Rebecca O’Bern

Mother

for Emily Dickinson, who lost her mother to a stroke, and who
meticulously catalogued her garden in a notebook for 46 years

They say tending an herbarium is the toughest
work a daughter will ever do, that its pages
of green vibrant plants can turn black and curl
in the corners at any moment (because life
can’t be weighed, catalogued, and slipped into
a notebook of stems and seeds as if a thing
that can be held), that a daughter has to wake
up one of these days and touch the dirt by the
headstone with her bare hands, press down
so deep that she carries the earth with her now
like a new fingerprint, a reminder that not all
flowers are perennials—that tending anything
alive makes fingers bruise, swell, wrists ache.


Rebecca O’Bern is associate poetry editor of Mud Season Review, has been published recently in Ample Remains and Buddhist Poetry Review, and tweets @rebeccaobern.


 

 

Todd Mercer

Ephemeral & Transitory

We have until they go out into the world,
after which we wonder if we really had them at all,
the way the clock and the calendar
flap in the wind
on the last standing wall
of heartbreak.


Todd Mercer was born ready, then was not at all ready, next became over-confident believing himself more than ready, followed by being notably unready, and hopefully now is once again ready.


 

 

Liliya Gazizova

Закат

На окна повесили
Красную сетку.
Теперь всегда закат.

Sunset

A red flyscreen
Was put on the window
And now we always have sunset.


Liliya Gazizova is a Russian poet of Tatar origin, a member of the International Pen Club (Pen-Moscow), author of fifteen volumes of poetry, published in Russia, Europe and USA, teaching Russian literature at Ergies University (Kayseri, Turkey).


 

 

Ian Willey

Progress

I tell him there were stickleback
in this stream but the water got
dirty from all the detergent and
the chemicals people put on their
lawns so now they are gone
and this makes him sad but I don’t
tell him there is such a thing as
progress, that there were once laws
in place to prevent people like your
mother and me from getting married
at the same time the stickleback
were free to build their little nests
in the weeds along the bank.


Ian Willey really wants other people to like him, though he’s pretty good at pretending not to care.


 

 

Jon Densford

Groundstroke

In the end, you will want more
than the fuzz-free yellow skin
of that old tennis ball X-cut and
jammed
onto the bottom of one rear
leg of a cold aluminum walker,
scuffling through one last service.


Jon Densford lives in Memphis TN but goes to Arkansas to fish at least once a week.


 

 

Marc Vincenz

Gray Hair

My face wraps itself in the wind,
my ears see the light.


Marc Vincenz is a poet, fiction writer, translator, editor, publisher, designer, multi-genre artist and musician; he has published fourteen books of poetry, including more recently, The Syndicate of Water & Light, and Here Comes the Nightdust.


 

 

Debbie Collins

The Herd in December

The black cows on the
snowy edge of the white field
look like graffiti
on the side of the train or
sharps and flats
on a sheet of music,
their breath coming
in clouds and their
bellowing wish for the
morning oats and hay
as yet unfulfilled.


Debbie Collins likes to write about misfits and outcasts, most of whom need help with personal navigation.