Tensions

By virtue that’s inherent—a pursuit
of happiness—he tells me, the garden

is set to grow in thirteen raised beds.

We wait, wanting the best of everything, but
in our own bed, we doubt what we have done.

All night, silence hangs over us, making
us suspicious of our planting.

We relive tensions:

Our pitchforks, sinking into black dirt, lifting
broken clods up and turning them under

what we imagine becomes organic—

young beans next to potatoes, with eyes
turned down—onions set to stand

guard around the lettuce…

What are you thinking, I ask
in the moment, when all he

can hear is the hornworm click.

Ignored, I find new growth, the green
nubs that look like teats—the sweetness

slugs crave on their nightly feed—their appetite
more than thoughtful.

I dread what we are fighting.

It’s slow and dull like the slugs’ ambition—we
can’t get off, get away from, get out of this

pursuit that makes us tired in the morning.

M. J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 29 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: https://mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

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Near Stone Hill Winery

We witness the downstream
destruction of the Missouri
as it overflowed its banks
when we follow the Hermann
Wine Trail, eighty miles
west of St. Louis
where submerged vineyards
harbor mature hardwoods
which reflect their lonely
images on a flooded plain.
At the roadway’s edge
markers that measured
the depth of road water
now stand on the shoulder
of a path passable over
dump truck loads of gravel
and broken asphalt
past abandoned houses
whose shutters flap
in a June breeze
while inside one home
a ceiling fan spins undeterred.
Hillside tractors gaze
at a landscape gutted
by spring melt.

Dr. Jim Brosnan holds the rank of full professor of English at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. He placed second in NEATE’s 2010 Poet of the Year competition. Jim’s publishing credits include four books of poetry and over 450 poems, which have appeared most recently in the Aurorean, Mad Poets Review, The Leaflet, The Bridge, The Teacher as Writer, and Voices of the Poppies anthology (UK). Since 2012, Jim has won numerous awards in the annual National Federation of State Poetry Societies competition, including a second place by the Utah Poetry Society, a third place in Texas, and honorable mentions in Maine and New York. His first poetry collection, Nameless Roads, has received a silver medal in a national contest. Jim is working on his second collection, West of the Mississippi, as part of a university fellowship.

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From the Book of Whispers

On the interstate
west of Cheyenne,
just fifty miles
from Laramie,
my Jeep cruises
past herders
driving sheep
and Angus cattle,
past ranchers
in ten-gallon hats
rounding up cows
and calves on short
grass prairies,
past bison grazing
in darkening shadows
of snow-capped peaks
as early evening light
illuminates
this landscape
of reminders
softly spoken
in the language
of mountain ranges
and snowfields
as I court loneliness—
desire recorded
in a handful of poems.

Dr. Jim Brosnan holds the rank of full professor of English at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. He placed second in NEATE’s 2010 Poet of the Year competition. Jim’s publishing credits include four books of poetry and over 450 poems, which have appeared most recently in the Aurorean, Mad Poets Review, The Leaflet, The Bridge, The Teacher as Writer, and Voices of the Poppies anthology (UK). Since 2012, Jim has won numerous awards in the annual National Federation of State Poetry Societies competition, including a second place by the Utah Poetry Society, a third place in Texas, and honorable mentions in Maine and New York. His first poetry collection, Nameless Roads, has received a silver medal in a national contest. Jim is working on his second collection, West of the Mississippi, as part of a university fellowship.

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Southwest to Reno

I think about you when
I stop in the parking lot
at the Winnemucca Casino
where I want to engage
the one-armed bandits,
but instead watch a hitchhiker
balancing a ragged backpack
as he traces the shoulder
along State Route 289
where alfalfa sways
in the early evening breeze.
Ten minutes later I stop
at the Flying J Travel Plaza
to buy a Coke
and a Hershey’s bar
which is melting
before I return
to my air-conditioned
Camaro. I climb back
out to snap a photo
of low clouds hovering
over arid acreage
as desert heat rises
from the black pavement,
consult the roadmap
before navigating
my sports car back
on the asphalt ribbon
amidst Freightliners
and Kenworths.
Mountain bluebirds
gather on the rail fences,
await nightfall
like spectators
at a holiday
fireworks display.

Dr. Jim Brosnan holds the rank of full professor of English at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. He placed second in NEATE’s 2010 Poet of the Year competition. Jim’s publishing credits include four books of poetry and over 450 poems, which have appeared most recently in the Aurorean, Mad Poets Review, The Leaflet, The Bridge, The Teacher as Writer, and Voices of the Poppies anthology (UK). Since 2012, Jim has won numerous awards in the annual National Federation of State Poetry Societies competition, including a second place by the Utah Poetry Society, a third place in Texas, and honorable mentions in Maine and New York. His first poetry collection, Nameless Roads, has received a silver medal in a national contest. Jim is working on his second collection, West of the Mississippi, as part of a university fellowship.

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Set to Sad Music

I gaze through
clouded windows
on the California Zephyr,
twenty minutes after
departing St. Louis,
the arc of a trestle
emerging in the soft
charcoal of dusk,
the moon rising
before the sky swallows
these open spaces.
I remember that summer,
finger an unmailed letter,
its handwritten address
smudged by time—
those sacred hours
recounted in cursive
now scattered in silent
thoughts, only found
in random poems
or country lyrics.

Dr. Jim Brosnan holds the rank of full professor of English at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. He placed second in NEATE’s 2010 Poet of the Year competition. Jim’s publishing credits include four books of poetry and over 450 poems, which have appeared most recently in the Aurorean, Mad Poets Review, The Leaflet, The Bridge, The Teacher as Writer, and Voices of the Poppies anthology (UK). Since 2012, Jim has won numerous awards in the annual National Federation of State Poetry Societies competition, including a second place by the Utah Poetry Society, a third place in Texas, and honorable mentions in Maine and New York. His first poetry collection, Nameless Roads, has received a silver medal in a national contest. Jim is working on his second collection, West of the Mississippi, as part of a university fellowship.

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minimize

you are —            
            a sore in my mouth, born
            savage amid the delicate vowels i
            spin for mother; the last rotations
            of summer, all cracked lips and
            missteps into sidewalk puddles.
            my head tilted & searching for a
            requiem to the sky; the yellowing
            calluses carved in my fingertips,
            tender flesh hardened by sawing
            strings. i trace your name like i’m
            learning to write for the first time;
            like driving on the freeway
            with nowhere to go, broken brakes
            and needing to get away; this poem,
            a handful of loose threads with
            ends i cannot stitch together
— a song stuck on replay

This is a reprint of work originally published in After the Pause.

Emmy Song is a junior at Montgomery Blair High School in Maryland. Her poetry has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and published in Rising Phoenix Review and Sierra Nevada Review.

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Death In The Sun

Man speaks your name like a burning anathema,
and picks up your body where
butterflies of newspapers circle above you.

The yellow sun is in your hair, the darkened color
of tamed waters.
The warm yellow sun—
The quiet yellow sun—

Your death rides a black van;
Your death, more real than life, comes at five o’clock,
in a wedding tuxedo.

Aiden Heung, a native Chinese poet currently working and living in Shanghai. He writes about the city of Shanghai and about people who live in this city. He is a Tongji University graduate.

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