Poetry Unplugged

The History of Soup

I learned about Potlikker soup by

reading a poem. As if the tough dark

greens and leftover hambones would ever

sound delicious. And yet the way that poet

spoke of those edible leaves was a thing

 

of beauty.        I knew a guy once, they used

to call him Soup for short because his name

had nearly every letter of the alphabet

strung together in an unsayable way. 

But now I think it was just too much

 

to bother with. It takes more time to say

a name that's full         of consonants instead

of vowels, and he never seemed to mind

anyway. Potlikker soup is made from           

saving the extra parts,             using up

 

what might otherwise be thrown away—

an old African-American tradition from back

in the day of plantation kitchens, a chance

to salvage the remnants, the only way slave

cooks managed to have enough to still feed

their families.

 

I learned some troubling history in the process

of researching that recipe, and it made me

feel guilty for not knowing the backstory

of how it came to be. So, I think I should

have called that guy    by his real

name, not cut it short

 

for the sake of ease, the same way

the real history of this country should be

spoken, so much has been abbreviated

like a reduction of truth because         it's easier.

Calling that guy          Soup didn't do him

justice;

 

it took away a piece of his identity, crushing

letters into something more sayable,

an altered script,          rather than saying

his real name, honoring his-story

and the roots   from whence he came.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program and is an eleven-time Pushcart Prize nominee. In 2020 her latest collection Alice in Ruby Slippers was shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize.

Dear Man

I see you as clear as the solid line

on my GPS. Women are the red dot

of your destination. You confuse desire

for my mouth, hands, and breasts

with the hollow field of your heart,

blown open at the age of six when you were told

you were adopted. The perceived desertion

turned to the power of flirting,

to the wife left home reading a book

on your fake business trips. Let me tell you,

I should have moved past sympathy and excuses

decades ago. Dear Man with the overly doting

mother who when she died left you mining for

forever approval, using phrases you hoped would

magically make me quiver. I should have turned toward

anywhere but there, in that moment, moved toward

the beauty of myself. You, Dear Man,

who thought strength came from anger,

and after you confirmed defeat, wanted to screw me.

Beware, I tell my daughters, not all animals

are vicious, but the alligator one day rests

calm as still air in the sun on the log in the river,

and another day will eat a chihuahua whole.

Yvonne Leach’s first collection of poems was Another Autumn. Her work has appeared in Buddhist Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Clare Literary Magazine, decomP MagazinE, The MacGuffin, Midwest Quarterly, Plainsongs, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, and Whitefish Review, among others.

Epileptic: A Crown Cinquain

We wait

Counting fingers

Dab water on your lips

Listen to the beeping machines

We wait

 

            Doctors

            Give their reports

            Coded in cautious words

            We listen for any sign of hope

            Today

 

Siblings

Watching for clues

My faith lags behind yours

I sense death approach this time love

Comas

 

            The brain

            Seizes full on

            Where are you little sis

            Can they bring you back once again

            I doubt

 

Winter

Inside and out

A chill of sorrow shared

You have turned to settled snow now

At rest

Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals, including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, and others. Marc is a Chicago-area LGBTQ+ writer and the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry.

Escape Zone

“Make today not be

like the others.”

Her silent prayer

that yet again

goes unanswered.

 

Noises from the next room . . .

voices shouting,

things crashing,

growing louder,

coming closer.

 

Eyes shut tight

she clutches her doll,

no longer hearing.

Shrinking her world

to a safe spot.

Dick Narvett is retired from a life in international business and independent film acting. He currently lives in rural Pennsylvania, where he writes flash fiction and poetry. His work can be found in 365 Tomorrows, Fewer Than 500, and others.

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Delicatessen

The women in their large silk brimmed hats

do not smile for just any man.

Their mothers taught them better than that.

 

Women in shiny white and black riding shoes,

walking daintily like women ought to walk.

With all of our beauty,

You would expect it to feel less rancid.

 

Each move of these delicate bones was learned.

Taught to women by other women,

who were taught these pretty dances by their mothers.

Our ancestors were crossing their legs at the ankle,

before propriety ever learned what they hid under their dresses.

 

You call your great manmade machines she.

You name your natural disasters, her.

Your first home was the womb of a girl,

the belly of a beast.

 

Precise decisions are made by women for your viewing pleasure.

Women with their gloves pulled up to the wrist,

Making every knuckle lustful in the hidden hand.

What do we have to do,

 

To stop being called witches?

Is it magic to wield the skin as a means to an end?

The woman is not to blame for the errant wanderings of a lost man,

for if he falls under her spell,

 

he was not ever meant to survive it.

Korinne Ellert is a poet from Indiana who writes about grief, mental illness, feminism, significant cultural events, sexuality, and the romantic aspects of being alive. Currently, she resides with her girlfriend in a happy but quaint apartment with their three cats.

VIXI

When of my death you learn

Feel at noon no pain

The ground rests lightly on me.

When of my death you understand

Feel at midnight no ache

I am of a new blue

I have lived

I had you.

Sir Massimo Mitolo, Knight OMRI, Ph.D., PE, CFEI, FIET, FIEEE. is a professor, School of Integrated Design, Engineering and Automation, Irvine Valley College.

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David Clode on unsplash

The Art and Zen of the Nanny

I flip one over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes—Stop! Again! Again!

I roll one up as a rainbow blanket burrito, scoop him onto the table to cook, flip to the other side, and eat him.

I tell them that if their foot falls off from stepping on a toy, I can sew it back on.

We eat sunbabies

but avoid freshly squeezed cucumber juice— because that is disgusting.

I am awarded “The Silliest Person in the World.”

Elizabeth Gatten Fenley is a former English teacher who currently works as a nanny. She has published flash fiction, micro fiction, and poetry. She lives in her Joyfully Empty Nest with six rescue dogs.