Issue 1.9

Red Clay by Savannah Brooks

I was born in Chicago, but it doesn’t matter;
when I hear clay, I think red.

Not beige or grey or dirty water brown.
Red. Like the color of a swamp-water sunset.

Roots must be strong to thrive in red clay.
And when roots myriad away, clay must be strong too.

Magnolia blossoms etched in red-clay fingerprints
embroider the lawn of the house on the swamp.

My family collects, connects, disperses.
Planes take me over green and yellow patchwork.

But I remember red. Like leather-bound hymnals,
pages curling in Christmas humidity.

Like shade on pine needles, cattail’s shedding,
water-worn paint on the overturned canoe.

Like dirty water brown clay mixed with blood.
Heart clay. The kind that pulses in heat.

My skin may be pale from timid northern sun,
but its underside is stained red.

Four Homesick Haikus by Roberta Feins

Dry crumpled oak leaf
Picked up and blown by the wind
Bird on winter ground
How could a tree have
too many blossoms? Branch breaks
under its own weight
Enclosed in ice
A chestnut burr
Hangs alone from a branch
In the North, pine trees
do not bend so low
from the weight of ice

In December by Michael Lee Johnson

In December Miami sun
stands out on the southern
tip of Florida like a full-
blossomed orange,
wind torn sunshine eats away
at those Florida skies.

Spanish accents echo through
Caribbean Boulevard loud
like an old town crier
misplaced in a metro suburb.

Off the east coast ninety miles,
westward winds carry inward
the foreign sounds lifting off
Castro’s larynx,
and the faint smell of an
old musty Cuban cigar
touches the sand and the shoreline.

Blue by Helga Kidder

                     – after reading Robert Morgan

July is the blue month. In Tennessee
bluebirds throat matins as day struts time
through the hills. Leaves begin mourning,
having lost spring months ago. Bluegrass
strains circle front porch rockers where
sweet tea ices tongues and hydrangeas
loosen their grips in tinted hues of smoke.
Tropical rain cools tree tents for an hour,
prompts hosta fronds to raise faint heads.
Along roads wild wisteria twines like grapes,
climbs higher than children needing to touch
the sky. Day deepens to an ocean above
floating cloud islands until night’s lapis darkens
rooms, unlatches doors for tomorrow’s souls.


About the Contributors

Savannah Brooks is a graduate student pursuing her MFA in creative writing at Hamline University. She works as the assistant fiction editor of Hamline’s national literary annual, the the Water~Stone Review, and the production editor of Hamline’s graduate literary annual, rock, paper, scissors. She lives in the most beautiful literary capital: Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Roberta Feins received her MFA in poetry from New England College. Her poems have been published in Five AM, Antioch Review, The Cortland Review and The Gettysburg Review, among others.  Her chapbook Something Like a River, was published by Moon Path Press in 2013.  Roberta edits the e-zine Switched On Gutenberg.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 875 small press magazines online and in print. His poems have appeared in twenty-seven countries as of this date, he edits, publishes ten different poetry sites.He also has 91 poetry videos on YouTube.

Helga Kidder is a native of Germany’s Black Forest and now lives in the hills of Tennessee. She was awarded an MFA from Vermont College, is co-founder of the Chattanooga Writers Guild, and leads their poetry group. Her poems have been published in numerous journals, most recently in Haight Asbury Literary Journal, Tipton Poetry Review, Avocet, and in Poems for the Twenty-First Century anthology: River of Earth and Sky. She has three collections of poetry, Wild Plums (2012), Luckier than the Stars (2013), and Blackberry Winter (2016).