Our silence splinters
with the staccato breath
of hyper histrionics.
I dissolve into your
knowing no rules
in this played non-game.
to your heart alone.
Cannot feign ignorance
or undo all that’s done,
cannot unsee this tragedy shared
or untangle our complex past.
It’s become our mythology,
believed by all the locals,
translated loosely from the
hieroglyphs of nuance,
repeated gestures made
in the express checkout line.
We check the mailbox
three times in short succession,
continue to wait for news
that’s never coming.
Butterflies mock us,
but in the end,
we fight imaginary battles alone.
The Bird Peddler
I fill cage after cage
with words and push them down
the street to fling them at strangers.
They all return,
Helen and Irving
For forty years
they were two mismatched socks,
Helen running her fingers over
window sills and cabinet tops
searching for the last speck of dust,
Irving, never cleanly shaved or coifed,
parading in his undershirt,
hip-flask in hand.
The dog peed on the carpet
each time they fought
and snapped at children in the park
as if they were pieces of raw steak.
One evening in a drunken rage
Irving kicked him down the stairs
lost his balance, hit his head,
and had a massive stroke.
The last time I saw him,
he was no bigger than a child,
dressed in starched pyjamas,
his blue eyes staring into space
as she fed him pudding from a spoon.
“Look how clean I keep him,” Helen said,
wiping the spittle from his chin
and tucking him in.
“He’s my baby.”
William Ryan Hillary
The Mechanics of Defying Time
What shall we do tomorrow
That we did not do today?
What time tomorrow? Where? When?
Which sequence of ticking syllables shall we save?-
How many lists will we make—things
We said we'd do
With each midnight passing
We didn't do.
Things are only objects
And we are only relics.
And the petty hours are vagabond in their wanderings
Perpetrating the most severe of betrayals:
Seconds turn to decades while mothers sleep.
And when they awake,
Their children are gone
Only these imperfect
Clumsy beasts remain
Promising what they cannot possibly provide
Promising it Tomorrow.
How to Sell Your First Screenplay and Become Rich
Find the child
Who'll come to despise you.
Stick a pin in him.
Tell his story.
Follow the thin trail
Of hair as it falls from
As he ages.
Dank, playground nights
Over bloody noses and fistfights
The night sweats
That remind you:
“Guilt makes for a hell of a tale, boy”
Romance too, but romance is usually
An indelible fog—Fraud
A note clipped on the wings of a pigeon or a frog
Or a finger pressing, curled 'come-hither'
On the sweet, secret spotted insides of a woman
You barely knew, and so will be able to love forever
Because you barely knew her.
Art is a re-wrapped gift.
You had it, rejected it, traded it.
Now you want to sell it.
A balding bloke hosing off his somewhat
beat-up fishing boat. Monterey Plein Air
Society painters out en masse, strung along
an entire half mile of prim shoreline,
easels aimed at shallow bay and wharf
from every conceivable angle…
He meets up with her exactly on schedule.
She seems pretty enough, although
distractingly smug, under the illusion
that her strict vegetarian diet
and regular strenuous workouts
will assure indefinite affluence.
1602: upon this very spot
the first mass in California held…
She excuses—must dash soon lest miss
the all-important consultation
with her investment advisor…
A whole team of fishermen
extended elbow to elbow
at the far end of a cocked pier.
They cash in on a huge
school of mackerel, squeal, reel.
Oh how those suffocating fish flip
in the air and then flap against
thick rough planks, panic-stricken…
Her sporty new BMW, Chihuahua photos
on iPhone, ranch adjacent to Laguna Seca…
At Breakwater Cove Marina one can rent
a kayak or scuba gear, take a boat tour…
Undoubtedly his whole world won’t come
crashing down…She’ll get to the bible
tomorrow…Crepes of Brittany, Palaca
Trattoria, Old Fishermans Grotto, Carousel
Candies ambient…Likely dismissive
indifference imbedded in that statement…
The bell tolls four times at city hall…
Lips that touch liquor shall never…
Circe expecting something momentous…
Pinwheels fastened to various masts
on the harbor make hay, whirring
as wires slap, chime against those
steel posts while wind quickens.
1. In Stride
I think I’ll ride it out tonight,
sighs dimming the late night sky
and meadowlarks gone to nest.
Silence beams from compliant
resurrections that are immanent
in reflections of her blazing gaze.
It’s a strange yet necessary arrangement--
what omnipresent messenger malingers
in my dissimilitude, impudent
contractor of engravings I carve
on stones fallen from on high.
I was salivating along with
my pulse spilling through
the piano string grid
that dog stood on.
I was thankful for my angel,
as always imperial
in her moral support.
I felt much like Aeneas,
about to tumble into Hades
holding Virgil by the waist.
Romulus and Remus
morphing into that dog
in torrid swarming fog.
I was moderately tempted
to write about this,
spread it via my blog.
Then actually considered
in fact even defragging
my troublesome computer.
I started stomping ants,
swatting droves of lucent flies.
I simply couldn’t justify
didn’t make a B line
for universal love.
3. Nowhere Land
Another year gone by and nowhere to go,
hither absconded and yonder way past
wonder strayed. Ecliptic visions united
in an untied future. Who maintains
adequate resolve to blunder, misty
through lavender fields in June?
January rain isn’t enough. We need
snow, at least 50 feet of it, and now,
enough to bury Monticello.
My messages continue to be intercepted.
They must be getting decoded. No other
explanation exists. Coaxial can’t lie.
Encryption made from another dimension
too abstruse for any antonym. And yet
I’m not willing to cede my liberty.
Complicated ways and means may
smooth out once the coast clears.
I think my communications
eventually get through,
but not so sure anyone is there
to hear. Similes can’t quite render
those messages in concrete terms.
The need to constantly siphon
one tank of love into another
accurately depicts my words.
5. Cosmos End
From the depths of desecration
springs autonomous consecration
of oneself. There is no stranger,
no other wondering who am I
and where I am at cosmos end.
The Last and the Looming Wars
Take a right on War Memorial Blvd, last house on your left,
up the stairs to the desk at the crown of your hopes.
where the generals on the little tv explain we’re back to war.
It was a hard and strange day.
The tv showed us some hell in the morning
and the afternoon couldn’t escape it.
They pulled the men’s pants down
and shot them in the head.
On the little tv, the celebrities
who were supposed to be our friends
all wished us ill, said we had a bad day
coming for a long time now
and their only complaint
was that it wasn’t bad enough.
I drove toward the clouds,
and when the rain came I couldn’t tell
if I had found the storm
or if the storm had found me.
The candidate makes eye contact with the camera
and says he too hates the world, but for fresher, truer reasons.
But what we push toward is something other than justice,
efficiency, truth, and the forgiveness of our flawed births.
We push on because it hurts here.
We push on because we
are no longer the dreamer but the dream.
Seatbelts and Life Rafts
Airlines drop me to my day.
The jet engines hum a new weariness
into the music of morning.
In the terminal, I feel sanctified,
or at least justified,
by the fuel being burned on my behalf.
For I am a jealous god,
or at least a spoiled child,
and I demand a fatted calf.
Jet engines sing of disaster,
conjure up all my cheap cleverness
and shabby moral choices.
In the din, stewardesses tell us a lie
about seatbelts and life rafts—so much effort and noise
for something as fragile as vanity.
The intercom pings in a new age of euphemism.
And I am so alone, when everyone
puts on their headphones.
You probably didn’t recognize my name on the return address. You don’t know a Joseph Hillard. You only know Joe, the toll taker in Booth Two at mile marker 65 on I-88. You once said I reminded you of your Grandpa Phillip. We’ve talked for 8-20 seconds each day, five days a week for the last five years. I believe the accumulated time makes us friends.
It’s been three weeks since I last saw you at my booth. Two days ago I asked Bill from your car pool where you’ve been. He said you were real sick. He wouldn’t name the medical condition, and I guess I can understand that. Why should he tell me? It’s none of my business.
You may be uneasy that I’ve written you this letter. You’ve never told me your last name, but there are other ways to find out. Working tolls, a guy makes connections. I memorized your plate number long ago. Well, you can figure it out.
How can I help? That’s all I want to know.
If you don’t want my help, just don’t write back. I’ll tear up your address, and you won’t hear from me again. But if you need an extra grandfather or a friend, let me know what I can do.
--Your Friend, Joe
BIOS OF 3rd Issue Poets
Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. Her debut novel, The Rose Master, was published in 2014.
Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, as well as “Best of the Net.” Recent poems are published or forthcoming in Fjords Review, JMWW, Stone Voices, Poemeleon, Ginger Piglet, The Citron Review, 3 Elements Review, The Blue Hour, Stoneboat Review and Think Journal. He is a champion of the underdog who often composes to an obscure power pop soundtrack. His first collection, Small Consolations, is due out in Summer 2015 from The Aldrich Press.
Art Heifetz teaches ESL to refugees in Richmond, Virginia. He has had 160 poems published in 11countries, winning second prize in the Reuben Rose competition in Israel. You can find his work at polishedbrasspoems.com
William Ryan Hillary was born born in Ireland 29 years ago. He was raised in London and New York. He has a B.A. in English from Vassar College, and an M.A. in Systematic Theology from Union Theological Seminary in NYC. He has had poems and/or fiction published by Unrorean, Red Ochre Press (Black and White) Breath and Shadow, 40z Bachelors, Junk, The Wilderness Review, Vox Poetica, BlazeVOX, and Midway Journal. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
Paul Lewellan teaches at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. When he taught high school, he posted his first 99 rejections on the classroom bulletin board for creative writing students to read. Since then he has published over seventy short stories and a novela. His new novel, No More White
Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared in Nimrod, Portland Review, Kestrel, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Boston Poetry Magazine, Gertrude, The Bacon Review, and many others. He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.