Category Archives: Words

God Hates Cleveland

By Frank J. Aleksandrowicz, via Wikimedia Commons

By Frank J. Aleksandrowicz, via Wikimedia Commons

BY TRENT CHABOT

It was still an hour until tip-off and Dad was already ashing his cigarette into his coffee. This was the moment he’d waited his entire life for, he said. The moment that his father had waited his entire life for—may God rest his soul—and goddamn it, he would’ve deserved it, he said. We were born and bred and exiled in Cleveland and we deserved this. It was game seven. The Cavs and the Warriors. The blue collar versus the Silicon Valley yuppies. LeBron James had come home. Cleveland deserved this. I know we deserved this, and Dad didn’t need to tell me that.

“Where’s Joe?” I asked.

“He’s on his way, Jerry,” Dad said.

“He better be,” I said. “If he ain’t here and we lose because he had to get his nuts licked, this is on him.”

“He’ll be here,” Dad said.

We’d watched every game of the Finals together. Me, Dad, and Joe. Joe was Dad’s childhood friend. He’d started coming around more when Mom died six years ago when I was eleven. Occasionally Dad’s whores from earlier in the day would stay for a little bit and watch the beginning of the games, but Dad always kicked them out. Dad didn’t want commitment. He just wanted someone to make him a sandwich and suck his dick every now and then.

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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

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
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.

A Dam Is a Promise

Courtesy Ohio DNR

Courtesy Ohio DNR

BY MICHAEL SALISBURY

Before Buckeye Lake dam failed, Noah’s Ark was a Little Golden Book on Jon Fortner’s daughter’s bookshelf.

Before Buckeye Lake dam failed, it had gone by other names. In 1750, the area that would become Buckeye Lake was described as a great swamp known as “Buffalo Lick.” When filled in 1830, the lake was known as “Licking Summit Reservoir.” And in May 1894, the lake was repurposed for recreation, the area being dedicated as a public park and renamed “Buckeye Lake.”

Before Buckeye Lake dam failed, engineers from the U.S. Army Corps said there was a high likelihood of a dam failure and the safest measure would be to drain the lake permanently. The cause of concern stemmed from the homes, which began sprouting up about a century ago, after the state’s approval, as well as the docks placed into the lakeside of the dam that have now “displaced or disrupted large portions of the embankment, significantly weakened by the more than 370 homes and other structures that have been sunk into the 4.1-mile earthen dam.” The 177-year-old dam no longer met current safety requirements.

Before Buckeye Lake dam failed, recommendations were made for immediately replacing the dam to prevent a ” catastrophic failure.”

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“Tangents Are The Point” Q & A with Milwaukee author Todd Lazarski

Todd at a Dunkirk social club

Todd at a Dunkirk social club

Q&A with Milwaukee author Todd Lazarski as he romanticizes and sometimes denigrates: Chris Paul; sarcasm’s hidden kindness; self-destruction as research; necessary meanness in food writing; and thoughts of his father, dead at 39

BY JUSTIN KERN

Todd Lazarski, 33, quietly compartmentalizes his obsessions, sort of shadowboxes that he knows have to see sun, even if it’s when they’re getting tossed. Inside-turned-out, Todd found relief in the release of his first novel, “Make the Road by Walking” (June 2016, on Cleveland’s Red Giant Books), a familiar-feeling journal across the Midwest, New Orleans and California. He has realized personal space as a “fat guy” – pretend or otherwise – devouring the world 10 dinners at a time, in Rio de Janeiro, Buffalo and Milwaukee, in pieces for Paste, TimeOut, Shepherd Express and Milwaukee Record. His next exposition will be a second novel, “Spend It All”, a reckoning of idiotic youth with whatever the hell it is that compels us to trudge ahead and try into near adulthood, chicken finger sub in hand (you can read an excerpt here; he’s currently playing matchmaker with a publisher).

I met Todd a few years ago due to the Buffalo Bills, the team of our respective home fields in western New York though we had both been transplanted to Milwaukee. Along with the yeoman’s bliss from running back Fred Jackson, we shared Jim Harrison and Stanley Elkin books, and realized it’d be easier to be friends than to tough it out as isolated fans. This past December, we went on a road trip for readings at the marvelous Mac’s Books in Cleveland and a book release in Buffalo. These acts pulled Todd further from internalized roiling over writing and out into its small but not-always-wretched public aspects. The following unabashedly long-form Q&A is an extrapolation on that tangent – a dialogue of poignancy and personal jabs, edited (honestly!) for flow, from two nights in early March in Milwaukee.

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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

pexels-photo-176103

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

Far Behind

hair_metalBY MICHAEL ZADOORIAN

You’re out of the car, I’m afraid you’ve been declined

You shake my hand while you’re pissing on my leg

“Are you playing that stupid Social Distortion song again?” Chloe calls from outside the bathroom, for what seems like the thousandth time.

From behind the bathroom door, Roge ignores her again, for what seems like the thousandth time.

“Why are you doing this?” she says, her voice fluttering somewhere between bored and irritated.

Roge can hear that edge in her voice, especially through the hollow-core bathroom door, which he has found to be a rather effective conductor of anger.  He takes a deep breath to compose himself.  “I’m not doing anything.  I’m just getting ready for work.”

“You play this fucking song every morning is what you’re doing.”

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Ann Arbor

Tree image for Great Lakes Rev

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.