Climbing Sun

 

Spilling

I’m a long way from my background
spilling over the passes     into California
raingear at the ready
notebook in the slanting sun
withstanding the canyons    crawling on the cliff rims
screaming in the streams    of California

I’m a long way from my background
hovering over the landscape
arms outstretched like cypress
hammer and chisel in hand
sculpting on the slopes
dancing in the waves
eloping with the coast of California

I’m a short distance from my wisdom
sitting with the teachers    pen emptied
learning from the lilacs    stumbling
with the brothers     playing
with the maidens     marrying the music of California

Eventually all ink is invisible
so I’m translating a redwood’s thrust
recording a coyote’s ideas
reciting a moonrise soliloquy
praying beside an angel
hovering above the bays of California

I’ve escaped my heritage to swim in the instant
blowing across the back roads
shedding the last moment like old skin
drifting through the doorways of California

I’m a long way from my flat background
emerging from the underbrush
practically a bramble—really a morning glory—
stricken with permanent spring fever
hugging the hills   kissing the ridges
shedding the shackles—even of the last second—
only to realize    finally   who I’ve become:

I am simply the one    spilling    over the passes    into California

Climbing Sun is a world- and inner-traveler, body-surfer, poet, teacher, engineer, and building designer. He has taught poetry in California schools and authored two chapbooks and a novel. He is currently published in several journals and resides in Boca Raton, Florida. His writings are an ongoing attempt to integrate the earthly, human, and spirit realms. He holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Florida and maintains a writing blog at www.climbingsun.com.

 

 

Evie Groch

Lessons from an Uneducated Master

An immigrant with broken English
stitching his way to tailoring mastery
cutting on and out bias
to pattern a life in America.

Education not bookish, diploma
not earned, certificate not awarded,
but possessing such undeniable smarts
that others held him in reverential awe.

With an algebraic work problem
I’d run to him, translate the poser,
get the answer in a second,
but not the how.
That’s your job, he said. Now
you can start with the end in mind.

Free 5th grade violin lessons
I feared to take.
No need to fear, he reassured.
Always try; you’re not signing
up for life. I heeded and later
joined the orchestra, played
through the end of high school.

Dad, can you teach me how to drive?
I asked at fourteen, too young for a permit.
In his ’51 Chevy with a grey repair patch
he ignited my love for cars and driving.
Going down the street too slowly,
others honking at my crawl,
he’d say, Just ignore the honking.
Focus on your control.

When I mentor administrative
students today, his words slide
in my ear. I hear myself advising
them as he once advised me.
When the door’s ajar is when
you enter, even if you’re not ready.
For when you think you’re ready,
the door may not be open.
They always remember this when
they come back to visit and
elate us both.

Evie Groch, Ed.D., is a Field Supervisor/Mentor for new administrators in Graduate Schools of Education.  Her opinion pieces, humor, poems, short stories, and memoir vignettes, along with other articles, have been published in the New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Contra Costa Times, in anthologies and on many online venues. The themes of travel, language, immigration, and justice are special for her since she herself is an immigrant who speaks several languages.

 

 

Katie Kemple

You Trim the Hedges

Sitting on the couch by the patio,
windows open to California coastal
cool morning, even in burning August—

I hear the snip of hedges, see you
in ballcap, t-shirt, earbuds. Smell
the spice of fresh cut branches.

How thoughtfully you select
your mark, evening out what we’ve
allowed to grow at its own pace so far.

Both of us yield to an abundance
of green, a weedy esthetic, which is
to say we let the shrubs and succulents

overtake the patio, until the view
out our window is full green, all leafy.
Your strong hands move metal

like the first movie we ever watched
together, Edward Scissorhands—
taking vodka shots at minor movie bets.

Twenty years later, here we live it.
Look at the topiary we’ve cultivated.
You tend to it, aromatic outline of love.

Katie Kemple (she/her) lives with her husband, two kids, an elder-pug, and a carnival goldfish in San Diego, CA. Her poems can be found in recent issues of Atlanta Review, Ligeia Magazine, and The West Review.

 

 

 

Paul Barron

Of Joseph

Eleven brothers surround him,
unable to find themselves
in any other configuration:
even as they planned to seize him,
looked down at him in the well,
stood around his vacant coat,
stared at the absence
in his father’s grief.

All afternoon, a young hawk
faced our window, settled on a fallen branch,
and the flitting squirrel we’d come to expect
descended, splayed, eyeing his back.
We waited for some sort of action
a glimpse of wings
to make it worth
a precious hour of Saturday.

The quiet part of the story
unfolds unexpectedly,
the young hawk patient, hungry
with an absence of complaint
for years in prison,
a body absorbing injustice
without retaliation, a brother
certain of himself in time.

Paul Barron teaches and serves as an administrator at the University of Michigan, supporting students in their pursuit of purposeful lives. His poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Pretext, The Nottingham Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and Littoral Magazine. He is a student of several lineages of south-east Asian martial arts, as well as Chinese Taoist internal practices that have survived for centuries by personal transmission.

 

 

Robert Cooperman

Odysseus, Living in an Inland Village

This inland hill-village is journey’s end;
no one here knows of me and my great deeds,
all so paltry now, like campfire embers.
I’ve gladly traded war’s tawdry glory
and Ithaca’s endless palace intrigues
for peace of mind and a serene night’s sleep,
a full belly, and fellow villagers
who’ve come to think of me as one of theirs.

Last, best, I have, if not Axia’s love,
then her warm and hearty companionship.
She surprised me when she lay beside me
the night we were welcomed to this village,
and whispered, “So these good folk will believe
we’re wed, thus less of a menace to them.”

After her little Miletes had drifted
off to sleep, she took my hand, kissed my palm,
and whispered she knew I still remembered
the love I once had for Penelope,
as she still loved the memory of her slain
Melios; afterwards, we lay sweat-sated.

We pull together well, like a matched pair
of cart horses, here where Tiresias
foretold I’d live out the rest of my days.

Tonight, it’s my turn to guard the sheep and goats.
Axia will join me. We’ll keep watch well,
though not quite as vigilant as this hound
that has lived with the flocks since it was whelped:
a fiercer sentry than any at Troy.

Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is Go Play Outside (Apprentice House), an ode to his lifelong unrequited love for basketball.  Recently published by Kelsay Books is Reefer Madness, part a tale of Cooperman’s misspent youth and part a fantasy based on the Girl Scouts of Colorado okaying selling cookies outside pot shops.

 

 

 

Sarah Frost

The Doctor

The black cat mobile has hung above your examination bed
for as long as my son has been alive, longer.
Drawing pins hold up your graduate daughter’s nursery school drawings
on the cork board in the bathroom,
where I sometimes I urinate into small vials
for your receptionist to dip litmus paper into,
diagnose what’s wrong with me.

On your desk, broad and practical as your middle-aged shoulders,
I spot an hourglass, filled with silicon orbs.
My son, brought to you because he is always tired,
turns it over in his big, beautiful hands – which you tell him –
show you that he is, even at 17, still growing.
We watch the clear globes pass through the sphere’s cervix,
then read together from your medical book,
where diagrams of an adult penis arc dark across the page.

You place a disc over his angular chest,
amplify the rich potential of systole and diastole.
I remember hearing his fetal heart drum,
a horse’s hooves, the sound ran through me.
You are a sage, performing holy rites here in this quiet office.
Your unsentimental eyes witness the body’s work,
the poise of the coiling helix, its commandments
for life. Your modulated voice explaining
my son’s miracle to us, his race towards the light.

Sarah Frost is a 48-year-old mother of a 17-year-old-boy and an 8-year-old girl who lives in Durban, South Africa. She has completed an MA in English Literature at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and achieved a first class pass in a module in Online Poetry at Wits University. She won the Temenos prize for mystical poetry in the McGregor Poetry Competition in 2021. Her debut collection, Conduit, was published by Modjaji in 2011.