After the Rehearsal, We’re at Rex’s Roadhouse in St. Paul

16592440438_58ce40750f_b

BY RODNEY TORRESON

where saddles hang from the rafters;
lassos brand the menus. If my friend Tom’s
feeling roped into this marriage, he doesn’t show it,
as he impersonates his profs at med school,
gets us laughing so hard our heads
are almost under the table
before coming up for air. But, later, behind
the restroom door, with its hearts and spades
and interlocking six-shooters,
Tom and I at the urinals, he stares at the wall
and says, “I won’t be at the church tomorrow.
Do what you want—stay away or show up.”

 

I feel like we’re the bad guys at the O.K. Corral
in a shootout with the Earp brothers.
“You should tell Robin, “I tell him, but wash my hands of it. “I can’t,” he says,
then it’s rock’n roll, with Tom drumming
the towel dispenser, singing the Bee Gees,
the song he’d wail and knuckle the table to
at the campus canteen when we were undergrads:
“I gotta get a message to you. Hold on, hold on.
One more hour and my life will be through,”
he sings through a grin.

 

Tom’s only message, though, is for me,
as I cringe for Robin’s family from Brooklyn,
friendly folks, not a woolly eye among them, who’d close
the great divide between the Midwest and the coast.
But the next day, without ceremony,
Robin’s plopped on the floor of the church vestibule,
family circling her in the aching off-limits,
her dress, hopped up on frills, looks more for mopping
than a sweep train, and I, standing around,
hands in my pocket, relieved I can’t reach her,
pretending to know nothing, and not once sensing
how a stone rubs up against the truth.

 

Rodney Torreson was the poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2007-2010, He is the author of four books, his most recent, THE SECRETS OF FIELDWORK, a chapbook of poems published by Finishing Line Press in 2010. his two full-length books are A BREATHABLE LIGHT (New Issues Press) and THE RIPENING OF PINSTRIPES (Story Line Press). In addition, his work has appeared in many anthologies and literary journals, including THE BELOIT POETRY JOURNAL, LOUISVILLE REVIEW, POET LORE and TAR RIVER POETRY.

Michigan Bestseller list for July 2017

ALL BOOKS FOR JULY 2017

1) Daniel Silva, “House of Spies” (HarperCollins Publishers)

2) Patricia Polacco, “The Blessing Cup: A Companion to The Keeping Quilt” (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster)

3) Karen Dionne, “The Marsh King’s Daughter: A Novel” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

4) Patricia Polacco, “Meteor!” (Puffin Books/Penguin Books)

5) Patricia Polacco, “The Keeping Quilt” (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster)

6) Patricia Polacco, “Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln: A chilling journey through time to the Civil War” (Puffin Books/Simon & Schuster)

7) Ann Patchett, “Commonwealth: A Novel” (HarperCollins Publishers)

8) Patricia Polacco, “Thank You, Mr. Falker” (Philomel Books/Penguin Books)

9) Julie Buntin, “Marlena: A Novel” (Henry Holt and Co./Macmillan)

10) Colleen Coble, “Beneath Copper Falls: A Rock Harbor Novel” (HarperCollins Publishers)Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 11.18.54 AM

U.P. FOR JULY 2017

1) Karen Dionne, “The Marsh King’s Daughter: A Novel” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

2) Colleen Coble, “Beneath Copper Falls: A Rock Harbor Novel” (HarperCollins Publishers)

3) Roxane Gay, “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” (HarperCollins Publishers)

4) Kath Usitalo, “100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die” (Reedy Press)

5) Adam Schuitema, “The Things We Do That Make No Sense: Stories” (Switchgrass Books)

6) John Smolens, “Wolf’s Mouth: A Novel” (Michigan State University Press)

7) Dan Egan, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” (W.W. Norton & Company)

8) Louise Erdrich,  “LaRose: A Novel” (HarperCollins Publishers)

9) Russell M. Magnaghi, “Prohibition in the Upper Peninsula: Booze & Bootleggers on the Border” (The History Press)

10) Charlie LeDuff, “Detroit: An American Autopsy” (Penguin Books) [tie]

10) Ronald Riekki, “And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017” (Michigan State University Press) [tie]

The Michigan Bestseller List for July 2017 lists books about Michigan topics, written by Michigan authors, and/or published by Michigan publishers, compiled by Ron Riekki from fifteen Michigan bookstores: Bookbug in Kalamazoo, www.bookbugkalamazoo.com; Brilliant Books in Traverse City, http://www.brilliant-books.net/; Dog Ears Books in Northport,www.dogearsbooks.net/; Island Bookstore in Mackinaw City and on Mackinac Island, http://www.islandbookstore.com/; Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo,http://www.kazoobooks.com/; Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, www.michigannews.biz/; Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, nicolasbooks.com; North Wind Books in Hancock, https://bookstore.finlandia.edu/; Pages Bookshop in Detroit, www.pagesbkshop.com/; Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, www.saturnbooksellers.com; Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Okemos, schulerbooks.com; and Snowbound Books in Marquette, http://www.snowboundbooks.com/.

Windsor, Ontario: Mount Francis

Windsor Star Demo (2013)BY CASSANDRA CAVERHILL

This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

For fourteen weeks
the grasses grew
so high they turned
to accidental prairies.

The union tossed bottles
and wire hangers
into the parks
to stop residents
from mowing down
their wages, confronting
scabs in the fields
as they pushed
through the tangles.

The artists threw
seed bombs
into empty lots and
erected official-looking
habitat signs along the edges,
hoping that the wildflowers
would stay once
the dust of
mediation settled.

On Central Ave
the picketers chain-smoked
along a trash heap
dubbed Mount Francis,
after the mayor—
a businessman

balancing budgets
post-recession—
while squawking seagulls
circled above signs sporting
“No 2-tiers!”
“No takeaways!”

As the auto factories
hemorrhaged jobs,
folks flocked west
to the oil sands,
leaving those who remained
to undercut each other
for what was left of
the middle,
collecting garbage
for a dollar per bag.

It took a hundred-and-one days
for resentments to peak,
for the divisions sown
to overrun the parks,
the pools, the pavement.

It took a hundred-and-two-days
for the politicians
to trim the wilderness
back into a shape
that could be
controlled;

for the workers
to take their concessions
and clear the streets
of rot and rats; and

for the pundits
to market our descent
as a model for cities
being bled dry.

Cassandra Caverhill is a poet from Windsor, Ontario. She currently lives and writes in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dream in Which a Coonhound Reckons the World

an acrostic Redbone Coonhound poem

redbone-coonhound1

BY GEORGE KALAMARAS

Ran into the woods, dream after dream,
easily lost in the sorrow-well of human dross.
Damned if I didn’t find me a hound,
backwoods-bred, Scottish red, calling my name,
ordinary-like, as if it was natural for a dog to speak—
not with the mouth but through the eye.
Eerie. But kindly so. Ginseng-brain—‘sang. Foxfire-wide.

Could not have been more right. Could
only be fear fencing other fears. Conjugating—confiscating—my heart.
Only be split rails or river rock, stone-walling off the world.
Not that it mattered in the dream. Franz Kafka.
How could he be there? Dark. Brooding. Scribbling onto a coon-hide.
Ordinary-like. And so much of me I wanted to turn
under the earth, as a way to reinvent flower-shape and size.
Not this, not that, the yogi from India—suddenly seated in the sycamores—spoke into the
        leaves.
Didn’t matter. Knew it was best to follow the hound, deeper, more deeply, where I lay,
        lying, lied.

 

George Kalamaras, former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016), is the author of fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011), and The Theory and Function of Mangoes, winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series (2000). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.

EARRINGS

Earrings by Leslie Brown imageBY LESLIE BROWN

I never been on this part of Hastings Street. This part is not like Grandma’s street. Maybe it’s different here cause all the buildings come up to the sidewalk, and the street starts right next to the sidewalk, so the only place that grass has to grow is between the sidewalk’s cracks.

Even in this heat, there are a lot of people on the street around here: People are standing in front of buildings fanning themselves, playing checkers, or just standing around and gossiping. Ladies and girls standing on the street, all made-up red lips, like the ladies in the movies, fixed-up for a party. There was one lady who didn’t have on make-up. Her hair was messed up, and her face was puffy; she looked sad.

Sometimes Grandma and me have to step into the street to get around the people. I don’t think they were trying to keep us off their street. They just didn’t have no other place to be, the sidewalks around here is just too skinny for people to be sitting and for people to be walking.

Even the cars on the street act funny, the people driving them didn’t seem in a hurry. I saw a car stop near the ladies and the sad looking lady went over to the car and lean against its door, and talked to the person inside. Then she opened the door and got into it.

Continue reading

What Work Isn’t

dumpster

BY TRACY MISHKIN

You’re building a machine that turns everything
into a joke. Pallets, clotheslines, odd bits
of hose. Every project half-finished or never quite
begun. How is sodden carpet worth saving?

I yank weeds, snatch black plastic mats, and load
the wheelbarrow again. Sweat spatters my glasses.
When rain comes, I slog on. Junk limps
into the dumpster—bricks and rakes and bones
the dog has long abandoned.

When I ask for help, you say the grass is wet
and you are wearing sandals. Your asthma is acting up.
You fell asleep on the couch. You late
and lazy bastard. I should throw you in that dumpster,
change the locks, and make love to the silence.

 

Tracy Mishkin is a call center veteran with a PhD and a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Butler University. She is the author of two chapbooks, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and The Night I Quit Flossing (Five Oaks Press, 2016). 

The Answer to Your Question is, “Benevolence, Trees, and Horses”

image (1)
BY CAL FREEMAN

Considering a height that sheers
to concrete,
you remember that backyard elm from
your youth with its three forking boles,
how you’d lay a two-by-four
between them as a bridge
and move among the upper branches
on that precarious scaffolding
as if you couldn’t come to peril,
as if, looking down at the rounded backs
of garden stones, soul and providence
were givens. One night
as a summer storm approached,
you climbed to better hear
the dry leaves sing and to feel
the way the whole tree swayed
to keep from breaking, reaching
toward the fence line
and the dark ground. Years later
you took to horses in the same oblivious way,
bucked a dozen times into sand
and gravel and dirt, somehow never
busting a bone in any of those falls.
You’d read that trees speak
to each other through their roots, sharing sugars,
huddling against wind, and that their peril
was in being alone—they willfully
give us nothing and it might, after all,
be incorrect to speak of single trees—
suckers, widowmakers—but copses,
stands, and forests, whole subterranean
networks of roots and molds—
but isolated crowns in gales still resemble
the head of a panicked Arabian fleeing
your white-knuckled grip
and your shrill voice at a dead gallop.

 

Cal Freeman’s writing has appeared in many journals including Commonweal, The Cortland Review, The Journal, Passages North, and Hippocampus. He is the recipient of the Howard P. Walsh Award for Literature, The Ariel Poetry Prize, and The Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes). He has also been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in poetry and creative nonfiction, as well as Best of the Net and Best American Poetry. His collection, Brother of Leaving, was published by Marick Press, and his chapbook, Heard Among the Windbreak, was published by Eyewear Publishing (London). Freeman’s book, Fight Songs, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in the fall of 2017.

Three Emily Poems

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 11.48.26 AM

BY DARREN C. DEMAREE

 

EMILY AS DEEP NIGHT

Reclined in the back
of a borrowed black
& gold truck, Emily

& I are not lost
& we cannot be found
& the short, metal valley

we’ve claimed as shelter
in the unending Ohio
night, is just enough

cover to leave fingerprints
all over the epic.
We are the evidence.

 

EMILY AS SHE’S NEVER BEEN MINE

Do you think
that Emily
isn’t choosing

these words?
She dressed
as fire

for Halloween
& now all
I can think

about is Emily
as fire
& she knows

that. I am
simple. She
knows that.

I am the act
of typing
& I am hers

& she is putting
together one hell
of a mythology.

 

EMILY AS THE ROOTS REMEMBER THE BLACK DIRT

I’ve had sex with Emily.
I am not, currently,
having sex with Emily.

This terrible withering
has me longing to be
fed by her existence.

I need to learn to
appreciate the sun without
feeling like I must

take over the garden.

 

Darren C. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly” (2016, 8th House Publishing), and the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. His poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

 

Dear Ms. Ainsley

BY JOEL STREICKER

April 2, 2003

Ms. Wendy Ainsley

Greenmoor Country Club

Winnetka, Ill.

Dear Ms. Ainsley,

I wanted to phone you after receiving your voice message last Thursday but thought it would be better if I wrote as I can put my feelings down better on paper. I purposely didn’t call either because of the guilt I felt for leaving such a rude message on your voice mail. I sincerely hope you can forgive me ‘cause I’m not a bad guy. I’ve been married for almost 56 years to the same blond girl I met after I got out of the Navy in 1946; I helped raise three great children the oldest just retired from Warner Brothers record Co. as their Senior VP, in charge of business and legal affairs; A Cum Laude student at Harvard University; a daughter who was rated the best attorney at the U.S. Government Legal Office in Portland, Oregon; the youngest son an anthropologist and an instructor at Stanford University. So what I’m saying is, I must of done something right although they didn’t get the brains from me; they all came from the blonde. I majored in football, baseball, and tennis in high school and college.

Continue reading

Michigan Bestseller List for May 2017

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 12.29.04 PM1) Dan Egan, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” (W.W. Norton & Company)

2) David Maraniss, “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story” (Simon & Schuster)

3) Steve Hamilton, “Exit Strategy: A Nick Mason Novel” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

4) Sarah Shoemaker, “Mr. Rochester: A Novel” (Grand Central Publishing)

5) Josh Malerman, “Black Mad Wheel: A Novel” (Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers)

6) Viola Shipman, “the hope chest: A Novel” (Thomas Dunne Books/Macmillan)

7) Betsy Bird, “Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. EVER.” (Viking Books for Young Readers)

8) Michel Arnaud, “Detroit: The Dream is Now—The Design, Art, and Resurgence of an American City” (Harry N. Abrams)

9) Steve Hamilton, “The Second Life of Nick Mason” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

10) Adam Schuitema, “The Things We Do That Make No Sense: Stories” (Switchgrass Books)

 

Upper Peninsula Bestseller List for May 2017

1) Dan Egan, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” (W.W. Norton & Company)

2) Steve Hamilton, “Exit Strategy: A Nick Mason Novel” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

3) Steve Hamilton, “The Second Life of Nick Mason” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

4) Adam Schuitema, “The Things We Do That Make No Sense: Stories” (Switchgrass Books)

5) Jim Harrison, “A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand” (Grove Press)

6) Steve Hamilton, “A Cold Day in Paradise” (St. Martin’s Press)

7) Kath Usitalo, “100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die” (Reedy Press)

8) Jack Driscoll, “Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot” (Wayne State University Press)

9) Louise Erdrich, “LaRose: A Novel” (HarperCollins Publishing)

9) Ernest Hemingway, “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway” (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)

Tagged ,