Under the Tulip Poplar Tree
by Jarad Johnson
Today, similarly to when Julie spoke about burying a small chicken, I am reminiscing on the death of my pets.
I have always been an animal lover, and we have always, always had a houseful of cats – and the occasional dog – all of them rescues. When I was born, my mom had a Yorkie named Chappea. When I was crawling around on the floor, he would take hold of my diaper with his teeth and drag me back to him if I got too far away. I had a cat named Jewel, whom I loved dearly; when he was very old, he went off into the meadow next to my house to die. There was a dog named Princess, hit by a car, and a cat named Gigi who died of old age. I’m very much a cat person, and I could (and would, given the opportunity) take the time to tell you about all those precious little felines, but I’m afraid I don’t have room on this page and I’m sure you have a life you need to be getting on with. I get on better with old dogs than puppies, but consequently that means I have to watch more of my animals die All of these animals were special to me, as are the ones who are with me now.
by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
There are things
one cannot escape
from, a heavy cloud,
the tiger’s claw.
Eternal peace comes
for us all, in the form
of a cloud, heavy
with rain, to the old
and young, the dumb
and wise, too heavy
to be lifted
when it is your time.
The Midnight Writer
by Jarad Johnson
The Witching Hour. The dead of night. The middle of the night. Midnight evokes within the human imagination an endless source of fascination and dread. It is said that midnight (the time I’m writing this) is the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest. What ghosts may come and tell me their haunting stories of the afterlife? What ghouls and phantoms shall visit me at this perilous hour? If you, like me, are just on the edge of slipping into the world of dreams, you may see something out of the corner of your eye. Was it a cat, a flash of light, or perhaps something more sinister? You may pull the covers just a little tighter, till the cold light of day reimposes logic into your mind.
Don't Garden Barefoot!
by Jarad Johnson
I consider myself a generally intelligent person, but on rare (or, according to some, frequent) occasions, my decision-making skills fall short of what most people would call, “smart.” One such occasion occurred last week, when I was sowing seeds in one of my front garden beds. You see, since I was a child, I’ve despised shoes, and when I was very little, I used to run around the yard in nothing but my birthday suit. You can be sure my mom was mortified, and my neighbors were wondering why a naked toddler was screaming and running in circles. But don’t worry, I don’t do that very often anymore, except on the Harvest Moon.
Advice for Everyone
by Uncle Mortimer
Dear Uncle Morty,
I’m writing you as someone who’s been recently disembodied. I received the packet and I have examined all my choices. Even though it isn’t recommended, I have decided to hang around and haunt my old house. This seems like a good idea given that my son, let’s call him George, inherited the home. George is thirty and my only child. Quite frankly, I think maybe I spoiled him. He has no children, and his wife finally left him due to his bad behavior; he was always asking for money and he could never hold down a job. I don’t know exactly where I went wrong, but I’m his mother and mothers never give up. Even when we’re dead. Believe me, when I say that I have no problem hanging around and scaring this problem child into some semblance of adulthood. I’m not writing so you can lecture me about letting go or moving on to the Netherworld. I’ve made up my mind.
Blood on the Mausoleum
by Julie Carpenter
My first collection of stories takes place in a small town called Whistlestop. Now, you might think small towns are boring and that it would be easier to write a set of exciting stories if they were set in a big city. That may be true to some extent. Wherever you have more people, you’re going to have excitement and drama right there, right under your nose. No need to go poking around for it most of the time. But, small towns have their dramas too. Stories that stick in the collective memory. These can be legends that everyone knows about, or secrets and hidden tragedies that no one wants to discuss openly that still somehow infiltrate the collective consciousness by some sort of osmosis. Every little village has a story someone desperately wants to bury, reduce to whispers, inter in silence. Some of these stories remind us that life is fragile and temporary, and quite possibly weirder than we thought. Sometimes stories need time to ferment until they return to haunt us with the strange metaphysical possibilities of ghosts and otherworldly visitations. And sometimes they even shape us.
The Artist Under the Mills
by Rebecca Harding Davis
Essay by Jarad Johnson
This review is of an older book, but I think the themes are still pertinent. This book is definitely worth a read. It’s a layered book and there’s an interesting perspective on feminine versus masculine traits as well, but for the purposes of provoking thought, I’ve focused on the battle between corporate need for capital and the individual need for fulfillment through art and beauty.
by Jeff Weddle
My first book was two folded sheets, eight pages, counting the front and back covers, cheap paper photocopied with my poems and bound with two staples. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I was lonely and broke and living in a busted up trailer In Oxford, Mississippi, sending my poems out like crazy, occasionally getting an acceptance from some small magazine or another.
The Isolated Gardener
by Julie Carpenter
Since I’ve been in isolation, my world has become much smaller. I am fortunate enough to have a yard where I can plant things and a local nursery with a good no-contact, curbside pickup plan. So, I have planted some vegetables in raised beds and put some flowers in the front of the house. Even though I’m doing my best to distract myself with gardening, my world has quite suddenly become much smaller. As a writer, I work from home, and now I also entertain myself at home. The most I get out is to walk around the neighborhood, which fortunately has wide streets and residents who politely cross the street to make sure they don’t break social distancing.
by Essie Lee
Are a joy I’ve never had.
Always telling, never holding back.
When I go out and first start living,
the Little secrets I shall keep:
Where, just behind the ears, to scratch the cat;
I will let my opera voice lie dormant until
I let it boom out from a mountain;
I will hide the little jar of clover honey at the very back of the fridge from prying and dangerous tongues.
The secrets that sleep in the womb of my mind are like a wellspring
Ready to SPRING OUT and KNOCK YOU OVER!
There is pleasure in waiting.
A truth in hiding.
Too much truth will sooner drown a man than tempt him.
Fall for me slowly. The way I did for myself.
See every detail, but each at a time.
Gentle cascades of hips and lips
No torrents of buttocks and thighs.
They hold so many secrets,
Tiny delicate fractured things.
I am close to bursting with my desire to tell you!
I haven’t met you
But I anticipate..