Category Archives: Poetry

Michigan over Matter

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BY BETH PETERSON

Three months in Michigan and suddenly
I’m writing knock-off poems in my head
I turn off lights that were never on
I prepare for a time change five weeks in advance
I watch a long line of men, shovels in hand,
pitching it into the night and I think
maybe
one day
I’ll be like them,
smooth, easy, rhythmic,
seeing it all like paper on grass, seafoam on cars
over-exposed photographs
or something less crushing
Me, I’m always throwing it all into trees
and wondering what will come down

A wilderness guide before she began writing, Beth Peterson has an MFA from the University of Wyoming and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Missouri. Her writing has appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Passages North, Post Road, The Pinch and other publications. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she’s an assistant professor in Grand Valley State University’s writing program. 

Fall football in the leaves

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BY BETH PETERSON

 

It’s a sweatpants day
Phil launches the football
            into my memory
the slant of the light there
is red, not the red of a match-just-struck
but something cleaner
where runs always crunch into quarter
sand what we forgive is the cool air
with hot cocoa in tall metal thermoses
that somebody’s mom sent along
and sweatshirts collide
with the weekend dusk
while we run touchdowns
over the leaf covered line
the last football days
fall in our lives together

 

A wilderness guide before she began writing, Beth Peterson has an MFA from the University of Wyoming and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Missouri. Her writing has appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Passages North, Post Road, The Pinch and other publications. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she’s an assistant professor in Grand Valley State University’s writing program. 

A Coven in a Small Town

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BY CAREY MILLSAP-SPEARS

meets every Thursday night
across from the pizza joint
and the all-night gas station.

One-by-one, they enter
a run-down strip mall space
and suck in the flavored-smoke
slinking off the incense stick.

Behind the industrial-glass door,
the coven gathers in secret
to learn the old arts
and to buy new, mass-produced and

overpriced supplies.
Everything here seems desirable,
where twinkle lights temper
the glowing overhead fluorescents.

One-day-a-week, they practice
divination, recite incantations,
and trade home-brew recipes
before putting children to bed and watching a little TV.

Leaving together, thirteen
weekday witches living nowhere special
wave at the local folks filling up
while cackling off into the night.

Carey Millsap-Spears is a writer and teacher living in Hobart, Indiana. She’s lived most of her life in Northwest Indiana—also known as the Region. Her academic work has been published in Studies in Popular Culture and The Dark Arts Journal.Carey’s poetry has appeared in the GNU journal. She holds a MFA in creative writing, poetry and a Master of Arts in English and is Professor of Communications/Literature at Moraine Valley Community College.

Ashtabula, Ohio: The Biker

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BY ELIZABETH DEVORE

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

The bike wobbles as he turns his head
to say hello to the girl and her dog
and the handlebars swerve the way they do
the first time the training wheels come off, but
he’s been riding for seventy years now.

Once, he could throw a paper and hit
the front door of every customer on his route,
one hand on the bars, the other swinging up
over his head, fingers following the paper
towards the stoop, but now
he must keep both hands gripped firm
just to stay upright.

Once, he could ride to the lake with a pretty girl
perched on the front, her auburn hair blowing
into his eyes, her giggles filling the air
as they coasted down the hill, but now
he has to concentrate on lifting his own heavy knees
with each rotation of the pedals.

Once, he could ride on the road with cars whizzing
while his children weaved down the walk beside him
on their way to the Squire Shoppe Bakery
for donuts each Saturday, but now
the cars threaten his stability and he must shift
back to the spot his children vacated years ago.

Elizabeth Devore teaches English at Kent State University at Ashtabula. She loves exploring her harbor neighborhood with her dog and meeting the retirees who have spent their lives making this city a place she has come to love.

Carp at the Gates

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BY RENNY GOLDEN
 
They have been swimming for years
silver and fat, gulping everything
until they can leap beyond themselves,
beyond breath, into a brightness
that pierces them as if for moments
they meet God who kisses them,
but if they linger
in their spinning jump they will
die of God, of blue dangerous air.

If startled, they fly from the river
eight feet into sky. Is it a defiance
or a demonstration of their fate,
these bully swimmers who devour
plankton, eat their way to eminence
—yet destined for pain when they hit
the electric fences that punish them
away from the great lakes.

Thirty-seven miles from Chicago’s watershed,
they are coming, a team of acrobats
with pink mouths as big as fists.

They come from Mississippi, through the Illinois
by way of Chinese rice paddies. One thousand years
and they are still coming wild, fierce
as a locust plague, drunk with their collective swarm.
 

(Corinne) Renny Golden was a Pushcart nominee in 2016. Her book, Blood Desert: Witnesses 1820-1880, won the WILLA Literary Award for poetry 2011, was named a Southwest Notable Book of the Year 2012, and a Finalist for the New Mexico Book Award. The Old Woman and the River is coming in 2019 from University of New Mexico Press. She’s been published and anthologized widely including in the following journals: Water~Stone; International Quarterly; Literary Review; Dogwood; Main Street Rag; Windhover; Able Muse; Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review; Split This Rock; Nagatuck River Review; Crosswinds.  

In Spite of Debris, Offal, Trash, Detritus

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BY RENNY GOLDEN
 
A miracle of goldfish still flicker like
sunlit coins through dark matter.

This river asks for so little,
sings beneath Bascom bridges.

It’s Prairie Wolf Slough’s Gloria
of marsh marigold, pale geranium,
trout lily, swamp buttercup.

Clothed in its liquid vestment,
raiment where deer and fox
drink and mark the hours.

     A river that remembers
     vast woodlands, meadows
     flaming in the silence marking time.

     This is the otter’s prayer
     a ballet of plunges and dives.
     The mallard’s dark procession

on silk waters, then sudden flight
across dawn’s flare where sky holds
them to perfect blue roads.

     They do not see the presence that enfolds them,
     so intimate their animal trust.

 

(Corinne) Renny Golden was a Pushcart nominee in 2016. Her book, Blood Desert: Witnesses 1820-1880, won the WILLA Literary Award for poetry 2011, was named a Southwest Notable Book of the Year 2012, and a Finalist for the New Mexico Book Award. The Old Woman and the River is coming in 2019 from University of New Mexico Press. She’s been published and anthologized widely including in the following journals: Water~Stone; International Quarterly; Literary Review; Dogwood; Main Street Rag; Windhover; Able Muse; Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review; Split This Rock; Nagatuck River Review; Crosswinds.  

An Elegy for the Lost Athens Sixty-two

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BY DOM FONCE

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Dom Fonce is an undergraduate English major at Youngstown State University. His work has either been published in or is forthcoming in issues of 3Elements Review, Obra/Artifact, West Texas Literary Review, the Magnolia Review, UnLost Journal, and others. He enjoys highlighting the lore of Ohio with his writing.

Settings

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BY LARRY NARRON

 

1. TURN

Someone insists there’s a setting
for making the pages sound
as if my fingers were turning them.

2. VOICE CONTROL

A grandfather clock strikes low
under my tongue, dissolves
crushed syllables poured
into capsules.

3. SLEEP MODE

Once, I dreamed I was
a connoisseur of misfortune,
an avid collector of lies.


Larry Narron’s poems appear or are forthcoming in
HOBART, The Brooklyn Review, Whiskey Island, Berkeley Poetry Review, Phoebe, The MacGuffin, The Boiler, and other journals. They’ve been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets. Originally from Southern California, Larry currently lives in Northern Michigan, where he serves as a literacy coach for elementary school students in the Village of Pellston via AmeriCorps. He is the nonfiction editor of Dunes Review.

Scentless Smoke

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BY JOHN BRADLEY 

 

On the railroad bed
            now paved nature trail
the coyote stops, peers not at

            but through me
into some past or future
            where, behind a bush

I crouch, panting.
            When it slinks off
into the too silent

            woods, a slip
of scentless smoke, no coyote
            was ever here.

           
           

John Bradley once lived two blocks from Lake Superior in Duluth. Now he lives an hour and a half west of Lake Michigan in DeKalb, Illinois. His poems been published in the American Poetry Review, Caliban, the Diagram, Hotel Amerika, the Kerf, Shadowgraph, and other journals. He is the author of seven books of poetry and prose, the most recent is Erotica Atomica, just released by WordTech. 

What the Lake Said

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BY JOHN BRADLEY 

 

I once lived in a house made of frozen blocks of Lake Superior.
You trained a muskrat to walk on a leash and recite poetry.

Each time I gave our address it came out with a frozen fish.
When the landlord knocked on the door, we hid in the bathtub giggling.

We hung a poster over the bed of a rhino made from armadillos.
There was a hole cut in the bedroom floor to let the lake breathe.

All the food tasted like salted fish, even the ice cream, you said.
We tore pages from the dictionary and made vocabulary birds.

I dreamed Bob Dylan was a Trappist monk who ravaged our rutabagas.
You wore a coat made from many an Albanian flag until you didn’t.

For your birthday, I built a tiny piano out of nails and dog fur.
One morning, we found sheep eating the carpet in the pantry.

Afternoons, we could see an eye chart on a downtown office wall.
Late at night, the lake spoke in creak and chirr, rasp and crow.

           
           

John Bradley once lived two blocks from Lake Superior in Duluth. Now he lives an hour and a half west of Lake Michigan in DeKalb, Illinois. His poems been published in the American Poetry Review, Caliban, the Diagram, Hotel Amerika, the Kerf, Shadowgraph, and other journals. He is the author of seven books of poetry and prose, the most recent is Erotica Atomica, just released by WordTech.