After we watch the video—
a possum pushing a skunk into the pond—
all three of us laugh until we snort.
Jack and Colleen stage reenactments.
I’m the skunk and you’re the possum.
No I’m the possum and you’re the skunk.
The couch is the bank of the pond.
The rug is the water.
The war between siblings ticks up a notch.
In the kitchen, knives pierce a wooden block,
ready at a moment’s notice.
I rush the knives to the basement—
hide all the weapons—swords
and cap guns, wooden arrows,
Nerf guns in every caliber—
Day-Glo orange tipped, green and navy,
pens, broken pencils, the stapler—
even cardboard is a threat.
There’s kicking and scratching,
snarling and weeping.
The skunk’s eye pits glow like swamp gas
the possum bares all fifty teeth
and rises up on its hind legs.
I crouch in the reeds by the pond.
Dale Champlin, an Oregon poet with an MFA in fine art, has poems in The Opiate, Timberline Review, Pif, and CatheXis. Her collections include: The Barbie Diaries, Callie Comes of Age, and Isadora. Medusa is her most recent as yet unpublished collection.
A Japanese woman separates her husband’s dirty clothes
from the rest of the family’s with a long chopstick
and flicks them into the washing machine.
Undershirt, cotton briefs, trousers—
all stinking of smoke and the perfume
of bar hostesses, who drape themselves
around salarymen, doped up like monkeys.
When she sees his clothes spinning
in the final rinse, she feels ecstatic.
Is this how an owl feels when it eats a snake?
In the next load their wash:
Kenji’s t-shirt with a paisley unicorn
Mariko’s school uniform
her own soy-splattered apron.
Listening to the slush of soil and sweat,
she feels the presence of river gods.
But who will erase the stains
on her white negligee?
She heaves the clean clothes into the dryer.
Yellows, reds, greens, blues—
a kaleidoscope of her days.
Soon she will fold them
into neat piles and tuck them
to their proper drawers.
How many owls can you fit inside
a cardboard box?
Will they look at each other
or just stare out at the darkness?
Margaret Chula has published fourteen collections of poetry including Firefly Lanterns: Twelve Years in Kyoto, which received an Honorable Mention in the Haiku Society of America 2021 Book Awards. Her poems explore the interconnectedness between our everyday lives and the natural world. A featured speaker and workshop leader at haiku conferences around the world, she has also served as president of the Tanka Society of America, Poet Laureate for Friends of Chamber Music, and is currently on the Advisory Board for the Center for Japanese Studies. She lives in Portland where she swims, gardens, hikes, and creates flower arrangements.
My wife sleeps around
in any room, under
lamp’s glare, in front
of TV’s blare, splayed
across a brown sofa
or in fetal curl
on pale beige cushions.
I doze in easy chairs,
follow old habits and sleep
in a bed too large.
Awake, we wander
most our rooms together,
separate only in the shadows
of our own dark dreams.
Richard Dinges, Jr. lives and works by a pond among trees and grassland, along with his wife, two dogs, three cats, and ten chickens. WINK, Green Hills Literary Lantern, SBLAAM, Roanoke Review, and Home Planet News most recently accepted his poems for their publications.
It’s the time of year that steals away slowly
as the red clay road, its banked tire treads,
spackled with crushed grass, trades rust for bone;
The air, blurred by heat, full of the blaze
of ephemeral wings, rises from earth.
Then comes a quickening, as the slip of sun
sinks into shadow, lengthens the poplar’s shade to touch the porch,
And slits of light trapped in arching arbors of ruddy foil
merge with the slurred grey of twilight.
Light empties itself in one last sigh
of blood-speckled orange,
And racing across the dying August fields,
black envelops the world.
Rachel Fogarty is a freelance musician, composer, and poet in Astoria, NY. Her poetry can be found in Ancient Paths, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Willawaw Journal, and Time of Singing.
The Pumpkin Field
Being just a poor British boy grown
where London’s roots defile Saxon towns,
common woods and meadows, I know little
about agriculture beyond the shelves
and tin cans of childhood. So when I see
the field of pumpkins on the edge of I-5 North,
the bulbous fruit strung out like orange pearls
in finely tuned rows, small hard heads lolled
on the dry soil, I am amazed that so much
can be gained from these ignorant seeds.
Matthew James Friday is a British born writer and teacher. He has been published in numerous international journals, including The Dillydoun Review, Lunch Ticket, The Oregon English Journal, and Shot Glass Journal. The micro-chapbooks All the Ways to Love, The Residents, Waters of Oregon and The Words Unsaid were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA). Matthew is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry.