Author Archives: GLR Staff

All the Way in Charlevoix

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BY ALEC HERSHMAN

In a Monday rude with sunlight
are each of many, native leaves

I no longer recognize. Two teens
on a bench laugh like lactic acid. One jokes

to the other about his “beef feather”
and the nearest tree seems to be made to be

taller by the smallish song of a new bird
I can scarcely make out. Light jazz like smoke

in its woozy branches. The heft of my stupor
is first lead, then wax, my satisfaction

both fundamental and ridiculous.
Forget the forgetting and my ears in the world

take on a preternatural tone. I am not surprised
at the bridge, for instance, when the siren divides

the town that was two towns in half.

 

Alec Hershman lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has received awards from the Kimmel-Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, The St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, and The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design. More of his work appears in forthcoming issues of Cimarron Review, Western Humanities Review, The Adroit Journal, Bodega, and Columbia: a Journal of the Arts. You can find out more at alechershmanpoetry.com.

Crab Apples

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BY MICHAEL WEBER

My doorbell sang till it was as out of breath as you.
Between huffs you said, you gotta see this,
it’s not too far. Far
meant something different then, a journey beyond
the concrete teeth of our neighborhood. Far
only required an imagination, a small pack,
and still being home for dinner.

You pointed to South Mountain—
the evergreens beyond our parents scream.
I knew well the lower ring of trails, trails
where the road was still visible, trails
who hinted but never dared. This time
at the fork we went up, right
at the white birch that V’d, left
at a mangled blue tent. You always led the way,
bragging about your new slingshot;
in foreign lands shooting acorns out of trees,
until I said, squirrel.

I stand in the road, somewhere
in the middle of thirty-two, looking up
to South Mountain, and I bet
it’s all overgrown—blended too many times,
no visitors to rewrite its way.
I spot a frantic squirrel, maybe red, rushing
from tree to tree, preparing for acorn-less months
this chill air promises will come.
I think of that red squirrel, its ombre’d tail
glowing crimson as it bled out in your hand.
Remember how fast it slipped? How that night
you sold Mickey your slingshot?
You saw my guilt, or maybe I envied your instinct.
I knew you could’ve been born in the trees—
cheeks always camo-ed in soil, callused
hands barking to climb, needing to know
you could survive here, sad
when you learned you could.
You buried that red squirrel in silence, sighed,
it’s just a little further.

We arrived at the orchard, your hands
still sticky with blood, insisting,
you first, I’ve had plenty.
I bit the first apple I saw. My face
went tart. I spit its bitter skin till you cried
laughing, stuttering crab between tears. My face
warmed with joy feigning anger. A jester
pretending to get madder, upon seeing you
roll in the fallen apples with laughter—learning
instincts of my own.

 

Michael Weber is a poet from Binghamton, New York. He has an MA from SUNY Binghamton and an MFA from the University of Tampa. Prior to his graduate studies, he savored a brief career as a professional hockey player in Turkey and New Zealand. His work has appeared in the Triple Cities Carousel. 

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BY SIMON PERCHIK

It’s a simple thing, you weep
and though your eyes are silent
they don’t reach –what you see

is your heart covered with stones
that have no mornings either
except far off where all mist starts

the oceans are grieving on the bottom
holding down your forehead
–so easy a flower could do it

say in its face-up way, Leave!
there will be no more kisses
and from your mouth all Earth

overflows, becomes lips and distances
–that’s why nobody asks you
lets you imagine you see her clearly

knitting a blanket, a white one
rusted needles in both hands, you
walking by, already thorns, roots.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013).  For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

 

Cardinal Call

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BY JEFFREY BILBRO

This afternoon we hung a bird feeder
in our back yard to be more neighborly
with feathered friends, especially the cardinal
we’ve glimpsed.  This evening, in the after dinner calm,
I googled “cardinal call” to learn what song
these brilliant birds could play.  Before the first
recorded clip was through, we heard its echo
from a distant corner of our neighborhood,
and as we played another variation,
the original answered from some closer perch.
At the third or fourth iteration, we saw
the curious red speck in the neighbor’s tree,
still calling, searching for this oddly insistent
intruder.  He finally flew to our back yard
and perched on the tree by our screened-in porch, then cocked
his head and peered toward the sound he’d surely heard.
He flew from branch to branch, then bush to bush,
foiled by this noisy but absent bird.  And when
he flew into a higher tree, one song
from my computer brought him back to the edge
of our porch to peer again, seeking out
the source of this mysterious voice.  Feeling cruel
to frustrate him, we stopped replaying the computer’s
call, and he flew to a high branch to sing
his repertoire again and again: to challenge
this hidden foe? to search for a companion?
merely to do what he did every night?
In all his baffled frantic flying he
did not once notice our proffered seed.

 

Jeffrey Bilbro grew up in the Pacific Northwest and recently moved to southern Michigan, where he’s an Assistant Professor of English at Spring Arbor University. His poetry has appeared in several journals, including The Clarion Review, The Anglican Theological Review, Radix, Windhover, and Christianity and Literature.

Landscape with a Bell Shaped Pond

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BY MARY MAROSTE
Crab Apple.
You stayed limp, the year your trunk split from
bearing too much fruit. I think you were tired &
sore & wanted to make it easier for deer to eat from
you. My mother insisted on saving you, but your
flesh grew around the screws my father used to
mend your spine & they’ve become rusted, bruised
lungs. At night, I hear you whispering to the ground
– lovely thing, you must smell of warm petrichor.
Willow tree.
Your branches, eaten away by beavers, littered the
beaches for weeks. It wasn’t ideal, but you were
happy in this place. Little water bugs & tadpoles
lived on your fingers & arms, you gave them names
& miniature pools. In this small world, you didn’t
mind the lake slime on your body or the holes eaten
away from your fingers. In this small world, these
were kisses.
Yellow Perch.
Hooked through the eye, you flared your gills & cut
my hand open. In my mind, you were dangerous,
even though in the sun your jade scales glittered &
relaxed when my father released you back into the
water.
                                                                             **
Somewhere, deep in the cold winter of Lake Superior, water is
smoothing the large basalt slabs into pebbles &
if you dip your head under the ice, you can hear these dark
hellebore pebbles softly & quietly clicking.

Mary Maroste is a junior at Western Michigan University. She is majoring in Creative Writing and Communication Studies. She has been previously published in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Mochica Review, 3288 Review, 30 N, Winter Tangerine, Sink Hollow, and Jabberwock.

Her chapbook Blueprint for a Home Without Tampons is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2017. She is from Houghton, Michigan, but currently resides and studies in Kalamazoo.

Swap Shop

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BY MICHELLE MATTHEES

Swap Big screen TV for moped. Small wooden antique
ladder, trade for police scanner. 96 Ford Windstar minivan
for small motorhome, bread truck or Ford Ranger pickup.
Antique Kenmore port-able washer, trade for 30.30
Winchester. 715-392-2722.

Swap 2-3 young roosters for 2 male kittens. 218-834-2399.

Swap water heater 40 gallon, gas, less than 1 year old & 4
burner gas range, both almost new and converted to natural
gas. Trade for plane tickets to Philipines or ? (715) 392-
9386.

Swap 5 3 x 8 inch pieces of metalbestos chimney pipe for
firearm or whatever. Swap never used foosball table, was a gift,
for firearm or whatever 218-451-0341.

Michelle Matthees lives in Duluth, Minnesota. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Memorious, PANK, The Prose Poem Project, HAL, and the Baltimore Review. Last October, she published her first book-length book of poetry with New Rivers Press, titled Flucht.

snow

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BY JACK C. BUCK

If you keep walking eventually you can become snow, it takes a while though. If you don’t walk long
enough you just end up getting too cold and wanting to turn back. Worse yet, if you’re really far out,
past that dividing line, you run the risk of dying on the walk back. Instead, better to keep going. Best of all, when you turn into winter, you eventually turn into spring. And who knows what the possibilities are when that happens. Only spring and you will know the answer to that. And maybe better than best of all, you will know the answer to a question that none us who stayed back will ever know.

 

Jack C. Buck lives in Denver, Colorado, where he teaches at a public school. He is the author of the book, Deer Michigan, a collection of 62 flash fiction stories. You can reach him on Twitter @Jack_C_Buck.

I can’t find them in Michigan

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BY BONNIE JILL EMANUEL

These lost people we’re supposed to love. I’ll search a million years. When I can’t
find them around the kitchen counter. When I go looking for my father in a red
velvet casino somewhere down a red velvet street. When I wait on the bench near
the poker pit or in some other ashtray choking. When I call through the smoke
Daddy, is that you, when I run out of ways to run down the freeway screaming,
when aortas hook up with slot machines, when red velvet skies pump down
downtown when cashiers behind ropes clink clink. When a hooker drools down
her lipstick. When I yell across IS THAT YOU does he hear me? These lost things
do they see me? When my mother can’t see the moon or sea. The empty bottle
when I find the phone when they save her life when she’s nearly done when I
punch 9-1-1 when I am 9, or 11 . When she stows her sunglasses in the freezer
last week. When she looks for my face in the sink yesterday. When today she
turns 85. When she can’t remember a thing. When tomorrow I drop my heart
down the soapy dark dishwater to see if it still floats.

Tell me the story of the day I was born, I ask a fine pine outside the kitchen door.

Tell me again why I was named Bonnie, I ask a tire swing swinging

 

 

Bonnie Jill Emanuel is a poetry student in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at The City College of New York. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and Foreign Languages from University of Michigan’s Residential College. Her poems have appeared in The Westchester Review, Podium, 2 Horatio, and Chiron Review. She was born and raised in Detroit

Finally, Then

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BY LAURA GRACE WELDON

After dinner is over, dishes clean,
their porcelain lips stacked in smiles
behind the cupboard door.

After your desk is organized,
emails sent, final draft finished,
your to-do list a flock of check marks
like migratory birds flapping
down the column and out
to the horizon of a light-suffused land
called Everything is Done.

Finally, you can do whatever it is
you say you’ve always wanted to do.
Or not said, because naming can sometimes
dilute a dream’s dark essence.

But there’s bank overdraft to fix,
unread library books to return,
another doctor’s appointment,
and these days when you accelerate,
your car makes a screaming noise
like a small trapped animal.
You can picture its curled body,
dark eyes, terrified your speed
will toss it onto the moving parts
of a machine made only to go go go.
Maybe, after you get it fixed,
clear up a few other things,
finally, then, you’ll have time.

 

 

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and a handbook of alternative education, Free Range Learning, with a book of essays is due out soon. She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she’d get more done if she didn’t spend so much time reading library books, cooking weird things, and singing to livestock. Her background includes teaching classes in memoir and poetry, leading nonviolence workshops, writing poetry with nursing home residents, facilitating support groups for abuse survivors, and writing sardonic greeting cards. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com

Ann Arbor

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BY BEN GUNSBERG

Our landlord said we should find a hotel
while he tacked and stained the oak floors,
but we were broke, so Pop pitched a tent
in the backyard beside the great tree,
where my mind climbed among fruit
flies and caterpillars, hungry for cherries
I couldn’t reach. Only birds and Mr. Dodge,
our landlord, balanced on his ladder, angling
his silver pole with telescopic extension,
could pluck those rubies I would later
link to Plato tending his fire, Freud
and Marx. He passed a few down,
and we stuffed our mouths and pockets.
At night we lay on foam mats
beneath a single sheet, July’s wet heat.
Those blinking hours before sleep,
I assessed the seams, triangular panels
that composed a ceiling, nylon mesh
through which I watched branches bow.
Cherries dropped safe as snow falling
into snow until, by chance, one struck
the tent’s taut roof. Mom stirred,
shifted her weight. The unborn child
stuck in breech stomped her bladder.
I remember she unzipped the door,
crawled out like a she-animal, low-slung
middle scraping the tent’s under-lip.
She hiked her nightgown, and I heard
water (not blood), smelled rotten fruit,
not the iron tang that would linger state
to state—doctors’ bills, late fees—at least
he’s alive, they said. A miracle to wake
early and hear his voice, brother born
blue who needs a little money.
He’s looking for an apartment.
His girlfriend carries a baby.

 


Ben Gunsberg is an Assistant Professor of English at Utah State University. He earned an M.F.A. from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His poetry appears in CutBank, The Southeast Review, and The South Carolina Review, among other magazines. He is the author of the chapbook Rhapsodies with Portraits (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His poetry manuscript, Cut Time, won the University of Michigan’s Hopwood Award for Poetry Writing. Though a Michigander at heart, he now lives in Logan, Utah, at the foot of the Bear River Mountains.