Archives for category: ONE GOOD MEMORY

sycamore leaf Rich Herrmann
Mill Creek Hike During Covid-19
by Tina Hacker

A sycamore leaf. One leaf. But large
as a dinner plate, falls
right at my feet in early October
before the wetlands trail
turns into wallpaper patterns
of locust, oak, maple.
I stop, pick it up. This is new to me
or seems new after weeks in lockdown.

Swarms of marsh cattails line the route.
Their tall slender stakes sway
at the whims of autumn winds,
eclipsing smaller scrambles of prairie grass.
Algae spreads over a pond like a ‘50s
poodle skirt, wide swaths of green, smooth as felt
with a blue heron replacing the iconic symbol.

Walking through a tunnel, I am pressed
into a crouch when a train passes overhead.
Fun! I decide to wait for another train
then stroll until late afternoon shadows remind me
of the dark time I am traveling through.
But for a couple of hours on this lowland journey,
nothing more dangerous than a leaf.

First published in the Mockingheart Review (2021). 

PHOTO: Sycamore Leaf by Rich Herrmann,

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem reflects true events. My husband helped me identify the sycamore leaf and other plants we encountered throughout our hike. I scribbled down notes from our first steps till our last steps on the trail.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker, a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, was a finalist in New Letters and George F. Wedge competitions and named Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Whirlybird Anthology of Kansas City Writers, San Pedro River Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Fib Review, and I-70 Review.  Her two poetry collections, Listening to Night Whistles and Cutting It, have been joined by a new collection titled GOLEMS  (Kelsay Books).

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Brother
by Mary McCarthy

I found you one day
at my kitchen door
holding the wild turkey
you’d shot that morning.
The fall of soft bronze
and brown feathers
all silk and spike
feet gnarled, long neck
hanging down, almost
like the live ones did
when my dog chased them
up into the tulip tree,
flying that creaking clumsy
way they have, to sit
on the high branches
and drop their heads down
to mock the dog’s frantic
fuss-barking up at them
so far out of reach.

You loved all things wild
and hard to find
would go into the woods
alone, just to be there
breathing in the air
trees breathed out
moving so soft and quiet
you almost faded
into the brown green
must of the thick-
leaved forest floor
felt more at home there
than behind walls and windows,
grounded in the silence
listening for every hush and rustle
of the wild lives all around you.

After the admirations
and congratulations
we asked you to stay and eat—
less shy than usual,
in the flush of your success
you stayed, and it was good
to be around that table
warming ourselves
with talk and stories
as though gathered
around a campfire,
our circle a room
without walls or roof
an oasis of comfort
inside the falling dark.

That memory remains
untarnished, a golden hour
before we knew the thief
that would take you
was already there, too deep
to be uprooted, in blood and
lung and bone, stronger
than anything we would beg
or pray or do or bargain for
to save you.

PHOTO: Wild Turkey Feather by Josch 13.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a memory of my younger brother, who did appear on my doorstep, excited and happy to have harvested his first wild turkey, He stayed for supper and it was a good time, one of the last before his diagnosis of widely metastasized lung cancer, the disease that would inexorably take his life over the following 10 months, He was 39, and on the brink of his greatest romantic relationship, had just purchased his first home. He was a remarkable artist, a kind and patient person. He suffered without complaint or losing hope. Even the best memories are shadowed by the knowledge of what was to come.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired R.N. who has always loved words and writing. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, most recently in The Ekphrastic World (edited by Lorette Luzajic), The Plague Papers (edited by Robbi Nester), and in recent issues of Earth’s Daughters, Third Wednesday, Gyroscope, and Verse Virtual. She has been a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee.

epitavi
Good Memory
by Donna Best

Our days were full of fizz and mint
not hunched over and grizzled.
We poured highballs in summer heat
slipped and slept through it
and desire sighed a lilt, not dull
nor offensively brilliant, until

my love’s arm rounded me from behind
and locked on my waist. His nose had
drunk the pungent sizzle of onion and garlic.
His hand took the chopping knife from mine
and I turned, cajoled by the riff
deep in his spirit’s beat.

The aroma afloat tapped into his feet.
As one, we crossed the kitchen floor.
As one, joy followed along. We shared
a paso moment, embraced the sizzle,
the quick, leaned back, stepped forward,
shifted bodies, twisted torsos,

drove elbows upwards and danced, danced,
danced our summer doble, spiced by
the waft, the tone poem flirting.
His face, his body captured the buzz.
His affinity with onion and garlic roux
always fast paced his emotion’s notes.

I still think about his bounce, acceleration
and high kicks released, not by chocolate,
oysters or figs but switched on by onions and
garlic cooking, sucking him into the kitchen,
whirling us as if Dervishes. Our feet
danced, danced, danced.

Some nights, we circled and circled,
not a question spoken, no reminders called.
Some nights, this is the best part,
our bodies heaved against each other.
We were not rich, not young but old enough
to know even summer can’t last.

Photo by Epitavi. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Good Memory” is based on my real-life experience. The memory of it always brings on a smile in my mind and takes me to a happy place.

Best copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Best writes to share how yesterday affects today, aspirations for tomorrow, the bravery of others and what we have in common across the globe. She has published in anthologies, newspapers, journals such as Better Than Starbucks and Woolgathering Review and been broadcast on local radio stations.

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Kodak: Carnival at Veterans’ Park, Ann Arbor, May 1961
by Cheryl Caesar

The ballerina lights
on her partner’s shoulder.
A butterfly. Her arms lift
like the flexing of wings.

Despite the pose and the tutu,
my father and I are nothing like that.

My two-year-old arms lift
like a saguaro with fists.
My father grips my thigh
to his shoulder.

My face is screwed up
like a fist — laughing, I believe.
His is clenched against his smoke,
turned away so as not to scorch my skirts.
But he might have been smiling too.

I think he was proud
to offer this treat to his family,
although I never really cared
for forced vertigo. This shoulder perch
was better than any Ferris wheel
or Tilt-a-Whirl.

All I ever wanted to ask of him
was to give up the cigarettes.
I never could. It seemed as though
they were all that he had.

Within a few years I would disappear
from family pictures, insufficiently
photogenic. My mother would play
ballerina for the lens. But I’m thankful
to have this snapshot. Look closely.
Lend me your eyes.
Wouldn’t you say we were happy?

ART: Cele Carnival by Yaacov Agam.

caesar drawing
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came out of a writing workshop in which we created poems from a photograph. I also made the above sketch of the photo, in compressed charcoal. The poem and sketch were published in Poetic Sun (October 2021).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Caesar is an ex-expatriate who for 25 years lived in Paris, Tuscany, and Sligo (Republic of Ireland). She earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne, and now teaches writing at Michigan State University. Her chapbook Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era is available from Amazon, although she hopes it will soon be of historical interest only. You can find her poems and artwork in Words Across the Water, published by Fractal Edge Press. She enjoys poetry, painting and drawing, and speculating about nonhuman consciousness. Visit her at caesarc.msu.domains and on Facebook.

Author photo by The Poetry Room. 

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The Importance of Water
by Martin Willitts Jr

I carry water from the well in an old wooden bucket,
swinging loosely from a metal handle,
my face swimming on the water’s surface,
whooshing side to side
like I’m disagreeing with someone.
The slosh-spill water music ripples with light.

I hurry — not shilly-shally —
because grandmother is waiting up for me.

She needs me to fetch this water
to pour into her black kettle pot
from the American Revolution.

She places that huge pot
on the wood-burning Franklin pot-belly stove.

She will pour the near-hot water
on grandfather’s naked body in the wooden bathtub
because he was on the wrong side of a discussion
with a skunk, and stinks so bad,
God complains.

IMAGE: Skunk ceramic tile, available at esty.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Some of my poems could be considered memoirs, but I am also writing about a time period where some people still used well water, large pots in a fireplace, and wooden bath tubes. My Amish and Mennonite grandparents are a great source about that time period, farming the old way with hand plows, nature, sunrises and sunsets, working with animals, and their silent ways. They are also a great source for my more prayerful poems. This is one of my funny memories. I called it “close encounter with a skunk.” It reminds me that no matter how attentive we are to the land, the land has it own rules. Being ambushed by skunks is one of those hard-to-avoid rules.

Msrtin Willitts Jr

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr edits the Comstock Review. He has been nominated for 17 Pushcart and 14 Best of the Net awards. His awards include: Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, 2016; Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; and Editor’s Choice, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2020. His 25 chapbooks include the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections, including 2019 Blue Light Award The Temporary World.  His latest release is All Wars Are the Same War (FutureCycle Press, 2022). Find his books at Amazon.com.

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At Six
by Gail Sosinsky

Still the possessor
of two malicious tonsils,
I’d coughed awake,
stumbled to the bathroom,
desperate to clear
my snuffly head.
Returning through the kitchen,
Dad pulled out the hard-backed chair,
closed the enameled lid
on the old gas stove,
centered the hand towel
over the warm pilot light.
I collapsed against the rungs,
mouth breathing already,
when he brought out the Vick’s,
slathered my chest, shoulders, neck
and fitted the warm towel
against my congestion.
As the vapors wormed
their way through the mucus,
he rubbed my shoulders.
“Yeah, feels like hell,” he said,
without drama or lamentation,
standing at my back
until I could breathe,
the first time
among many.

IMAGE: Vintage ad for Vicks Vaporub.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was surprised by how hard it was to come up with a good memory when I first looked at the call for poems in the ONE GOOD MEMORY Series. Then I was surprised by how many good memories there were. It was a relief not to write from the anger, sorrow, and fear that seem to overwhelm me some days. Thank you for the reminder, and the permission, to look for and celebrate the good. I had a hard time deciding which of my memories to submit, but more than anyone else, my father always asked what I had written lately. Whether you use this poem or not, I thank you for prompting me to capture this memory of my dad.

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AB0UT THE AUTHOR: Mild-mannered office worker by day, dedicated writer on her own time, Gail Sosinsky grew up in a northern Wisconsin paper-mill town, which gives her a deep appreciation for nature and quirky characters. She’s held a variety of jobs, including teacher, copy editor, and polka band guitarist. She writes fiction, poetry, and the occasional play and song. Her work tends toward science fiction and fantasy, a side effect of the stacks of books she read as a kid. She has been published in Star*line, Eye to the Telescope, Mindfilights, Pure Slush, America West Airlines Magazine, and Sword and Sorceress XVI, among other venues. She lives with her aged, sweet-tempered mother and her less-predictably sweet-tempered cat, Nefertari.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Sosinsky Road is named for the farm where my dad grew up. It’s a short little two-lane on a ridge between Hillsboro and Wonewoc in southwestern Wisconsin. I still have relatives living there.

jungle book kipling
Readings
by Geetha Ravichandran

One summer
we managed to finish
a book together,
the boys and I—
The Jungle Book.

I practiced an ethereal patience
to hold them down
to words and sketches,
and wean them away
from their exploding world
of pixelated screens.

They lay on their stomachs
peered over my arm
interrupted often,
asked randomly after crows,
and held me to my promise
to let them go in half an hour.

For even school vacations
were crammed—Pokemon, cricket matches,
holiday homework,
TV shows, wrestling games…

But we carved that little time
to fall in love
with the jungle
and it’s creatures,
meet unlikely friends,
watch out for implacable foes.

Now, the memory of
that summer adventure survives,
in their loaded bookshelves…
“the bare necessities of life.”

IMAGE: Cover of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (Puffin Classics).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about the memory of raising two boys, to share with them the stories I loved, including that of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Their world had too many distractions, but it’s heartening that they have also grown up to love books. To quote (out of context) Baloo- the bear, a character in the story, the love of books is one of the “simple bare necessities of life!”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Geetha Ravichandran lives in Mumbai, India. She holds a full-time job and writes poetry on the go. Her recent work has been published in online journals including Borderless, Lothlorien Poetr,y and Verse Virtual and also included in several anthologies. Her first book of poems, Arjavam, was recently published by Red River. It is available on Amazon.

Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, PA.
i am brave
by Linda M. Crate

fishing through my mind for a good memory,
this one comes to mind: when marcie, alicia,
and i went to pittsburgh;

it was a fun day out in the sun celebrating
the birthdays of alicia and i—

i think my favorite part was the part that
scared me the most,
having a terrible fear of heights the incline
wasn’t the most comfortable of feats for me;

but i faced my fear and showed myself that
i could do difficult things—

sometimes you don’t know the power of
a moment
until it’s gone,

but i will never forget that despite my fear
i pressed on;

so whenever tells me i am a coward
or i am weak
i will steel myself with the knowledge that i am brave.

PHOTO: Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a funicular designed in 1870.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I read through the prompt of “one good memory,” and I thought surely there must be one good memory to think of. As I sat down to think about it, however, I found the process a little more difficult until I saw a picture of me with my friends standing at the top of the incline with the backdrop of Pittsburgh skyscrapers behind us. That was a really good, fun day and so I decided to immortalize that memory in this poem.

PHOTO: The author (center) with her best friend Alicia (left) and their friend Marcie (right). Taken July 2021 at the Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, PA.

Crate

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda M. Crate (she/her) is a Pennsylvanian writer whose poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has 11 published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press, June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon, January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017),  splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019), the samurai (Yellow Arrowing Publishing, October 2020), Follow the Black Raven (Alien Buddha Publishing, July 2021), Unleashing the Archers (Guerilla Genesis Press, August 2021), Hecate’s Child (Alien Buddha Publishing, November 2021) and fat & pretty (Dancing Girl Press, June 2022). She’s also written three micro-chapbooks: Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018), moon mother (Origami Poems Project, March 2020), and & so I believe (Origami Poems Project, April 2021). She is also the author of the novella Mates (Alien Buddha Publishing, March 2022).

Sandy Loxton
Living the Dream
by James Ross Kelly

I entered a fast-food restaurant,
My brand, where they will serve
Breakfast 24-7 & where I’ve never
Been sick afterwards, & this knowledge
Is valuable much like entering
An area in remote Indonesia & figuring out the
Friendly tribes & how to avoid the cannibals,
I & my wife walk up to the counter,
an affable Chicano dude
Takes my order, while giving others in the
Kitchen orders & I ask him how he is doing?
“Living the dream,” he says,
“Living the dream,” he repeats,
& I’ve been around the block & know
This is jail speak for doing the best you can, after you get out
“And you sir?” he asks.
“Wonderful!” I reply, “Wonderful!” I repeat.
I’ve been sitting in my backyard
Remembering this and taking in my
Flowering light lavender purple crepe myrtle,
with finches eating
Thistle seed from the hanging socks,
my wife has tied there,
In this twenty-foot tree the finches are hanging
Upside down on the sock like little yellow monkeys &
Loud red and orange Canna Lilies
in the corner of the yard and now bright
New Red Crepe myrtle, is coming in
beside the compost box, at breast height
Flowering for the first time deep purple red,
I am making small talk with my wife &
We are on a back deck under an umbrella
at 10 am drinking good coffee
& it will be 104 degrees today, but now it is so pleasant &
I am remembering this breakfast two weeks ago &
Thinking about “living the dream,” this gentleman
Had tattoos, and deep scars on his face
& forearms—clearly some of his dreams had been
Nightmares, & there was a humorous good-natured tone of
Sarcasm in his reply, yet
I am living the dream, while the poems
& stories come out & scream out sometimes
or sometimes softly, but I am finally living the dream
& with a small pension and social security
Becoming like a Guggenheim
I never applied for, nor even wanted to apply for,
& this notion of the artist’s life having to have
the day job, & wait,
I did both, I waited, did the bidding of others
for decades now I’m writing
& now I get to fish when I want
Drive this word processor all day
Or fifteen minutes if I want
& I am taking all this in and paying
Attention dutifully to what my wife is saying,
& then she leaves & more
Finches come, a beautiful small red
& blue grosbeak comes to the
Bird feeder & peeks around the foliage,
leaves, comes back leaves again
& comes back and feeds, then I notice robins
in the grape vines on the white picket
Fence & realize they are eating
our grapes that have just ripened, I yell
At them, my wife has come to find out what is going on &
I tell her about the grapes & we both go to inspect, &
Well, they have hammered all fifty or
sixty bunches of table grapes
That we were waiting to pick tomorrow,
my wife is mad
& I’m out on the other side
of the fence laughing at the birds & they picked
Clean clumps that were just yesterday
pumping up their white green
Sugary goodness & are now skeletons
beneath the yellowing leaves
I am living the dream & I too have scars to prove it,
I have escaped death by cancer, car wreck, & war
& like the sweet gone grapes
It is particularly good now this given life
& its mortal expanse &
Last year the neighbors picked the grapes
while we were on holiday—& I laughed about that too

PHOTO: Green bird with green grapes by Sandy Loxton.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem spilled out quite fast, then needed tending like grapes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Ross Kelly lives in Northern California, next to the Sacramento River. UnCollected Press published his first book of poetry, Black Ice & Fire. in 2021—a collection that includes “Living the Dream.” He has been a journalist for Gannet, a travel book editor, and has had a score of labor jobs—the in-between jobs you get from being an English major. While in college on the GI Bill, he started writing poetry and short stories in college, and during the 1980s gave occasional readings in the Pacific Northwest. He worked as an environmental writer for the US Forest Service in Oregon and Southeast Alaska, where he retired in 2012. Born in Kansas, he was a long-time resident of Southern Oregon where he grew up. Recent publications include Silver Birch Press (Los Angeles, California), Cargo Literary (Prince Edward Island, Canada), The Galway Review (Ireland), Rock and Sling (Spokane, Washington), Edify (Helena, Alabama), Flash Fiction (San Francisco), Rue Scribe (New Mexico), True Chili (New Mexico), The RawArt Review (Ellicott City, Maryland). and The Purpled Nail (New Mexico). And the Fires We Talked About, published by Uncollected Press in 2020, was his first book of fiction.

Mikhail Dudarev
Sunlight Seas
by Robert Walton

Ripple and surge
Across nylon walls,
And pine-shadow clouds
Drift there, too —
Swaying, soothing —
Just before I doze.
Both sons sleep already,
Free to slow down
In our tent’s dappled warmth,
Free from the cell phone scatter
Of young lives.
Just once
In this year of Covid
We share a nap
In Tuolumne.

PHOTO: Camp in the coniferous forest of the Yosemite National Park at night. Photo by Mikhail Dudarev.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I took my sons to the mountains, especially Yosemite’s mountains, to share beauty and adventure with them. We found more than I can ever say.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Walton retired from teaching after 36 years of service at San Lorenzo Middle School. He is a lifelong rock climber and mountaineer with ascents in Yosemite and Pinnacles National Park. He’s an experienced writer with published works, including historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy and poetry. Walton’s novel Dawn Drums won the 2014 New Mexico Book Awards Tony Hillerman Prize for best fiction. Sockdologizer,  his dramatization of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, won the Saturday Writers 2020 Everything Children contest. Most recently, his “Mansa Musa’s Wisdom” was published in Cricket Media’s February, 2022 issue of Spider magazine. Visit him at chaosgatebook.wordpress.com.

PHOTO: The author near the summit of Lembert Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (July, 2009).