The Dog Takes it All in Stride, but the Cat’s Gone into Hiding
My husband unleashes beasts at our house,
not just Bottom with his ass’s head escaped from a dream,
but pot-bellied demons from Japan and a coiled ghost
with a girl’s face, her scales blue and white in moonlight.
A lion lounges in a sunny spot in the back bedroom.
Ever watchful, he yawns whenever I pass the door.
His companion, the unicorn, needed some air and now nibbles
pink double hibiscus, while bunnies munch on the lawn.
The dragon scorches the concrete garden wall when he snores,
but he fits tidily in a corner under the Cecile Brunner rose.
On the other hand, the phoenix, perched amid the orange blossoms,
cannot help but set the whole place ablaze when his time comes.
I carry my morning tea and toast through the dining room
where a satyr pulls petals from my birthday bouquet and stuffs them
into his mouth, preferring daisies to the carnations with their scent.
I understand why he avoids bathing, all that curly hair in tangles.
But he reeks of old booze and rotten meat, and his ears need cleaning.
The Minotaur keeps me company while I write at the patio table.
He’s grown too old for his storied appetites, and I’m no longer driven
by a hunger for words that filled this house with books.
When the Santa Ana winds pick up, I anchor my paper with flatware
and turn the notebook so the sun can’t reach the pages.
Better to work out here, knowing that the maw of the gates of hell,
with its jagged teeth of a cat, waits at the back of the coat closet.
Trina Gaynon‘s poems appear in Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, and Mizmor Anthology, and recently in the journals Buddhist Poetry Review, Essential, and 45th Parallel. Her chapbook An Alphabet of Romance is available from Finishing Line Press. She currently leads a group of poetry readers at the Senior Studies Institute in Portland and participates in the Ars Poetica community.
Love Poem to the Number Seven
It’s always been lucky for me:
seventh heaven, seven on the die,
seven seas, seven days in a week.
Well lucky for someone, that is.
And I’ve been looking for a situation
where life is pure calculation.
Twice something really is twice as good.
Three’s a crowd
when only a crowd will do.
I’m alone, as always.
but what begins as a 1
soon bends its back,
elongates into a number
the Christian sacraments
likewise the sorrows
and the Catholic feasts.
I could live forever counting dwarfs.
priests and trumpets
at Jericho’s walls.
angels, plagues and thunders.
I’d even give those sins
a run for their evil money.
My seven is a prime number.
isolated and virgin.
It’s the day of my withdrawal from the world.
Alone with my seven,
it’s comforting to know that, at least one of us.
vibrates to the inner rhythms of the universe.
And it’s on a page.
I’m the only one who’s trembling here.
Has to be one in all this waiting
for the votes to be counted,
for the silver-tongued pundits
to share their predictions.
Please, let the silver-spoon president
go back to his silver screen.
I’ll give you a silver dollar
for each day the states count their ballots.
I want each one carefully touched,
blessed, lovingly caressed.
I know, in the end, no silver bullet,
just our hearts breaking open,
finding solace in the fog’s
silver-edged sky. We know how
to get through this, how to focus
on the horizon, and as the silver mist
rises, to once again cling to hope
which pulls us like a rope to shore.
Suzy Harris lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared most recently in Clackamas Literary Review and Williwaw and are forthcoming in Rain and Switchgrass Review. She is working on a chapbook about becoming deaf and learning to hear with a cochlear implant. She wrote this poem after reading Parker Palmer’s Healing the Heart of Democracy and while waiting for Biden’s victory to be announced.
Hillside in Negative
The testament of Sierra oaks is distance. Limbs clutch sky
but trunks sequester. Tap roots wrench through dirt
to bedrock. Others crisscross blind but sure in dappled light.
Strangled silence, omertà, born of ancient necessity,
rules above cracked earth, but tunneling secrets linger.
Listen—just by that pedestal
where scarred black bark meets soil. Mute thoughts
burl too slow for words. Something older than ears
resonates, but it takes more time than you’ll have.
Richard Manly Heiman lives in the pines on the slope of the Sierra Nevada. He works as an English teacher and writes when the kids are at recess. Richard has been published by Rattle, Vestal Review, Sonic Boom, Spiritus (Johns Hopkins U.), and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from Lindenwood U. and is a two time Pushcart Prize nominee. His URL is poetrick.com.
Rules of the hard road
A tortoise shell works against most predators,
but there is always that one mistake:
crossing the road and the rumble
of a four-wheel drive pickup truck.
Why a turtle would listen to a chicken
and attempt to cross the road I don’t know.
Late summer and caterpillars lemming on the blacktop,
and there is always that arrogant raccoon or dufus opossum.
Only a deer has any chance, able to leap in a single bound,
but often they lose the sucker’s bet.
But so does the brandy old-fashioned driver and his crumpled truck.
Survival of the fittest must include random selection.
Why this and why that a calculus with variables and unknowns.
Here’s the problem: the pavement feels warm in the sun
and the opposite side of the road beckons like a lighthouse.
Luck dresses up as the solution.
Fog swallows the lake,
I glide into the damp.
Thrust sightless in the dew cloud.
Pull the oars against the shivers
of the water’s ripples.
No echo moves.
The boat weightless,
the water sighs.
The placental fog
feeds and protects me.
I metamorphose in the cocoon.
My breath ticks. Hypnotic.
The sound a shroud
I swaddle in. Faith I will not
burst upon the unseen.
Cut my umbilical connection
to the aloneness.
The singular sweet taste,
being hidden from the shore
that cannot touch me.
Doug Van Hooser calls southern Wisconsin home and Chicago theater in the non-Covid world. His poetry has appeared in Roanoke Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, After Hours, and Poetry Quarterly among other publications. His fiction can be found in a number of journals and his plays have received readings at Chicago Dramatist Theatre and Three Cat Productions. More at dougvanhooser.com