Still Life With Fish
The people on the bus go up and down…
Those imagined myriad first choices:
astronaut, fireman, cowboy, hero.
A child’s view of infinite possibility.
So many corners to turn, paths to take.
The smiling illusions of Free Will.
And then arrives the Great Settling.
The dawning middle age of mediocrity.
A turnpike with only one terminal exit.
An awful Interstate leading to nowhere.
An exercise in the only ordinary.
The dominoes that tumble as they must.
A long swim through a drying swamp.
Apprehension and unhappiness.
Hoarded secret humiliations.
The unbeautiful bodies creaking.
A clamorous anticipation of pain.
Mostly misunderstood mysteries.
An emptiness that drives everything.
Not one life chosen from many offered,
but one life offered from none chosen.
A random smattering of lonely events.
Until fixed in its finally failed tableau,
a fish trapped in a dying mud puddle
with sad, shrunken boundaries,
with nowhere left to swim at all.
A single leaf
Survived the winter
Onto the bare branch
The heavy snows
And howling winds
Could not budge it
It remained resilient
It stood the test of time
Through many months
Trials and tribulations
Of the fierce season
Now spring is here
And the old must yield
To the green buds
Pushing from within
It could withstand
The harshest weather
But not the gentle
Nudging of new growth
Life goes in cycles
It cannot be stopped
The old must eventually
Make way for the new
About Chris Tabaka
Ann Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies.
At night when the sky stops breathing
And the birds are still
I feel you
Rippling through me
Planting seeds of Ah!
In every corner
And slowly slowly
You expand me
Envelope and lull me
Until the tight screws slacken
And clink like teeth extracted
As one by one
They fall away
Leaving a voice
Free to sing
and time dripped scalding
candle wax on bare bone
I held you close in memory
but like a poppy plucked
from its growing place you
slipped my grip and
vanished into a thousand shards
of regret and yet I
held tight staring
at embers so light they were
About Diana Devlin
I am a linguist and former teacher. Until October 2016, I taught in Glasgow but now devote all my time to writing and painting. My poetry has been published in an anthology of new writing but that was a long time ago and I am only now looking for publishing opportunities again. I am irrepressibly passionate about reading, my greatest love being French poetry of 19th-20th Century.
I Follow Maureen
It was the time of my Auntie Bee summers
I was small then
She had a parakeet that landed on my head
and a bathtub too
with water so deep!
and legs and claws!
Damn thing nearly chased me down the stairs!
She lived in slumbery Windsor Locks
where bugs hung-out in the haze
of teenage August
I played in the tall weeds
with a shoeless Italian boy
who ate tomatoes like apples
and cucumbers right off the vine!
He was dirty free and foreign!
We played— reckless, abandoned
behind the gas pump, under the tractor, in the barn
and through the endless fields
I didn’t know….
His name was Tony
I ate pizza with him—the first time
At Auntie Bee’s I had to go to bed at eight
but I could watch night flowers
bloom on wallpaper
She came in to say good night
slippered, shadowy, night dress slightly open
and I peeped her breasts!
like Tony’s cucumbers!
I had never seen my mother’s wonders….
Night spread its wings from the old fan—
a bird of tireless exhaustion
whipped, whipped, whipped to death in its cage
tic-tocking in time to a wind-up clock
stretched out on the whine
of the overland trucks
Route Five through the night of an open window
In the grape arbor below—
crickets crickets crickets
tremulous incessant—insides of a child
a summer child
not yet ready for the fall of answers
Auntie Bee had a daughter—Maureen
I followed her everywhere I could
I was small then–
do anything for a stick of Juicy Fruit
I followed Maureen through my dreams
of being sixteen
and woke to Peggy’s “Fever”
while she tied her sneakers
against the mattress by my head
I followed Maureen (in my mind)
tanned and bandanned
to work in the fields of shade tobacco
with all those Puerto Rican boys!
She knew where she was going!
I was small then
…do anything for a stick of gum
“Mauney! Mauney! Mauney!”
…through the goldenrod of roadside
through the smell of oil that damped the dust
I followed Maureen’s white shorts
and chestnut hair…to the corner store
I followed the way the boys smiled
the way the screen door slammed
on her bright behind
the way her lips taunted and took
the coke-bottle’s green
I followed Maureen
I swear, I tried for hours to get that right!
Must have been Peggy Lee’s “Fever”
Maureen ties her sneakers in my face
Flaunts her years above my head
She has that look—
“We kids don’t know nothin”
(Little turds” that we be)
through the goldenrod of roadside
“Fever— in the morning
Fever all through the night….”
About Liz Balise
Life— by the time I’m aware, it’s gone by me. I’ve read some important books. Music is sometimes more than I can bear. My favorites: the song of the wood thrush at dusk, the opus of the ocean before a storm, the way white pines mourn when the wind is right.
I am a long-time resident of Scranton, Pennsylvania who grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. My poetry has been published in the Mulberry Poets’ anthology, Palpable Clock, University of Scranton Press and in The Endless Mountain Review. I also wrote short stories and feature articles for ergo, a magazine of Prufrock’s Cafe. Chapter books (unpublished): Hey Kid!,1995; The Worship After, 2017