Issue 2.4

 Slave Quarters by David Radavich

In Mississippi

This is where
they kept their chattel.

Where hail
on the tin roofs
felt like
a pale echo
of the real torture.

No chains in sight
but no beds, rotting wood,
windows boarded up,
smell of
damned living
sun-baked
in the humid walls.

Tourists can now
visit like ghosts,
stroll through
the gates,
even stay the night

and leave
with the wind
clutching their phones.

Somewhere near
a loved one was sold
like an arm,

a leg ripped off
for the fields
of the always reborn.

Grief doesn’t
recognize colors
or flags
or slogans

or an afternoon
of eyes
walking in shame.

 

Gillnetting by Ann Howells

August unrolls its blanket of heat;
bored with games, toys, books,
first day of school seems eons away.
We pull a gillnet from the shed,
haul it to the island creek. Even the fish
are listless, drowse in crevasses
and dark holes. We drive poles
into soft mud, stretch net,
watch it bow in slow-moving tide,
capture whatever cannot squirm beneath
or soar above – perch, a catfish or two.

We smoke stolen cigarettes, swap lies
and gossip, try to curse a bit, make whistles
from split grasses, each louder than the last,
pinch off honeysuckle blossoms,
suck nectar from the narrow base,
climb wild cherries, try to fill our bellies
with small fruits that are mostly seed,
see who spits furthest, carve our names
in a young pine, stain hands with sap
that does not rinse away. Pine tar,
Grandma calls it.

Finally we draw in the net;
fish wedged by gills in its narrow weave
go into a water bucket. Crabs,
too stubborn to let go when pulled
from the water, are tossed in a basket.
We trudge home –
providers returning from the hunt –
scale and gut our catch, spread netting
atop the euonymus hedge to dry.
Mother rolls our catch in cornmeal,
fries them up in bacon grease.

Paret, Widowed by Ann Howells

No one around to see her
place two dozen neat jars of piccalilli
on the sideboard.
Lids seal by vacuum pull,
only the rims to be tightened
come morning.
No one around to see her
wipe her brow on apron hem
day’s heat still clinging.

She plunges hands beneath the tap
holds them there a while
savoring rush of cool water,
dries them on her apron,
reaches for the lotion
she keeps beside the sink.
They are an old woman’s hands:
nails ridged, so thickened
she trims them with a knife.
How odd, when her skin grows thin,
translucence revealing veins
as blue calligraphy.

She trudges to the bedroom,
consigns her blue gingham,
to the hall tree Auty fashioned
steam-bending the poplar.
Settling before her mirror
she unpins her hair.
Stars tonight seem within reach.
In the stillness, she listens
for the repeated low cough
of a two-cylinder engine—
something illicit, running, no doubt,
without lights.
Here on this island justice and legality
are different concepts;
necessity trumps both.

Daddy’s Hounds by Virginia Schnurr

Sara Pavlov warmed milk
snuck the lab dogs tidbits
wept for her son
bleeding to death
for the White Army.

Pavlov left for vacation
the same day every year
until his son died
then insomnia got him.

I offer my hand
to my father’s favorite pup
who snarls,
bites me.

Maybe what I’m wearing,
how I smell
or how I offer my hand
I tender the other —-

I’m from the South
where we use our dogs to kill.

Drunken daddies salivate over
blood from bitches
smacks on our asses.

Would Sara Pavlov’s
bourbon soaked treats
in the night
satisfy daddy’s hand trained bitches?

About the Contributors

David Radavich‘s poetry collections include America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Canonicals: Love’s Hours (2009), and Middle-East Mezze (2011). His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe. His latest books are The Countries We Live In (2014) and a co-edited volume called Magic Again: Selected Poems on Thomas Wolfe (2016). He lives in Charlotte, NC and is current president of the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Ann Howells edits Illya’s Honey, recently taking it digital:www.IllyasHoney.com and taking on a co-editor with whom she alternates issues. Her publications are: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag), Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press), Letters for My Daughter (Flutter Press), and Cattlemen & Cadillacs, an anthology of D/FW poets she edited (Dallas Poets Community Press). Her poems appear widely; she has four Pushcart nominations. Her chapbook manuscript, Softly Beating Wings, won the William D. Barney Chapbook Contest 2017.

Virginia Schnurr’s poetry appears in such literary reviews as Primavera, Fox Cry Review, Calyx, So to Speak, Nightsun, Thin Air, Worcester Review, Confluence, Controlled Burn, and Eureka Literary Magazine. She works a few days a week at Henion Bakery, a singular, almost European place.

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