Two Poems by Maj Ragain

Vernor Lake

At sunset tonight
I hooked a big fish
off Boatman's Point.
He ran right at me
and then by the boat.
I couldn't reel fast enough
to keep the line taut.
He was as big as a second grade kid.
The son of a bitch turned me
around in the boat,
my arms extended straight up
like an Aztec priest
about to cut out a beating heart.
The rod bent double.
And gone.
I've been after this fish
for thirty years.
I know him.
He is the bitter
shiteating part of me
who longs to drown
where the stars can't reach.
If I ever get him in the boat,
I'll tear out his gills
and make him fly.

Brother Timothy in the Lot

The poetry is the only free act of my life.
Everthing else is tethered.
I am laced up like a boot.
But the meter reader can't read
my poems with his long yellow flashlight.
My poems are little bastard children
who have fled the institutions
and now camp in my eyebrows.
My poems love yellow lettuce
from the dumpster behind Sparkle Market.
I'm telling you the story of Lazarus
who was dead and something woke him up
and he got up on his elbows
and looked at the sun.
The poetry has nothing to do with the oil cartel
or pants with a 31 inch waist.
The poetry is not the faint, misted breath
on a mirror.
It is not the icy ring around the January moon.

I learned a lesson from a man
named Timothy, both of us half drunk
a July night, in Ciccone's Tavern parking lot.
He was twenty years old
and had rheumatoid arthritis so bad
he had to keep moving so his joints
wouldn't freeze and solder him to the spot.
He hopped from one foot to the other,
a barefoot man on ice.
Beer fed the yoyo between us.
He laughed about all of it.
We shook hands
and he just kept shaking all over.
When he wasn't shaking,
he shivered to keep moving.
Timothy turned round and winked at me.
'Just cause I'm shivering don't mean I'm cold.'
I know the poetry
is the shivering and not the cold.

Bedfellows/Ginny Jones

Don’t tell me you have dreams, if you don’t plan to wake up and
     realize them
Because there are plenty of bedfellows stuck to pillows wishing they
     were clouds
The want to reach for the sky from the comforts of their mattresses
But I have never seen the world changed by lying down.

So stand up, not only for what you believe in, but the unbelievable
Because revolutionaries use impossible ideas
To shift the paradigms of minds so closed they don’t even have doors
Creativity ignores naysayers; it is not for the weak-willed or faint
     at heart
True art takes nothing and forms something that makes the aurora borealis look like a laser show
Want more, because unrealized dreams are only vain imaginings
By people who refuse to see past what they can’t conceive
You can go beyond thinking you can walk on water
Trusting that you can evaporate the ocean and bring people with you
Crossing murky seas of doubt to a promised land of achievement
Like ants marching one by one on a collective journey to triumph.

Big thinkers recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around them
Instead they resolve to have a global impact
Borne on the backs of the willing and birthed out of the recesses of
     their minds
Dream-weavers don’t teach men to fish,
They teach them to wish, hope, and actualize the unattainable by
     redefining sustainable resources
They labor with them to build lakes and fish farms
Through the strength of their arms and the sweat of their brows
They understand how the world works
That you can’t truly enjoy its perks if you aren’t reproductive
Or conducting an energy that electrifies the masses.

They amass a fortune more priceless than gold
By edifying the souls of those who can only see smallness in all
     this life has to offer
They cast off the proper for the unorthodox and transform boxes to
     hexagons with dimensions greater than four knowing that there
     is more to this reality
Defying gravity they don’t stand up, they float also elevating those
     around them
While still staying grounded
Leaving a resounding echo of encouragement behind them
You can find them conjugating imagination and veracity
With a tenacity toward optimism and a hatred of dogmatism
Marching to the rhythm of defiance of the mundane
They don’t feign purpose, they live it.

So, don’t tell me you have dreams, if you don’t plan to wake up and
     realize them
Because there are plenty of bedfellows stuck to pillows wishing they
     were clouds
The want to reach for the sky from the comforts of their mattresses
But I have never seen the world changed by lying down.

The Broken/Jay Morris

Ask yourself how many times in a given day you say the word dad.
If the answer is less than one, than this poem is for you.
If someone asks you how your relationship with your father is.
And you answer more to your disembodied dad than to them that
You wished that he had told you beforehand that he intended you to
A seed that grew without his watchful eye from the get-go
So that you could’ve known better than to try to save a place
For him in this space that wants to call itself a heart.
This is for you.
This is for expectations turning into doubts and finally
     hopelessness after too many
Silent years of missed Christmases and disregarded birthdays.
Silent years because children are wishbones that break without a
Apologies can never quite cut it when a child is broken.
Broken children walking like cracked funhouse mirrors.
Fragmenting and distorting.
This is for sometimes wishing that you could be more angry than you
     are disappointed
Because anger at least keeps you warm at night.
A burning man is better than a man that has to thaw.
And I’ve seen them all.
Firemen and icemen propagating broken children.
And endless cycle of bastards propagating more bastards.
Men who never really stopped being boys having kids.
Never really settling down with responsibility but living their
A constant competition of who can get the most fucks, but when
Fuck it’s the children that are screwed.
Wasting the future’s time for the present’s impulses.
Seeds cast here and there like a germination fair.
A carnival of weakness and resentment.
To this day I vowed never to bring another life into this world.
Not while men are raging like wildfires and blizzards.
How does one live as a child as a natural disaster?
Branded by scarlet letters embroidered on the skin as everyone pokes
     and pities.
This is for the broken children.
The modern day Frankenstein monsters procreated out of hubris with
     no intentions of love.
Stitched together with expectations of being equivalent to the
     nuclear family, but we are most certainly
Only nuclear.
Mushroom, shroom clouds rising as high as we can into space to
     strangle our wishes out of stars.
Because broken children learn that no one will tell you your worth.
What slipped through your cracks you must refill.
Cause you are broken but not shattered.
Your duty is to yourself.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I Held You in the Vision of my Mind/Grady Thrasher

     for Kathy
I held you in the vision of my mind,
The image I sought to make mine complete,
In perfect harmony with age and time,
Where others, imperfect, fell to defeat
By shadows real or shadows only feared.
You, doubtless and secure, at peace with light,
Your radiance embracing as you neared,
Warmed and softened the edges of the night.
Unhesitating, I surrendered all,
Set my sail to run before your breeze,
A course even angels cannot recall,
The journey melodious in its ease.
Awakening, I reach and find you there,
A goddess answering my fevered prayer,
My heart in the custody of your care.

here and gone / ben gulyas

no one wants the gone
to hover over them too much—
though some
are more prone
to holding it somewhere
just inside the door,
just under the heart—
my shadow still pumping gas,
a voice talking vegetables
til they come out of their skins—

and sparks go off in your head
like a Chinese new year,
a mile-long exploding dragon
reeking of gunpowder and wine—