Dogs

Donald Hubbard

Our dogs introduced us, I walked my beagle and she chased her loose dachshund and we tracked down her dog and like our dogs we later mated.

After we had real children, I watched her play with them and marveled over how seamlessly she brought our dogs into their playtime and how sweet she was as or dogs aged and died. How wonderfully she explained to our children about how our dogs were in a far less unkind place, all this before The Lion King was released and postulated the circle of life.

We bought new dogs and she lovingly welcomed them into the family, rescue dogs who no longer needed to worry about having enough to eat or beatings from masters. Only hugs, I hugged the dogs and she hugged the dogs, and though our love for each other grew, eventually we only expressed intimacy through our dogs.

Our children left home, though they returned for holidays and their mother’s funeral. I embraced my children and we wept and I gave my dogs to a young couple who had contemplated divorce before my gift to them.

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Donald Hubbard has written six books, one of which was profiled on Regis and Kelly and another that was a Boston Globe bestseller and Amazon (category) top ten. Two books have gone into a second edition and he was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame as an author in 2015. A chapter of one of his books was published in the on-line edition of Notre Dame Magazine. His published stories include those in Funny in 500, Quail Bell, Praxis, 101 Word Story, Flash Fiction Magazine, Crack the Spine and Oddville Press.

He studied English at Georgetown University and the University of Kent. Law at Notre Dame.

Three Poems

John Grey

JENNA

A heart must take care of its needs.
The head will follow in time.
But then there’s Jenna – not an ideal subject for thinking straight
though she is among the most intelligent of all women.
Add her silky black hair, slim figure, soft voice
and what do you have?
Thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts.
Jenna’s family includes: Rosalind, Michael, Sean.
Jenna has a large dog, a Newfoundland I believe.
Jenna could be a noun – a soft sigh expressing joy or accomplishment.
Jenna has traveled to every continent except Antarctica.
Jenna is opportunistic, but not cruelly so
Jenna is the brightest in just about every kind of company.
Many have had to admit their error in her presence.
Jenna has a way of communicating with her eyes
Jenna doesn’t play the field, plans to be with only the one man.
It would be a triumph indeed to be that man.
Since the end of adolescence, with a growth spurt,
and the fading of various species of acne
she has been the proverbial cynosure of all attention.
Even when she only drove that blue Honda Civic.
Lawyers, teachers, construction workers –
all have taken a number at Jenna’s door.
Each in turn has learned there’s someone out there
more than what they are.
I can’t imagine Jenna as an old or ugly woman.
Everything she does, no matter how modest, how minor,
is one more note for a love poem.
Oh she has dated. But nothing serious.
I think it’s best to just be liked by her,
to be witness, but not take responsibility beyond yourself.
Today is Friday. I haven’t seen Jenna in weeks.
She is out there somewhere.
I’m content to let that be enough.

IMMIGRATION TALE

I showed him my passport.
He stared at it intently
like it was a crime scene
and he was looking for clues.

I was guilty of having
my photograph taken
and slipped inside
a small booklet

but nothing more than that.
He rippled the pages.
He held up the picture
against my face

like he was a witness
in a police lineup.
He didn’t say anything
but his silence

was hanging-judge severe.
Finally, he waved me through.
There was nothing he could do
about me, my body,

my feelings, my thoughts,
my associates, my history.
He left it to his country
to find me out.

CLEANING LADY, 1964

She was barely noticed, scrubbing floors on the margin,
always on the brink of what would finally kill her,
death threats in the intestine, cruel jokes played on knees,
the rising monster in her left breast.

Sometimes dreading, sometimes forgetting,
but always a time when, with mop and bucket,
brush and soap, she bent her back
just to make sure a hospital ward was spotless.

So much sweat went into someone else’s benefit,
so much dying into the life around her,
besides the daily dilemma of food and rent and bills to be paid,
on a paycheck that never broke minimum.

And now the question arises:
who’s to make the necessary arrangements?
And one even more pressing according to some:
did she live on the right side of the church?

Oh she had an occasional vision, a dream
of something she couldn’t quite see
but whether they were reflected this life or the next
never made a difference either way.

Their meaning was untidy, like the grubby tiles before her
and her course involved neatness and cleaning.
The rules dawned on her clear at birth.
Do what’s expected and you’ll be paid to be black.

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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and Visions International.

Two Poems

Chella Courington

Three-Quarter Time

I watched a woman
hair once the color of coal
shape bagels at the corner deli
her long fingers
looping dough around her hand
rolling it on white marble
until a round tube twirled
in on itself.

She dropped the circle
into steaming water
the dough rose swollen & wet

Through her I saw
faintly a girl
in dark braids sitting
at a Wurlitzer
turning pages faster & faster
until the paper floated up
my hands holding to the treble clef
swinging above brick and tile
through altostratus clouds.

 

The Steady Drain of Habit

as two bodies
side by side
sharing the same bed
same morning coffee
wake one Wednesday
or maybe Sunday
see the other
etched in lines
crevices of the past
and walk away
to find what’s lost.

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Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. With a Ph.D. in American and British Literature and an MFA in Poetry, she is the author of six poetry and three flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and journals including Non-Binary Review, Pirene’s Fountain, and The Los Angeles Review.

 

Three Poems

John Grey

THE SICKNESS OF OTHERS

I am writing this
as white as the pith of an orange.

Is she okay?
Her face is as red and sweaty
as a boiled beet.

Everything’s fine.
She’s durable.
She wasn’t born with a high temperature.

And her sweetness isn’t compromised.
Nor is the softness of her voice.

She’s vulnerable, as we all are.
A baby bawling for its comforter.
But tough like a hard-backed chair.

Her sickness is merely filtered through
the skin that she wore the last time 1 saw her.

Call it tropical orchards in bloom if you must.
Or any plant that’s nasty and meaty and beautiful
as all hell.

 

THE ARGUMENT FADES WITH THE MILES

For the longest time
I thought it was going to be
one of those futile drives

when nothing I said
could salve your mood exactly right
and I plead endlessly
until frustration overwhelms

but then the road
had the good sense
to change from paved to gravel
and the suburbs gave way

to farms and hay meadows
then rolling blue hills
followed by deep lush woods –

I stopped talking,
you still said nothing

but I had a sense
that there is more than
one kind of silence –

there’s that which sets itself up
as a counterpoint to sound –

there’s that which
chooses to hold its tongue

often and without warning.

 

REPENT AT YOUR LEISURE

No more tear
of conception, beds, relatives, bodies.
And virginal loneliness.
Sex happened
and it didn’t kill you both.
It was more like humanity
than you imagined
and less like a playground
for youth.
It reminded you of
the time you had orchestra seats
for a play,
front row in fact.
You could reach out
and almost touch the actors.
Only now.
it was more than almost.
You might never see him again
but you could always have husbands later.
For now,
you could believe that
was as close as life had ever got
to being all about you.
It may not have been heaven
but it was better
than nothing ever was.

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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

4 Women: 1 Damaged, 3 Dead

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

1.

A woman supine on a Mexican blanket is pitted like an olive, with one deft twist. The brass bars of a wind chime hang above her like a skeleton. Her joints glow in the dark, like something freshly soldered. She sleeps.

The men in the front room peer out the glassless windows and listen for moans. When the infant comes, it will be an icon of metal scraps and fish-heads. They will set it in a bare corner atop a
stool.

It will scrabble. White powder will film its brown belly. One of its arms will be crustacean.

The dark man and his wife—their hands will fit together grimly, like railroad cars coupling.

2.

I took the tiny Guatemalan doll out of its knitted pouch. It looked like Nanci, recently dead. Dark hair, straight features, a Twilight Zone moment.

Nanci could have reincarnated as this doll, comfortable in her little pouch with no need for food, toileting or other mortal maintenance.

She looks forward to my gently removing her from the knit-work to hold insomniac
conversations. She has plenty of time to catch up on her sleep. After all, she’s dead and, as she always joked, busy painting or making photographs or traveling in distant lands, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead.

3.

My dentist tells me I have acid erosion. Then he bashes Princess Diana. She might have been pretty but she was dumb, he says, a typical aristocratic British daughter, raised to be a potential Windsor brood mare.

What are you saying, I demand. Diana’s been dead… how long? And today you want to bash her? You know I admired and respected Diana. You know I was in love with her (I stifle a sob).

I regret taking the nitrous oxide. Me and Dent huff it recreationally after my appointments, at other times too. We prefer it to cocktails.

Oh, he says, a new biography just came out about good old Princess Dead. I’ve been reading it, and the author’s style and sensibilities have affected me.

Dent and I have been friends since junior high, when he admired my performance art. Now I’m a portrait painter, not terribly successful. I show up in his office in paint-spattered pants. Dent pays his assistant extra to work on me because she despises me and the smell of turpentine.

Dentistry is soulless, I accuse him. Every year you become more callous, more empty. Princess Diana shone like the Virgin in the grotto at St. Mary Star of the Sea.

Dent turns off the nitrous. He yawns. Yeah, yeah, she was a princess she was, he says in a bad British accent.

4.

My favorite cousin killed herself. She took a massive dose of Benadryl. She won’t have to worry about bee allergies ever again. She won’t have to run screaming from them. She won’t have to fear any toxin. She won’t have to fear the toxins inside her head.

I’m so pissed at her, I want to plunge my arm into a bee hive. I want to scream in earthly pain.


 

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois  has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including several times in THE MISCREANT. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and. was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To read more of his work, Google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.