Original Poetry: “Tapestried”

i.
My back braces against westerly wind chill.
The earth, warm / moist, sinks slightly with weight.
I could plow around trees to a point on the horizon.
I feel powerfully solitary, pioneering—
Strong thin arms grip my shoulders, hold my head.
They take the bulk of gust and root in firmament.
         I want to go. “Then go.”
         I must go. “Yes.”
I lift from arms fresh / intoxicated, turn back to clarity.
         You’re going? “No, you are.”
         I want to go. “Then go.”
         I must go. “I’ll be here,”
–miles and years from where she started.

ii.
She:
         wife / mother / teacher
stands at the focal point of the yard
         among yellow grass / flowers and white feathers
embraces / absorbs the life warmth of the tapestried landscape
         lot & garden, pasture & field
         pieced together by endless fence.

iii.
The once nimble fingers delicately work the fabric
         piecing decades of memories
        stitching the generations together
                 with expanding spiraling lines.
She:
         mother / grandmother / teacher
braces the soft head / plush arms
places the child in the quilt center.

iv.
         With her back windward,
she lifts her steady arms and cupped hands.
Fingers spread slightly letting wings unfold / dry.
Delicate legs make way to widening fingertips.
         It wants to go. “Then go.”
         It must go. “I’ll be here.”
Butterfly glides leaf-like upward from yard center.
Spiraling arcs take it farther yet
         lot & garden, pasture & field
                 inseparably below
         horizon ahead.
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Short Story Review: “Star of David” by Patricia Briggs

4 of 5 stars.

This one-off detective tale, brilliantly, is much more about the characters at its heart than about the case at hand. It would make a strong start to a series.

David discovered he was a werewolf when he returned from serving in Vietnam to a cheating wife with one foot out the door. In his uncontrolled rage, he destroyed his wife, her lover and the house they shared–all in front of his 12 y.o. daughter who bravely protected her 2 younger brothers from their father.

That was the last time he saw his daughter. For 40 years, he stayed away at her preteen, tearful request. Stella never married, nor had kids. Rather, she directed her energy into helping place fostered children into good, safe homes. The foster children are all her children.

When one of her good kids lands in the hospital with a broken bones and deep bruises after a new placement, one look at crime scene photos of destroyed furniture and the foster parents’ allegations of the bookish teen being the culprit sends Stella into flashbacks. She turns to her estranged father, now a detective and mercenary, for supernatural answers to an unexplained mess . . .

This tale is highly recommended. It appears in Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran.

 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: Lincoln Park Zoo in Late August

During the uncertainty—
      the lull compressed
between chemo bouts
      and stem-cell harvesting,
my brother had
      a good day.

His eyes were tracking
      marmoset acrobatics
and green swamp monkeys
      flinging themselves
from leafless branch
      to man-made vine.

Pressed nose to glass,
      his emaciated face
seemed to curl
      an unthinkably big smile;
his eyes –
      wonderment-wide.

My brother was once
      himself a monkey
climbing, leaping
      each ledge and tree.
But not now;
      and never was I.

Earlier, when basking,
      resting the walking stick
and his neuropathic hobble,
      our small talk
was ruptured
      by seagull screeching

emanating from a fist-faced
      young girl, her eyes
and fists squeezed white
      in deliberate mimicry.
Gulls responded and resumed
      scavenging the patio’s periphery.

If asked about those tall
      days of August waiting,
my story
      will be the seagull-girl
with steady eyes, arms
      outstretched collecting the wind.
 
 
[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review in April 2015.]
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: The Cellist

Mother’s mother lies as a wisp in the crevasse
of pillows on a propped bed amid the flurry
of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” sputtering

from the tinny radio. Her right hand bows
tremolo seemingly. A continuous flutter of motions
seeking its cello now long-lain in velvet

and rusty clasps. The left hand is dystonic
like storm-stripped umbrella ribs, like the dead
spider on the sill. Cyan skin with florets

in hazels and mauves veneers her emergent clavicles.
I can turn away and close my eyes to the open
window. The radio cues a waltz and I can feel

the bed jostle with the bow-bounced spiccato
and the answering long-bowed quivering vibrato
of the left hand. The spider gingerly reanimates

its legs and explores the gap around the window
screen. My grandmother rests her cello
and, floral skirt in hand, twirls to the music

careful not to brush me as she passes.
 
 
 
[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review in April, 2015.]
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Short Story Review: “Grandma” by Carol Emshwiller

2 of 5 stars.

Like Matthew Johnson’s excellent “Heroic Measures”, this tale depicts a former superhero succumbing to old age as they interact with a loved one. In this case, the superhero was of the Wonder Woman or Supergirl variety. Her end-of-life sees her living a secluded life with her youngest granddaughter who narrates the tale.

Little insight is given into the grandma’s motivations beyond “not wanting to be a bother” as her abilities become increasingly limited. The granddaughter is a compromised POV, as she clearly feels inadequate carrying the family mantle and yet aspires for some sort of greater life despite an overall lack of super-talent.

The narrator can neither face the truth, her grandmother’s legacy, nor the public.

This tale appears in the anthology, Superheroes edited by Rich Horton.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: A Song for My Grandmother

Two trumpeters standing tall . . .
From deep within, two trumpeters,
like a pipe organ warming up,
causing shivers and glassy eyes . . .
(It’s an anthem?)
Billows of fabric, flags, circle slowly.
Two trumpeters standing tall
announce
from deep within, an anthem;
and flags, mere billows of fabric,
grandiose flags arc upstroke skyward
in a burst of white doves on a blue sky
causing shivers and glassy eyes.
The crowd, two trumpeters,
a field of uniforms . . .

I am alone
on a high box in white spotlight—
The Moon (Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding).
I am alone and not seeing the crowd
in the blackness; voyeurs watching
me sing of death and longing.
Blue hair, white face, and painted brown
lips, hands clutching (bowing) an upright double-bass.
I am singing what he knew,
of what I’ve yet to know,
of what she knows; and I am alone.

She, my grandmother, straddling her cello,
bows the exhaustion, the longing;
with a trembling upstroke,
does not see the crowd in the blackness
anticipating.

The white doves, anticipating,
are waiting for their high box to open.

Trembling, she claims the microphone.
(It is an anthem.) From beyond
her girth-protected pharynx,
from deep within, like a pipe organ
warming up, she sings
of white doves in a field of blue.

She, the moon,
with wild brown hair and gypsy eyes,
has always sung through the blackness.
Her bone white in a blue sky
sees the anticipating crowds
from her high box on the upstroke.
She announces.

With billows of fabric trembling,
the white doves upstroke
toward a knowing moon.

Two trumpeters announce an anthem.

She, at the microphone, anticipates
the crowd and sings.
I am alone (but am I brave?)

White hair and a blue dress
are laid out on billowing fabric.
The bows are silent.
The brown earth lip-trembles
like a lover anticipating.
She, my grandmother,
does not see the brave crowd
in blackness singing,
causing shivers and glassy eyes.

The moon knows of longing
and sings from deep within.
It’s an anthem “of the brave,”
that she, at the microphone, sings.

He knew the moon.

I have yet to know the doves
that two trumpeters announce.
 
 
 
 
 
[Check out other original poems here.]

Short Story Review: “Super. Family.” by Ian Donald Keeling

4 of 5 stars.

Along the course of every father-daughter relationship, there’s the moment things change. The little girl is no longer a little girl anymore and the father–no matter how invincible and unknowable he seemed–proves all too human. Adult mysteries fail to remain mysteries to the ever more canny offspring.

This tale captures the wonder and bafflement of that moment, when the daughter’s curses and disappointments can slash the parent as deeply as any knife. The loss of innocence is rarely subtle.

However, here it is larger than life. The father is a superhero, one of the greatest and strongest. And yet his identity has remained a secret to even his two daughters. Mom, too, was an active superhero once. But now she’s home raising the third child that came along well after the others. The relationship between the parents is strained to say the least. And the strain is not nearly as lost on the daughters as the parents have hoped.

For a man that’s nearly invincible to the rest of the world, his daughters and wife find and exploit his vulnerability to his very family . . .

This tale appears in the anthology, Superheroes edited by Rich Horton.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]