTWORK: “Visiting the Relatives” by Jone  Rush MacCulloch (mixed media: family photos, collage, painted papers, and paint).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My great aunt and uncle lived with their daughter in the high desert of California. Our holidays consisted of them coming to us or us traveling to them as my grandmothers and other cousins lived on the East Coast. I loved the “white castle” house that really was a just masonry building common for the area. Memory is funny.  In my mind’s eye of memory, they had eucalyptus trees and castor bean trees but were they? Visiting my extended family was always a treat (especially the cauliflower-bleu-cheese-tomato soup casserole, a Thanksgiving must-have this dish — my brother would disagree, though).

PHOTO: The house where the author and her family enjoyed Thanksgiving Day in the California desert.

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RECIPE FOR CAULIFLOWER-BLEU-CHEESE-TOMATO CASSEROLE

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a guess-and-by-golly recipe. I only have the ingredients, not exact amounts. My great aunt never had a recipe written down.

Ingredients:
1 Cauliflower head
1 Can of tomato soup
1 Can of water
About 8 ounces of bleu cheese, or to taste

Directions
1) Set oven at 350 degrees.
2) Steam the cauliflower until almost tender.
3) Drain cauliflower and put into a casserole dish.
4) Sprinkle in the bleu cheese.
5) Mix together the soup and water. Pour over the cauliflower and bleu cheese.
6) Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until the soup and cheese are bubbly.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jone Rush MacCulloch’s poems have been included in several children’s collections such as Imperfect II (History House Publishers, 2022), Things We Do (Pomelo Books, 2021), Hop To It (Pomelo Books 2020) — winner of the Kids’ Book Choice Award for Best Books of Facts. Her haiku and photography are also found in New Bridges: a haiku anthology edited by Jacob Slazer. She’s  been published in the Haiku Society of America’s publications, VoiceCatcher, as well as The Poeming Pigeon. In August 2022, she won two awards for poetry at the Oregon State Fair. She still loves traveling the world, most recently to Ireland and Scotland. When not writing, you can find her reading, creating mixed media, or with her camera in hand. Visit her at jonerushmacculloch.com.