Visitors by Liza McAlister Williams
Red Georgia clay bordered the road
on the way from Augusta.
We saw the square white house
as we came through a woodsy patch
just as visitors would have come
upon it in their buckboard wagon
two hundred years ago.
The old lady still lived there
and she told her teenaged grandson
with the pale ivory forehead decorated
in the exact center by a jet-
black spit-curl, to take us
out to the woods and show us
the family plot, fenced with wrought iron,
final resting place of five generations.
The boy’s Christian name was the surname
on all the tilting headstones.
In the dining room a fancy wood grain
had been applied on the doors
with a turkey feather by an itinerant
painter; cracks in the ancient paint
now made a spidery counterpoint.
The doors were three feet wide
and the worn planks in the floor
at least eighteen inches apiece, sawn
from virgin timber felled not far away.
Later, on our brief tour of the upstairs,
we gazed down from broad windows
swagged in once-white organdy,
and saw the faint outlines of the foundations
of slave cabins out back. Nothing else
was left of that aspect of the past –
no cabins, no graveyard, just
the red gash of the road continuing on
to another dark green patch of piney woods.
Untitled by Simon Perchik
To grip the Earth you climb
as if this paint
is still not sure it’s safe
and though they’re white
waves don’t last in the dark
–each rung by now
in that slow rollover
they were trained for, one
to stay white, the others
bleeding as rain and step by step
–this ladder is losing curvature
leans against the house
half ramp, half shoreline
and all these stars
still clinging to sunlight
are used to your hand over hand
and yes, spilling a few drops
the way every sea is filled
overflows, lets you drink
from a sky that will light up
as if nothing happened.
Untitled by Simon Perchik
And though the flames are hidden
you still drink it black –spoons
are useless, aimlessly circle down
the way you once added cream, sugar
clouds –you level off so your hand
takes longer to climb back
let the cup burn your lips
as sunlight wedged between –you yell
though no one becomes suspicious
sees the fire starting up again
–it’s a simple first-thing-in-the-morning
so no one is the wiser and sometimes
a darker darkness is lured alongside
where you tighten till this cup begins
its slow turn into madness and your arms.
On Eating at a Japanese Steak House and Debating Virginia’s Southernness by Will Mullins
The warm bowls with a hint of onion
are slipped before each customer.
Greetings pass among dining strangers.
With the arrival of gingered lettuce,
a question is set forth by the locals
about the tourists’ home state.
Seafood brings a response – Virginia.
The locals smile and add
“Oh, it would be cold up north right now!”
Desperate for a defense of
dearly held southern-ness,
the leading tourist replies
“Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy!”
Someone within earshot
stopped to consider
the relative absurdity of such debate
in the presence of an Americanized, Asian steak.
About the Contributors
Liza McAlister Williams lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, where she and her husband have raised two daughters amid the pleasures and challenges of old-house-living and urban gardening. For many years she has taught writing and literature at The Pratt Institute, an art and design college, and enjoys exploring with students the interplay of idea and form in multiple mediums. Her poems can be found, among other places, in Mezzo Cammin, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, The New Hopkins Review, Blue Unicorn, Light Quarterly, Pasque Petals, Poethead, and Measure as a runner-up in the Howard Nemerov sonnet competition.
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The B Poems published by Poets Wear Prada, 2016. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at http://www.simonperchik.com.
Will Mullins is a poet and screenwriter. His verse has appeared in Half Tones to Jubilee, Riverwind, REAL: The Journal of Liberal Arts, Limestone, Cyclamens and Swords Magazine, Scrittura Magazine, California Quarterly, and Orange Coast Review. He resides in the coastal filming hub of Wilmington, North Carolina.