“Eveline” by Henry Shepard

Eveline (A Broken Ghazal)

Things seem backward. A strange feeling on the back of the spine.
Things seem backward, as if a finger slipped and put life on rewind.

Things seem backward, a man wheezes in a bed, coughing up his age,
his thoughts throw back to a first love, a dearly missed, sweet Eveline.

Things seem backward, the man buys a house out in the countryside
where his kids visit with their kids during holidays and special times.

Things seem backward, the man retires and there’s cake and a pocket
watch. His wife would smile if she were here, and so too would Eveline.

Things seem backward, the man meets a younger fellow named Jim
hired to do the same job. He is assured twice, this is not a downsize.

Things seem backward, he stares at the grave and wishes it would rain,
he wants a cinema goodbye, a sentimental wave at the years behind.

Things seem backward, young faces stare up at him on the stage,
hair fading grey with diploma in hand, denying his mind is in decline.

Things seem backward, but now it's hard to remember, his coughs
are heavy and sputtering, the racing mind slows, a finger slips

the world pauses, things flow forward, backward, it does not matter,
the man relives his life in bursts of light, his eyes flashing with life

he sees his wife, her name he forgets now, but then it's Lily and he's
sorry because she's not the one he wants to see. It's Eveline.

Always Eveline, even after all this time she's on his mind, stuck spin
ing, turning, yearning . . . no, wait, that's him, the man, he's yearning

to know what would or could have been if they had stayed in touch,
never together, but always close, and him with that same yearning

that's driven him mad over the years, pushed him away from his life,
yes his wife tried to steer him back, saw him through college, a goal

he always wanted to obtain, but she died without rain, a sign he knew
a sign that he had chosen wrong, even after all this time, Eveline.

He sputters and coughs, but no one is there to hear, not in a hospital,
not at night. Nurses? Somewhere. Not important. Scrubs without name

tags, faces all too young and similar. If only he could go back, but where'd
the light go? Where'd those moments of backward and forward time go?

Things seem backward. The man lies in bed, coughs and sputters up his age,
his thoughts throw back to a first love, a dearly missed, what was her name?

Henry B. Shepard III is currently studying at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers for a Master’s in English with a concentration in Creative Writing – Fiction. This is his first poetry publication. He comes from a swampy town called Destrehan, about 20 minutes out of New Orleans (and only 15 from the airport). You could follow Henry on Twitter (@VerbNounGuy). You could also have a nice day. Henry’s favorite romcoms are The Devil Wears Prada and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

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“Dear Sex Advice Poet” by Scott Poole

Dear Sex Advice Poet,

I write a lot of poems.
Many are love poems.

I write stanzas like

“While stirring the beef at Taco Bell
I dreamt of your touch
and accomplished nothing
all day, but reverie.”

and

“I would gladly rip my ears off
if you’d kiss me.
For no song is as melodic
as the jug band of your lips.”

And when I give these poems
to women
they want to have
enormous amounts of sex
with me.

I don’t know, this is nice and all,
but I was really hoping to win
a Guggenheim or a Genius Grant by now.
I’m worried the Pulitzer isn’t coming.
I wouldn’t mind
a cushy tenure at a small liberal arts college
with the undying adulation of undergrads
who fill the school auditorium
every time I read my poems inspired by
pictures of grass blades I took in my backyard,
undergrads who later go onto
work at Literary journals
who will print my name on the cover proudly
and invite me to Floridian writing conferences as the keynote
where you can sip papaya drinks in your flower shorts
while you read your grass blade poems to other people’s undergrads
thus increasing your national poetic cache
and your chance of becoming the next poet laureate.

But so far
it’s just enormous amounts
of crazy sex
with poetry starved women.
I have no job. I’m homeless.
I just live on the good graces
of various lovers about the city.

Don’t get me wrong
the sex is wonderful,
I’ve had mind bending orgasms
that made feel like
the president of a tropical country
wearing a stately looking hat.

I woke up naked in a
fountain in Paris once
covered only in
lipstick smeared pages
of my journal.

I once had sex with six women
in one night and two
were on the bus between
the other four’s apartments.

But I still haven’t had a poem
read by Garrison Keillor
on Writer’s Almanac.

Would it kill the establishment,
to put me in the New Yorker,
just once?

In fact, I’m being pleasured
by a Russian circus performer
kneeling on a pile of my rejection letters
while I write this.

Help me.

Sincerely,
Unknown in my own Time.

Dear Unknown,

Sometimes it’s better to die
in obscurity.

Scott Poole is the “House Poet” for the weekly radio variety show Live Wire!, distributed nationally by Public Radio International.  He is the author of three books of poetry, the latest being The Sliding Glass Door. He lives in Vancouver, WA with his wife and two children and makes his living as software developer. His favorite romantic comedies are Seems Like Old Times, When Harry Met Sally, Barfly and A New Leaf.

“More Dates for Kay (1952)” by Annette C. Boehm

More Dates for Kay (1952)

I’ve had my share of dating
slumps. Every girl has them!
Now is the time to invest
in good underarm deodorant.
Brush those teeth harder.
Whiten them with berries.
Drop the weight
of your books, quite accidentally
as a boy passes. Pretend physics
are beyond you:
the calculations of distance,
force, impact, resistance.
Before he arrives
make sure you look sharp,
make sure you have sharpened
your pencils, your axe.

Annette C. Boehm‘s chapbook The Five Part of Love – Confabulating Sappho is available from Dancing Girl Press and she is a poetry reader for Memorious: a Journal of New Verse and Fiction. She blogs at www.outsideofacat.wordpress.com. Her favorite RomComs are Annie Hall, The Graduate, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

“Form Letter” by Les Kay

Form Letter

Dear [Insert Name],

My apologies for not writing sooner—something, like late summer rain, is always coming up. Since last [Insert Month], the [Insert Appliance or Vehicle] broke down and [Insert Name] lost [his/her] [Insert Relationship]. We’ve been good though busy. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything one wants, like learn a new language, read [Insert Novel] in the original [Insert Language], visit [Insert Country], make repairs to the [Insert Room], or visit you in [Insert City].

It’s odd. Most days, we find ourselves surrounded by others, but can’t help feeling lonely from time to time. Remember that day at [Insert Body of Water]? We had that conversation that seemed to be about nothing. It stretched into nightfall when campfires were lit. Young couples sipped beer from aluminum cans, and though we could hear laughter, they may as well have been hikers in the forests of [Insert Country]. We were that focused on one another. When did you realize our conversation wasn’t about nothing, that each umm, each I think, each pause led you further from the self you’d been? It’s taken me years.

Thank You,

[Insert Name]

Les Kay holds a PhD from the University of Cincinnati’s Creative Writing program. His poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of literary journals including Apt, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Toad, Sugar House Review, Stoneboat, Menacing Hedge, The White Review, No Bullshit Review, The Boiler Journal, and elsewhere. His favorite Romantic Comedies are Blade Runner and The Princess Bride.

“Intimacy” by Nettie Farris

Intimacy

Sabine told a story to Steven about herself. Then Steven told a similar story to Sabine about Samantha.

Nettie Farris lives in Floyds Knobs, Indiana and is the author of Communion (Accents Publishing, 2013). In 2011. she received the Kudzu Poetry Prize. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her favorite romantic comedy is When Harry Met Sally. And she loves Bridget Jones in book form.

“Romance, An Improv, or Drafts” by Kimberly Dixon-Mays

Romance, An Improv, or Drafts

Hello my darling sweetheart.
I just got back from work *ding* France *ding* the
insane asylum. All I thought about was you.
I’ve come to ask you to marry me *ding* run away with
me *ding* wash my dirty socks.
If you say no, I fear I’ll go mad *ding* ask again.

My darling dear,
I’m thrilled you’re back from work *ding* your mistress.
While you were gone I wondered if you missed me
*ding* sent me cash.
Now that you’re here I think we should elope *ding*
make love *ding* make pancakes *ding* go our
separate ways.

Yes, yes my darling Nancy *ding* Margaret *ding*
Sharon *ding* Elizabeth *ding* Mahalia *ding* Edwina
Mae.
It’s as if you’ve read my mind *ding* journal *ding*
ransom note.
I swear my very heart *ding* soul *ding* follicles
breathe for you, and without you I’m nothing *ding*
monogamous *ding* solvent. Let me take you in my
arms—

Yes, embrace me with your arms *ding* prosthetic
arms. And never let me go!

No, my darling, I will never *ding* often *ding*
someday *ding* never let you go!

Kimberly Dixon-Mays is a writer and performer with degrees from Yale, UCLA and Northwestern. A Cave Canem fellow, her publications include The Drunken Boat, Torch, Versal, Reverie, the anthology Just Like a Girl: A Manifesta!, the upcoming anthology Trigger Warning, and her first poetry collection, SenseMemory, from Blue Pantry Publishers. Her plays have received readings and staged productions at Crossroads, Plowshares, and Strawdog theatre companies, and her play “The Gizzard of Brownsville” was a finalist for the Theodore Ward Prize for African-American Playwrights. Since 2004 she has been a frequent writer/performer with the Poetry Performance Incubator project of the Guild Literary Complex. Her favorite RomComs are His Girl Friday, Boomerang, Claudine, and Love, Actually.

“Genesis” by Henry Shepard

Genesis

I’m sorry,
I sprained my ankle when the earth was young,
the dirt not quite not quite settled, but wet
and my feet weren’t fully formed.
You see, I saw a, well, a thing,
I hadn’t seen before, which I guess
isn’t saying much considering I hadn’t
seen anything before, but I saw this thing,
this tall thing with two legs like mine
and a face, smooth and round
with a soft point and a small pointed
nose between two eyes like mine.
I saw this thing, I guess you might call
it “you” and, well, I had to come over.
To say hi.

Henry B. Shepard III is currently studying at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers for a Master’s in English with a concentration in Creative Writing – Fiction. This is his first poetry publication. He comes from a swampy town called Destrehan, about 20 minutes out of New Orleans (and only 15 from the airport). You could follow Henry on Twitter (@VerbNounGuy). You could also have a nice day. Henry’s favorite romcoms are The Devil Wears Prada and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

“In the Movies This Would Precede the Grand Romantic Gesture” by Caroline Tanski

In the Movies This Would Precede the Grand Romantic Gesture

On my walk to the co-op, heartburn flared
at the back of my throat. We’d fought all day –
unusual for me, but there it blared,
made sense when I thought of the ravenous way

I ate those brownies after work. The whole
of the pan. I blame the morning, when I woke
late, dug into my jeans drawer and unrolled
a ratty old pair, threw them on, tamed rogue

hair. Went through my day and then I got home
and found the note, tucked in the pocket
of those ratty jeans, your years-ago ghost.
So, yes, I ate my feelings – not a habit

I swear. The note rehidden, my esophagus
still makes for your name a flaming sarcophagus.

Caroline Tanski is a writer, editor, and library assistant in greater Boston. She earned my MFA from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and my favorite romantic comedies include Say Anything, Can’t Hardly Wait, Eulogy, and Clue. It’s a broad genre.

“I Want to Be Your Poet” by Scott Poole

I Want To Be Your Poet

I want to surprise you in the morning
with an overcoat of sourdough toast.
I’ll build a rowboat of swan feather pillows
to take you to work while you nibble on strawberries.
I’ll kiss the back of your knees
from under your desk while you do
the accounts payable.

If anyone bothers you at work
I will lead them through one magical door,
then another magical door,
through an unfathomable labyrinth
to finally end at a very small
bathroom with no toilet
from which they will never return.

I will take you to lunch in a rocket.
We’ll eat on the moon and throw
moon rocks at each other
and fill our space helmets full of goldfish.

When you’re not looking,
I’ll put stars in your purse
and later when you reach for a stick of gum
you’ll be declared the queen of the galaxy
right after your two o’clock controllers meeting.

Yes, you can tell everybody
I carved your cell phone from a Redwood
and Starlings fly from it whenever
you get a call. I don’t mind.

When you take off your shoes at the end
of the day I want to mail them off
to Columbia and have them filled with bananas.

If you walk slow enough,
I will plant flower beds full of playful kittens
in every barefoot step you take.

I will make you a salad of children’s giggles
and I will serve you a steaming roast
on the back of a motorcycle racing
150mph toward a hot tub full of chocolate mousse.

I’ll arrange for a ride on a dolphin after dinner
spurting wine out of its blowhole
into your clearest crystalline goblet.

And when you’re ready for bed
I will dance you off
to a bed of a million
cotton balls where we will make
love a thousand kisses deep,
the way one should
when one wants to take advantage
of their very own poet.

Scott Poole is the “House Poet” for the weekly radio variety show Live Wire!, distributed nationally by Public Radio International.  He is the author of three books of poetry, the latest being The Sliding Glass Door. He lives in Vancouver, WA with his wife and two children and makes his living as software developer. His favorite romantic comedies are Seems Like Old Times, When Harry Met Sally, Barfly and A New Leaf.

“cake batter” by Kenzie McLain

cake batter

you send me text messages
covered in marshmallow fluff
even though you know i’ve
recently started taking insulin.

you are too comfortable,
too many open vowels,
a squishy armchair that’s
impossible to stand up from.

loving you was easy, nights
spent slumbering under
movie theater houselights,
cake batter licked off a spoon.

i forgot the feeling of literary
arguments on the subway,
of digging my molars into
someone, begging them to stay.

i lay my cheek against the harsh
commercial carpet, the taste
of cake batter coating my tongue,
hoping i will be able to sleep
without an afghan covering my toes.

Kenzie McLain attends college in Michigan, and saves all of the money she wishes she could spend on attending Harry Potter conventions and buying nail polish for her plans to move to California and write for a small screen near you. She lives in townhouse with three dorks and her house rabbit Charlie. Her favorite romantic comedies include 10 Things I Hate About You, The Silver Linings Playbook, and Clueless. You can read her blog at www.feministcthulhu.com.