Pillow Talk with Pneumonia
“I will die in Paris with a rainstorm”
– Cèsar Vallejo
“I will die of pneumonia in the spring,”
I say to my spouse while I climb into bed
beside him, and his eyes widen. Somehow
I didn’t expect his response even though I do
have pneumonia and it’s spring. “Not this spring!”
I quickly add, “Later, I mean. When I’m old.”
Later that night, I dream that my spouse and I stand
in our office, face to face, making plans for the day,
when suddenly I can’t breathe. I try to signal to him
that he needs to call 911 right now, but my hands
just reach for him as I collapse to my knees and my
vision closes to black.
I startle awake, gasp as if I’ve just been brought
to life, throw my arms wide as if to hug the world.
No, not this spring.
Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her fifth chapbook, 28,065 Nights, is forthcoming from River Glass Books. Her poems have appeared in Glass, The Lascaux Review,
Stirring, THRUSH, Verse Daily, and many other venues. Find her online
Thunderstorm, Nothing Else New
A thunderstorm is long overdue,
the perfect prescription
to the dip in the bell-curve
of my mind.
Dreams go poof
with all the mom
and pop shops closed
except for take-out–
warding off the virus
or make a buck, some businesses
can’t have it both ways.
Fish n’ chips
doesn’t taste the same
in my small hermitage
on my fine china.
The cloudbursts are headed seaward,
low grumble, fainter still–
bifurcated birds trailing far behind.
Read to fall asleep.
Samuel Strathman is a Jewish/Canadian poet, author, educator, and editor at Cypress: A Poetry Journal. Some of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in White Wall Review, Dusie, NoD Literary Magazine, Train: A Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. His first chapbook, “In Flocks of Three to Five” will be released later this year by Anstruther Press. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Markings for Strange Rituals
Cento from “Jesus’ Son: Stories” by Denis Johnson
Under Midwestern clouds like great grey brains we left the superhighway with a drifting sensation and entered Kansas City’s rush hour with a sensation of running aground. It was raining.
Don’t let it get you down.
Tom had such sharp features that his moods looked even worse than they were. His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. He had me pull up to a lopsided farmhouse set on a hill of grass.
Put out your cigarette.
Every time I entered the place there were veiled faces promising everything and then clarifying quickly into the dull, the usual, looking up at me and making the same mistake. Telling lies to one another, far from God.
It seemed all right, and then it wasn’t right. I can hardly move my fingers. What am I crying for?
Through the neighborhoods and past the platforms, I felt the cancelled life dreaming after me. I was sick of myself and full of joy. The torn moon mended.
The radiator was hissing steadily. Rather than moving, we were just getting smaller and smaller
Warmth from the Moon
Cento from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
She had followed me just to pass the time of day, and she was barefoot. Here are my own fringed necessities, a veritable forest of pines. The hemlocks by the barbed-wire fence are flinging themselves east as though their backs would break. Clouds slide as if pulled from the horizon, like a tablecloth whipped off a table.
My eyes focus along that column of air, picking out flying insects. Sometimes birdsong sounds just like the garbled speech of infants.
Could tiny birds be shifting in me right now? I am already that old.
There is a broken whiskey bottle by the log, and underneath it a bound sheaf of ink drawings. I blink and squint.
What color am I looking for? She saw, but it did not mean anything but a lot of different kinds of brightness.
We close the book and turn to the cocoon. Judy had found it loose in a pile of frozen leaves. The wind’s knife has done its work. The air and the ground are dry; the mountains are going on and off like neon signs. I come down to the water to cool my eyes.
Yes, it’s tough, it’s tough, that goes without saying. What I do is me: for that I came. I stand up and brush the knees of my pants.
At my back the sun is setting—how can I not have noticed before that the sun is setting? There is an immeasurably distant light glowing from half-remembered faces. Now only the naked tips of trees fire tapers into the sky like trails of sparks.
I wait on bridges. The romance without the heartache.
Aura Martin graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She is the author of the micro-chapbook “Thumbprint Lizards” (Maverick Duck Press). Her recent work has appeared in Flypaper Lit, Kissing Dynamite, and Poetry WTF?!, among others. In Aura’s free time, she likes to run and take road trips.