Books to read for 2021: Things My Mother Left Behind by Susan Richardson (Potter’s Grove Press) with “Leaves” from the book

The first thing I noticed when reading Susan’s writing is the descriptive imagery, she makes you feel every emotion she feels.  This is a trait in writing that I admire and her telling of loss and depression at times returns me back on imagery I rarely see outside of Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath.  The poetry reads like the story of her life through the love, loss, grief, the screaming pinches in the soul that losing a parent, child, or sibling staples-in forever.  She also hauntingly describes the progress of losing her sight as she has gone from a sky full of stars both sentient and still to the ones who blink out erratically til there is nothing left to burn.  These are not just some poems.  These are her life.  Emotions are hers.  When you read this collection of poetry the Emotions are yours too.  “Between Sight and Blindness” “Stitching Bones” the loves that got away “Cactus Garden” the pains that diseases bring, the people they take away, the hearts that feels like a car puttering out over the rainy bridge with nowhere to go, these poems will “scatter into the sky” scratching at the stars looking for the brightest one yet receiving in return a turning off the lights inside of Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory, in demure breath wanting the world see the pain. A wonderful read.  A wonderful trip into the mind. We need more of her poetic vision.

Susan Richardson is an award winning, internationally published poet. She is the author of “Things My Mother Left Behind”, from Potter’s Grove Press, and also writes the blog, “Stories from the Edge of Blindness

”. She lives in Ireland with her husband, two pugs and two cats.  You can find her on Twitter @floweringink, listen to her on YouTube , and read more of her work on her website

Leaves

Another hospital room,
another chair holding the weight of my sorrow.
His breath is almost soundless,
mouth open wide
as if inviting god into his lungs one last time.

His eyes flutter awake,
startled.

Is it my face he sees,
dulled by time,
or a face that once held the sun?

He smiles and strokes my fifty-year old hand,
all the years drifting away.
The blues sit perched on his dry lips.
I am his child,
four years old singing Lead Belly
at the top of my tiny lungs

I am a drop of his blood
spilling out onto the Earth,
a fracture of his bones
stuck into the ground with paper spikes.
I am the tear from his eye,
heavy, 
reluctant.

His hands are a whisper that tell a story,
a smattering of leaves on his palm,
fingers plucking at things only he can see,
my mother,
my brother,

both long dead.

I watch his chest barely rising,
each small breath
a forest of words trapped in the mist of his memory.
I wait for his stillness,
for the breaking pieces of his mind to be at rest.
He sits in my palm now,
softly,
frail like the wing of a sparrow.
He folds into shapes
so tiny
so quiet.

Poem by Susan Richardson : “Mean Girls”

Pork Chop Hill by Vern Fein (Fevers of the Mind 2020 Anthology)

Monument, Korean War, Memorial, War

Pork Chop Hill

This Korean War battle has always haunted me.
Originally named Hill 255, a stupid, demeaning title
replaced because that hill
was shaped like a pork chop,
almost comic relief to the brutality,
so much horror and sacrifice.

I've never wanted to be a soldier.
Thank God (Who does not take sides).
I missed all the many wars in my long life,
realized how easily it could have been otherwise.
Glad my two sons dodged it,
not by intention but happenstance.
Just born lucky. History can be that way.

I have no business writing this poem
unless it is all right to hate war
and not think that any words about
how horrible it is stinks of the unpatriotic
like fetid bodies inside the bags.

Trudge up Pork Chop Hill.
I was never there,
but I read about it over and over,
an obsession for no reason I know,
maybe some kind of historical survivor's guilt?

Now I can see it, smell it,
the muck, the monsoon rains,
washing away the blood again and again
as the trapped men battled back and forth,
the longest battle of the war,
to take it and lose it and re-take it,
for "no strategic or tactical reason"
said the report.
This Korean War battle has always haunted me.
A 980 foot high pork chop,
a butcher's cut,
helpless men,
defining life, defining death
for so many
tragic men
we will never know.
No glory here.
No glory at all.



Bio from 2020:
Vern is a retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred fifty poems on onver sixty sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven's Review, Monterey Poetry Review, and Corvus Review.

Poem: Injustice: Can You Say Her Name? (Pouvez-vous) by David L O’Nan

man in black and white shirt wearing sunglasses
photo by Maria Oswalt (unsplash)

The Spring air hit Kentucky on just another day

The bricks lay by the fields

The cities and the horses meet

To run from the prairies to the streets.

And hooded servants like that of Ankou –

Fill up with artillery and the monsters within reach into pockets

And can’t say her name

Because to them she didn’t have a name.

The fascists jockeys that ride onto fainting thoroughbreds –

To pray surrounded by a predatorial illness

To pray-in what you want your ideal to be

To not match the ideal of thee.

Who is your God? Where does your Paraclete emerge from?

The bubbles of blood you create,

The dream of the young dissipates,

You wear the skin as the badge,

The prized buck that sits bodiless on your wall.

Le reve des jeune, elle s’appelle Breonna.  Pouvez-vous?

Cowards can you say her name?

The helicopters, the earthquakes, the fireworks,

The guns pop, and you scatter

Away like the cowards,

Hiding behind.

The fury of the streets, the siren’s beat.

Asleep in your dead skipping song

When we yell, Say her Name!

When they yell, Say her Name!

The sunshine peddles away behind your ant shaped clouds

The rest of us are mice that’ll find the cowardly lion.

The roar hiding in dresser drawers.

To peek out, to hear if you’re still being talked about

Just want it to go away, watch the ink decay on newspapers.

Every now and then

Several racing moments in your dead skipping song.

Move forward,

Backtrack to forward, stagnate

Incomplete.

Was really looking forward to the chorus that we can never get to,

Because

You can’t say her name!

You can’t say her name, You can’t say her name

A policeman arrived in the every man’s cloth.

The bloodshed, and you fall to the God

You fall to the Holy spirit, you fall and have failed at freedom.

Il sangue versato e fallisci per l’umanita

Now say her name

Ora di il suo nome

Maintenant dis son nom

Ahora di su nombre

Jetzt sag ihren Namen

Breonna

In any language

Say her name

Give her justice

Wolfpack Contributor EIC Bios: David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan

Poems from Kelly Marie McDonough in Fevers of the Mind Anthologies: “Galaxy Rest” “Radium Girls”

Radium, Old Fashioned, Under Light, Moustache, 19

Galaxy Rest

1.	I slink deep, slide into the inky black sky, slipping into velvet black and thick, where no one knows my name; no one demands anything from me.

Will I ever come back?

2.	There are no needles, no pokes, no tests and endless pain.  I’m floating in a galaxy of stars, light as a cloud, swimming through the ether, just drifting in the blank, black abyss.

Do I even want to?

3.	Pin pricks of light and stars swirl around my body and I am free.  This is where I can truly rest.  My escape into the firmament keeps me sane. The night floats behind my eyes, full of shining constellations.

Is this the other side?

4.	Stars burst, flame bright, and then flicker away.  Others take their place and the cycle continues.  Yet I remain, drifting softly. 

Do I have more time? 

5.	Daylight and the nurses come, my sanctuary shatters, and I grasp at the darkness as it slips through my fingers and the unwelcoming light of the sun burns my eyes.  Daylight breaks, and my galaxy is gone.  

Was it always inside me? 

Or do I belong amongst the stars? 

Radium Girls

Tick, Tick, Tick
Make those watches, double quick!
Point your brushes with a lick.
Of course, it’s safe for use, 
Would a company like us lie? 

Tick, Tick, Tick,
Now the paint is getting thick, 
and our hands 
and our eyes are getting dry.

Tick, Tick, Tick, 
Now our jaws, they make a click.
But our dresses sparkle 
in the dance-halls every night. 

Tick, Tick, Tick
Our bones have begun to split,
Glowing ghost of girls, 
Walking dead, yet still alive.

Tick, Tick, Tick, 
Your wallets getting thick,
While the girls are getting sick
And the time flies by as we die. 



Bio from 2020:
Kelly Marie McDonough is a two-time cancer survivor, avid reader, and makeup enthusiast.  She is working on building her poetry portfolio and is influenced by Poe and Anne Sexton.  Murder, madness, and literary references are her passion. She is a writer and part-time student at Southern New Hampshire University and works customer service for a call center. She lives in Illinois with her supportive husband and their four mischievous cats. Her poetry will be published in the upcoming winter issues of The Bitchin' Kitsch and Poetically Mag.

Poem by Ann Hultberg : “I Prefer the Clouds Over the Sun” from Fevers of the Mind Anthology

Sky, Clouds, Sunlight, Atmosphere
I Prefer the Clouds Over the Sun

A reality which wants to remain buried 

Sunlight guides me toward the dirt, 
              The faded paint, the cracks in the seams of the walls as the house shifts, 
The gray carpets, now the dog’s canvas, stained to swirls of brown shadows,
The windows old and dirty –
 Panes with cracks as thin as dental floss,
Coal dust caked on furniture and in every fiber of cloth,
A film that says we are poor--
Or lazy.
The black dust inhabits. 
The clouds hide all of this
And lets me imagine that I live in a palace like all the others
Where there is space and light
Shouting “I am Proud to be here,”
And not ashamed as I am with the sun showing me what is instead of what -
could have been.
It’s easier to hide under the pretense of clouds
So all seems fine,
Without looking at truth as it cries through the windows
Forcing a reality which wants to remain buried.
I can’t see the flaws when the clouds hide the sun. 
I can go about my day looking straight ahead, 
But when the light shoots through the sheer curtains,
              My mood shifts to anger.

Bio from 2020:

Ann Hultberg of Northwest PA and Southwest Fla is a retired high school English teacher and currently an adjunct composition instructor at the local university. She writes nonfiction stories about her family, especially focusing on her father’s escape from Budapest, Hungary, to the United States. Her essays have been accepted by over a dozen magazines and journals including Persimmon Tree, Fevers of the Mind, Drunk Monkeys, Thorn Literary Magazine, Her View from Home, Moonchild , Mothers Always Write, and various publications on Medium. You can follow Ann on Facebook at 60 and writing.