Our east coast minister-philosopher leaves god at the railroad station in a brown satchel. Pandemic hikes are recommended, with caution, then canceled. The national state of emergency boards up restaurant, book store, strip club, theater, and bar amusement. The three sisters mountain peaks legend stands. We keep busy online, with books, at the liquor store, and in laundry rooms. Our gender flows like freshwater tumbling from moss.
History Storm | XII
The White House garden buds red and green peppers from Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) language debris. Yellow Post-its dedicate classic innovation to you. Dialectic court calls the whale out to the sacrificial field. The online devil agreement signature line is chosen. We have eaten Emily Dickenson’s grave squash flower. Death shrugs from a Hyundai.
Nearly a century of global economics, two world wars, a cold war, site specific global economic wars, and pandemics and there are still no masterminds, only groups of fumbling narcissists with resources.
Michael Rerick currently lives and teaches in Portland, OR. Their work recently appeared or is forthcoming at Clade Song, COAST|noCOAST, Epigraph Magazine, Graviton, Mannequin Haus, Marsh Hawk Review, and Parentheses. They are also the author of In Ways Impossible to Fold, morefrom, The Kingdom of Blizzards, The Switch Yards, and X-Ray.
I remember being seven years old and still loving Iowa spring, believing it to be all cheap gingham and wild onions sprouting. But as I grew I learned that to be a child in promised Iowa spring is to feel sentimental and uneasy. We would return to patterns marking the nurturing rhythm of time familiar: full brush piles, vinca vines blooming, cicada choruses at sundown, lilac bushes spilling over. And with these easy April lullabies came those subliminal spring hints, trailing towards adolescence, hidden in the blossoming, the ripening. Spring pushed childhood forward; we all became wiser when the monarchs returned north. When the soil thawed from months of winter frost, I would kneel in my garden, rusted trowel in hand, knees muddening while I ripped through roots, sent worms wriggling. Trying to dig a hole deep enough where I could hide from spring and remain a child forever.
One day while I was digging I spotted through the soggy loam a flash of moonwhite, smooth and still. It was a perfect stone of life, a bird’s egg whole and glowing. The egg remained cupped in my care for over a week, placed in an old shoebox under the lightbulb of a table lamp. Every day I checked on my dear April lullaby, waiting for it to hatch, and I announced to everyone the news of my beautiful egg, my baby bird-to-be. When I told my elementary school teacher, she invited me to bring my treasure to share with the class. I knew my classmates would be so envious of the springtime life I carried, and I so packed my little egg to bring to school with me the next day.
I wish I had known how fragile those little stones of life tend to be. It seemed that all the resilience of my bird-to-be was spent fully on its fall from the nest. Certainly not enough left to survive a ziploc bag inside a child’s backpack. When I went to my cubby to get my egg, I slowly unearthed a sickly yellow mess. I held my ziploc high to examine the moonwhite shards, jagged and crumbled, yolk lumping thick in between. I shoved it away and went to the bathroom to cry. To mourn. I had killed my April lullaby, my cheap gingham and wild onions sprouting.
Seasons don’t slow for a shattered bird’s egg. Iowa spring kept passing through; each year the monarchs would return north, and I would cry at their beloved homecoming because I didn’t want to get any wiser. Yet my body grew too big to fit inside any dug up garden holes. I could not stop the blossoming, the ripening; springtime would come to welcome my first training bra, my first kiss. The uneasiness of Iowa spring paired cruelly with the sweet smells of chopped lilac in the kitchen vase, a vision of childhood sentiment. And in the thick of that tiptoe towards adolescence I would think back to my precious egg, imagining a world where it had hatched. I dreamt of my bird growing radiant and strong, big enough to carry me away, so that we may leave spring behind and fly forever towards Iowa winter, chasing those months of still and freeze where life remains unchanging.
Carson Schulte is a senior at Luther College studying social work and Spanish. She grew up in Iowa and recently moved to Denver to complete her social work practicum. On days off from her internship at a child residential treatment center, Carson enjoys knitting, baking, and snuggling with her cat. She is an emerging writer in the field of creative nonfiction, with work forthcoming in the Oneota Review.
It would seem to me
that in the vast
of the anthill, along
with burrowing and
tunneling, heaving and
hoisting, fending off
outside invasions down
to the very last ant and
conquering rival kingdoms
with no mercy (and all
the various other assigned
tasks and roles from the
home office / H.Q. of
the collective hive-mind),
surely dreaming must,
also, be an
Jason Ryberg is the author of thirteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is The Ghosts of Our Words Will Be Heroes in Hell (co-authored with Damian Rucci, John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger, OAC Books, 2020). He lives part-time in Salina, KS with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.
When I was in the military, we marched over the purple coneflower and milkweed and powderpuff and canna lily until they were dead from the war of our feet and later when they haze-crucified me I aspirated on my own vomit and saw death marching through the undergrass and he was a he and he was not as seismic as I’d come to expect and
when I was on the football team, they installed debt in my chest and they drove their trucks on the swamp conifers and carved encyclopedias into the pines and our homecoming king took a knife to his abdomen to spell the words MINING TOWN.
When I worked in the prison, they concreted everything so that the yard wasn’t, and the smell was of feces and lives frozen as poison and
when I worked in security, they put me in an isolated guard shack where there was no heat and no one else around for miles and I’d listen to the wolves and would wonder if they were coming from inside me.
When I worked on the ambulance, my partner would make fun of the patients as soon as the patients weren’t our patients and he would reenact their pain by holding his body in the distorted positions in which we found them and I’d go home and warn my parents that if they are ever on an ambulance to record everything because God can see everywhere but not inside the walls of piss and pus, and
when I was in middle school, they’d put us in lockers and light little pieces of paper, throwing them through the hole, telling us that we were going to experience what it’s like to be the sun and afterwards I’d go outside and stare up at it in the hope that I’d go blind forever and it didn’t happen because I could never take the pain and instead would go home and swim in the neighbor’s empty pool, me and a buddy, just moving our arms and walking in that big useless pit.
When I was in PTSD counseling, my counselor fell asleep so I decided to go to sleep too except I could see the helicopters on fire when I closed my eyes and so I just sat there, staring at him, watching him age so slowly, seeing the grandfather and the great-grandfather and the grand-corpse just begging to come out and
when I was in high school, we cheered the violence and admired the violence and encircled the violence and awarded the violence and moved back for the violence and watched the violence and the violence did its thing.
When I was dead, I realized that the earth was everything, that all there is is the earth, that the people on it are just dots, dips, dark, that we are spiders, that our arms are air, replaced so quickly.
But the earth.
But the earth.
Ron Riekki’s books include My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Apprentice House Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and U.P. (Ghost Road Press). Riekki co-edited Undocumented (Michigan State University Press) and The Many Lives of The Evil Dead (McFarland), and edited The Many Lives of It (McFarland), And Here (MSU Press), Here (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book). Right now, he’s listening to Nick Drake’s “Northern Sky.”
The banks look like a Goodwill store washed up, clothes everywhere
Our bodies run down to the surf shells bubble out of the sand
Salt teeth bite at our ankles then our labia, breasts and eyes
We are fifty-six laughing little islands of loamy flesh
We wash up onto the sand pink and glinting in the sun
We find our clothes, soft as homespun, warm as August dunes of sand
Four fire-lords build a circular blaze that sways and rises to meet us
We too rise and sway, huddled like fur weanlings at the breast
our chests rising and falling in sync our smiles lit up and flickering.
We raise a sunny, rubicund cone high, high into and through the fog
We shout, laugh and cry firelit eyes each a salty ocean
We release it with smoke into the chill air and dissolve into dance and drums
and silent pairs, trudging up the banks trailing bits of circle as we go.
Mo Lynn Stoycoff is a writer and visual artist whose poems have appeared in Poetry Now, Rise Up Review, The American Journal of Poetry, California Quarterly, Speckled Trout Review and many other journals and anthologies. Mo works in the performing arts and lives in Central California.
Bristlecone twist upon twist, layer upon layer, like fingers of the crone or braids of her mother, reaching for the sky. Cold air, hot sun. High desert survivor
dared erosions and fires, needed only a few small strips of bark to stay alive, outlive them all. But 5000 years were undone in one afternoon.
We want to know, to name. We are Machiavellian in this pursuit. Prometheus stole fire from the gods, carried it
in giant fennel stalk, gifted it to humans. For this, he was bound to a rock, his liver to be eagle-eaten every day, regrow at night and be eaten again.
To understand the brain’s hemispheres, we cut the corpus collosum. To learn the spread of virus, we cull the herd, open skulls. To know the oldest, we bored the bark,
failed, then cut and sectioned, hauled and processed. Counted rings, counted time. Only then did we understand the ignorance and arrogance.
Still, we kept one slab at Ely casino, then convention center. Respect reserved for the lab or the field, now national park in part because scientist-cum-lumberjack pushed
to protect remaining pine, hobble the folly of men, like him, believing they need to know, no matter the damnation, no matter the pain.
Heather Bourbeau’s fiction and poetry have been published in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, Cleaver, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Short Édition, The Cardiff Review, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she is the winner of La Piccioletta Barca’s inaugural competition and Chapman University Flash Fiction winner. She has worked with various UN agencies, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia.
This piece is a part of South Broadway Press’ March issue, Language of the Earth.
Peas zigzag through weeds, scaling borage instead of trellis.
Tomatoes stagnate, grass and clover thrive, tender beets
sprout alongside dandelions tubers. Uprooting one hefty weed
evicts the fledgling vegetables. It all grows, though the weeds
grow best. My own roots reach back to clean plow lines and blooming
rows: eighty acres of fruit farm plus a rectangle of Ontario’s Eden
beside the old garage: all-you-can-eat green beans, snow peas, cherry
tomatoes, rhubarb for pie and stewed berries over ice cream.
I grew up knowing a weed is a weed and a plant
is sacred. Behold my upscaled quagmire—Royal Burgundy Beans,
rainbow chard, heirloom Spanish radishes, yellow pear tomatoes—
mingled with timothy, dandelion, broadleaf plantain. A feast of colours
descendant of rain-scented soil spread down a long laced
table, paired with a leggy wine. Inside, I hear the garden
call. Dillweed whispers and waves, its delicate imitation
fern summons rusted canning rings while blue morning
glories drown everything by mid-August.
Wendy BooydeGraaff’s poems, stories, and essays have been included in Critical Read, Not Very Quiet, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Meniscus, and elsewhere. Originally from Ontario, where she grew up on a fruit farm, she now lives in Michigan suburbia.
This piece is a selection from South Broadway Press’ March issue, Language of the Earth.
Long, limber stalks with out-sized bulbous heads Could be confused with other specimens, Especially to folks who’ve never seen Exotics rooted in a foreign pod.
By night they leave protected flowerpots.
Exhaling oxygen, these beings fly, Determined to reverse what climate change Eroded by offsetting greenhouse gas With purifying breaths, restoring trees, And tackling global warming, ice-shelf melt.
I won’t reveal this methodology.
My job is to provide fresh nutrients ― ― Ingredients from our rare biosphere.
Then curious balloon contraptions sail These pods to sites that need repair and care.
Disguised as gladiator allium, Purple florets compressed inside a round, Attractive head, the team disperses from Each stem ― ― a green antenna ― ― gets to work.
Earthlings don’t know extraterrestrials
Are wise, solution oriented, pained By man’s destruction, astral gifts blood-stained.
Night winds blow golden over what’s reclaimed And what’s unfinished. Damaged nature won’t Regenerate except through tender tips Renewing fruited plains, life’s green wealth, ’til Earth rejoices in its own undeath.
Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo, recently Poetry SuperHighway’s Poet of the Week, is a member of SFPA and The Dramatists Guild. Her poetry collections “Conflicted Excitement” [Red Wolf Editions, 2018], “Concupiscent Consumption” [Red Ferret Press, 2020], and Elgin Award nominee “A Route Obscure and Lonely”‘ [Wapshott Press, 2019] along with a contribution in “Anti-Italianism: Essays on a Prejudice” [Macmillan in the USA, Aracne Editions in Italy] are her latest titles.
This piece is part of South Broadway Press’ March 2021 issue, The Language of the Earth.