Archives for posts with tag: writiers

If I Have To Leave One Night
by Cal Freeman

If I fall because a valve has given out
beneath poplar shadows near Ecorse Creek
or on a sidewalk in front of a cinderblock
tract house and you arrive too late
to save me, your dog stopping to sniff
the corpse with a detached curiosity before
you notice it, the clasp of your umbrella
jangling as you kneel to see that I am dead,
leave me lying with legs accordioned
beneath bony knees, face bluish,
lips belled around the beginnings
of a gasp or moan, and do not move me
until my wife comes to identify the body
and see me as I was at my last moment,
and step away for as long as that moment takes.
Leave her to me. She might want to press
my lips or pound my chest to see
if the heart sputters or grab my lapels
and shout that we both must have known
this was coming given the way I’ve lived
(your dog will whimper in the dark,
or my dead dog might whimper in the dark
to see me dead and hear my wife distraught)
or fold my arms across my chest and bury
her face in this old flannel shirt I wear
each time I walk into the night.

PHOTO: North branch of the Ecorse River, Wayne County, Michigan.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cal Freeman is the author of the book Brother of Leaving (Marick Press) and the chapbook Heard Among the Windbreak (Eyewear Publishing, London). His writing has appeared in many journals, including Commonweal, The Journal, The Cortland Review, Passages North, and Hippocampus. He is the recipient of the Howard P. Walsh Award for Literature, The Ariel Poetry Prize, and The Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes). He has also been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in poetry and creative nonfiction, as well as Best of the Net and Best American Poetry.

AUTHOR PHOTO: The author in Heather Lane Park, South Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

Silhouette of cycling on sunset background

Bumpy Rides
by Linda O’Connell

When Dad brought home a discarded two wheeler — the same color as my overprotective mother’s dark thoughts — I mounted the seat and squealed with delight.

Mom shouted, “No!”

Dad said, “Aw, let her go. She’s eight years old.” His hand steadied me down the block.

My knobby knees banged the handlebars with each pedal push. I tried hard to balance the inequities of my rotten life. When Dad turned loose, I crashed into the sweet-smelling honeysuckle, and cried and cried when he said, “Wish I’d found this two years ago when it would have fit you better.” He hauled it to the alley for the next junk picker to find for his kid.

Ten years later, I bought my own bike, zoomed off, hit a hurdle, flipped over the handlebars, knocked the diamond out of my wedding ring, the air out of me, and vowed never to ride again.

I broke my vows and remarried in middle age. My sweet baboo and I bought 10-speed bikes. I needed more padding on my gel seat, so I ripped open the seam on a toss pillow, slipped it over my seat, and away we rode, together, forever… down to the five mile trail. We huffed and puffed  back up hill, pulled into the driveway exhilarated, exhausted, and examined my seat to see why my hind end hurt.

A trail of snow white bits of stuffing dotted the neighborhood. In hindsight, I’d say that was the best bike ride of my life.

PHOTO: “Biking at Sunset” by yotrakbutda, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda O’Connell lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a multi-genre writer, on-line writing instructor, and former teacher whose 200+ poems, articles, and essays appear in regional, national, and international publications. In pedaling down Memory Lane, she realized provocative writing is like a skinned knee when you fall off your bike. The bumps and bruises disappear, but the memories remain.

Gold Medal Hair
by Stephanie Han

In 1976, beauty eludes.
Gold wire-rim glasses fastened with masking tape snipped and twisted by my father.
A toothy fence before the magic wand of wires.
Hair in need of a wash.
Height, a desperate illusion.

I flip pages of Mom’s Ladies Home Journal:
“Can this marriage be saved?”
How to deal with a diabetic, depressed,
overweight, underweight, alcoholic, unfaithful,
unemployed, drug-using husband.

How-to-handle a problem child, a child with cancer,
a child prodigy, a child with a birth defect,
a child with ESP powers, a bedwetting child.
Nothing about me: the average child.

Coupon-cutting, tall/short, wide-hipped/slim-hipped fashion tips, heroic pets, holiday diets.
A summer tale: centerfold romance rekindled/forbidden/almost-lost love.
A cabin on a lake that stills the sky.
I’ve never been to a cabin: I am 10 years old.

Hairstyles: The Dorothy Hamill Wedge!
Rich chestnut hair that fans as Dorothy
spins and twirls, a blur on black-and-white TV.

A hairstylist from church: My first trip
to a beauty parlor. I’m her first wedge.
Hair falls to the floor. Locks gone.
Free to be America’s sweetheart.
The will to beauty. I am ready for glory.

The next day at school I swing my head,
an American sweetheart with a Dorothy Hamill wedge.
The teacher compliments me.
The boys ignore me.
My second best friend says, you look like a boy.
My best friend says, don’t worry, hair grows.
My third best friend says, short hair is tomboyish and really good for sports, didn’t you sign up for softball team?

Gold medals are hard to win.

PHOTO: Nineteen-year-old Dorothy Hamill sporting her famous wedge haircut at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, where she won a gold medal for ice skating.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem inspired another one about my first perm. I tend to get new hairstyles during extreme times: personal turbulence or boredom.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Han is a fourth generation Korean American writer and the sole finalist for the 2015 AWP Grace Paley Fiction Prize. Her poetry, fiction, and literary criticism have been widely anthologized and she has published in journals including the Louisville Review, Kyoto Journal, Nimrod International Literary Journal, and others. Her short fiction collection is forthcoming in 2016. She resides in Honolulu, Hawaii.