Weekly Write: “Automatic Guns” by KB Hadley

Current World State: Automatic Guns

It never should have happened
they say as they examine the bodies
scattered on the cold tile floor.
Police tape draped haphazardly
across the glass front doors.

Where was the security guard?
He ran at the sight of an automatic
gun barrel pointed down the hall.
He didn’t run away as some say
he ran to begin the lockdown protocol.
Clearing out kids in the open courtyard,
such an easy target for the AR-15
and the kid behind the metal.

We lost seventeen today.
How do we come to terms with this loss?
How have we come to a point
where kid on kid violence
is just another massacre?
We turn the other cheek.
Yet children still wake in nightmares
while the world continues to sleep.

KB Hadley earned her MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry from Augsburg University, and her work can be seen in Twig and Barstow & Grand. She also works as a mentor with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. KB lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and dog.

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Weekly Write: “Perfection” by Andy Posner

Perfection

I had thought I lacked for time
And spent my days frantic,
As though life were a web
And death a looming spider, his
Approach inexorable, his mouth
Large enough to swallow whole
My ambitions.

I had thought I lacked for time
And arose each dawn to make up
For yesterday’s failure,
To promise that today I would be perfect;
I bribed the gatekeepers of perfection
With my promises—
“O, let me through!” I begged.
And at night I’d rub my forehead
Where the iron had held me back,
The currency of my promises
Still glistening like anxious sweat in my hand.

For years I pressed my nose to glass
And watched sun, wind, rain, snow
As they whirled past my stationary self
Like a riderless bicycle balanced
By something, someone, I couldn’t see.

I had thought I lacked for time
And raced to outrun the bell
Whose ring might rouse me from my dream,
Only to at last find I was awake and tired
And still holding coins no deity, no therapist, no poet
Would accept—a pauper with a home, a job, a six-figure net worth,
Wanting for nothing, suddenly with time to spare,
Unable to afford even a moment of calm self-reflection.

 

Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. He has had poems published in the Noble / Gas Qtrly, The Esthetic Apostle, and Burningword Literary Journal.

 

 

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

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Weekly Write: “Cancer” by Ali Gowrie

Cancer

The fog pours like soup across
the highway and I fell lost but
every set of headlights I pass is
my father’s blue eyes.

He was always best at navigating
the fog, a red and green light
always finding his way through
the harbors and safely home.

And I cry. I cry for Home. I cry
for him, for his unwavering
strength, for how he has taught me
how to avoid rocks with a blind eye.

Daddy, you have been my
radar, my sail and my wind, my
captain, my anchor and line.
Now let me be yours.

 

Ali Gowrie

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $7.95.

Weekly Write: “The Dogs of the White Cannon” by Jonathan Andrew Perez

The Dogs of the White Canon

The land is a swash of monotone: cobwebs against yellowing barns,
seed pods off rusty fences.

Nothing to glide but the glue, the kind of setting that dulls the senses.

Give me: dog ripping leg on gravel road,
Give me: wolf on fire trail that circles the valley.
I heard dogs travel in packs, at night.
I heard undomesticated baying at the rough horizon.

They plunder the uninhabited
like hound on the trail of a hare,
or tear a shrew from its hole,
or like an Orca flip a seal pup,
head-over-heals in the light.

Buddy, the black lab,
proudly returns home, gangster, down the avenue,
jaw clenched over a wet mouse.
Buddy, listen up, predatory dogs
only mate at night and surely always disturb
any of the familiar faces that make up townsfolk.

Buddy, you are not a regular visitor. Lower your music.
Buddy, each year I have come here, you or another are here
wandering the hamlets: drinking, cheating, killing
in the back of a club, behind a high school gymnasium
near torn-up mounds north of town. Or not you.

Buddy, I saw once. You and I are a kind of undead,
washed up in some quarry
up a peak, not so bleak, because sooner or later a rumor will start
that you have will come back as a mountain lion.

 

Jonathan Andrew Perez is previously published in Prelude, Junto Magazine, The Write Launch and Silver Needle Press. He has a Master’s in English Literature and African American Cultural Studies from the University of Virginia, and a day job is as an Assistant District Attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor.

Weekly Write: ” Somnambulist” by Charles Duffie

Somnambulist

The pills knock you out, so you’re asleep when I make the rounds. That’s good. Easier. You hate that I still do this. I got into the habit when you were pregnant. It was prayer back then, pausing in each room, murmuring, “Thank you” and meaning it. Every night. Sixteen years.

So, I make the rounds, even now. Stand in the kitchen, where he picked up your love of cooking. The living room, where every Wednesday was Family Game Night, even when he got busy in high school. Our bedroom, where you fell asleep so easily, curled in contentment. The little sunroom where I pretended I was a novelist and he pretended he was a songwriter. His bedroom, where he evolved like the history of man, from neanderthal toddler to cro-magnon tween to a sometimes surly, often fine homo sapiens.

So every night I make the rounds, pause at each station, but without “Thank you” now, those clasped words slammed apart as easily as the Honda slammed through the guard rail, our boy asleep at the wheel. He just fell asleep. That’s all. Why is that the one detail I can’t accept?

The first few weeks, it hurt you, that I kept making the rounds. Your husband became a somnambulist and all you could do was sleep. I envy your hibernation. You’ll survive this long winter and wake in some unseeable spring. Meanwhile I go through the motions. I feel unmoored even from my grief. I kneel in the surf of the shag carpet; I’ve been in a shipwreck, a castaway washed ashore in my own home.

That annoying grandfather clock he loved chimes downstairs. As if summoned, I shuffle into the kitchen. This routine I do for you, while you sleep. I make the rounds for me, I make dinner for you. This was your sacred space with him. God, he was a chubby kid. That’s why you learned to cook. No more fast food, you said. All the diets the two of you started and quit.

I flip The No Meat Athlete Cookbook to the next recipe. I hated all his plant-based lectures. But I have to admit, he lost weight, got trim and fast. Watching him glide downcourt, stretch his body, pluck the ball from the air and finger-float it through the rim — he was more beautiful than anything in nature. A gazelle leaping is a graceful machine, but a boy doing that? That’s conscious grace. That has to be proof of something.

Tonight I’m making Loaded Spaghetti Squash, Garlicky Rosemary Potato Soup, Kale Salad with You-Won’t-Believe-It’s-Cashews Ranch Dressing, and No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake. The silvery sounds of new pans, ceramic plates, glass bowls, steel measuring cups — his birthday present from you, a complete set. Crisp cuts through squash, potatoes, kale stems; easy motions, pouring, whisking, scooping; distinct smells, garlic, rosemary, basil, bay leaves; stirring slow like cranking a gurney or prayer wheel. I lose myself in these mundane things until the flavors sweeten the air and pull me back.

It’s a feast. Center all the bowls on the white table, each filled with color: bright orange pasta, golden soup, blue-green salad, small black cheesecake with blanched almonds serrating the edges. Sometimes I notice there’s no silverware, sometimes I don’t.

It’s almost 3 AM. We haven’t sat together, husband and wife, at this table since the crash. But I end up here every night. Maybe I’m waiting for the day I’ll feel hungry again. I don’t know. It’s only been six weeks. Give it time, people say. I’ve lost thirty pounds. How do fathers do it? This is an old story, losing a son. How have all the fathers before me carried on? Why can’t I wake up?

My foot bumps something. His basketball rolls out from under the table, across the hardwood, taps against the front door. Yesterday when you went shopping, I played in the driveway, then hid the ball when you came home. I forgot to move it back to his room. You don’t like me doing anything we used to do with him. His death grated across us, leaving all these holes in our life. Everything is falling through.

It’s cold outside. Look at that moon. Almost full, almost there. I shoot a few hoops, the ball bouncing, hitting the rim, so loud in the silence I stop, waiting for someone to shout out their window. But if anyone’s awake, they keep it to themselves.

I should go back in, but the park is just down the block. I can’t see it, so I walk to the street lamp on the corner. From here, the jungle gym looks like a pile of empty cages; the trees are as still as a diorama. And all that night behind it. Somewhere out there is the basketball court where we played until, one day, he magically was better than me.

“What?” I say to the half park.

It’s so quiet, I hear water in the sewer flowing under my feet. Somewhere behind me, the freeway sounds like a river too. I feel like I’m being swept away.

“What?” I call. “What?!”

I throw the ball like I’m trying to hit something. It loops high into the dark, gone. A moment later I hear it bounce on the court, again, again, then gone.

It takes a long time, until the sky softens, but I turn around. There’s nothing to do but follow the curve of the earth back home, choke the food down the disposal, and clean the kitchen before you wake up.

 

Charles Duffie is a writer and designer from California. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books and Role Reboot, and will be featured in the 2019 American Story Anthology published by New Rivers Press.

 

 

“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2019 Anthology.

Click here check out Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018 available for only $7.95.