Old River – Amy Johnson

Old river––carry on,
carve the ground,
glide serpent-like
through this land.

Old trees––don’t tarry,
trill your leafy tunes,
rise your heads above
us all.

Old wind––exhale now,
excite the branches,
heave the water
in patterns and rhythms.

And me––I will go,
and see the fields,
and drink in their grassy waves.


Amy is a lover of lilacs, old books, and authentic community. Her work has appeared in the Southwest Metro and Plymouth magazines, and the St. Paul Voice newspaper. She runs a blog called The Writer’s Refuge

the stillness that separates and conjoins – Benjamin Reigstad

I leave the mud on the soles of my boots and step into the stream, not hesitating or wishing for anything in particular—except, perhaps, for the feeling of water surrounding me. leaves, yellow and pale, drift on the currents around my ankles, their anchors left far behind. I try not to lose my footing on the loose pebbles. there is nothing to hold onto except my slippery breath. the quavering waters slip past me and lift me off my feet. almost. I look down and watch the water striders, their legs as thin as spiderwebs, always reaching out for something elusive, something just out of reach. they grab for my boot laces, which trail in the stream like loose thoughts, but thoughts are elusive and just out of reach. the bugs are carried downstream, yet they never stop reaching.

I can only wonder. I can only stand in these colorless waters and stare around me—at the sparrow tucked away in the thicket, at the speckled fish waiting by the banks for winter to put them to sleep, at the group of spruces leaning against a decaying oak, at the cardinal that is almost ready to burst into flame and set the forest on fire—and hold my silken breath before it escapes me and drifts away with the stream.


Ben has been dabbling in poetry for the past seven years and has work published in St. Cloud State University’s Upper Mississippi Harvest (2018, 2016, 2015), Kaleidoscope (2017, 2016, 2015), and Penn State’s The Dangling Modifier. He lives in a rural town encircled by corn and soy fields in South-Central Minnesota. As of now, he is writing a middle-grade fantasy novel.

Morning on Lake Mille Lacs – Sandra Sidman Larson

A man, his arm bent back, grips the tiller
of his boat, turns it towards open water,
ripping off the lake’s aluminum cover.
The boat picks up speed, jitters past our dock,
kicking up a wake, creating ripples
on the water like pearl necklaces strewn
about. He rounds the island, disappears.
The lake surface quiets. Other boats remain
at rest in their slips, their flags
fluttering, slightly.


Sandra lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota and is the author of a book of poetry published last year by Main Street Rag (This Distance in My Hands) and four chapbooks.  Her poetry has appeared online and in print journals throughout the USA and Britain.

Nighttime at an Old Farmhouse – Amy Johnson

It is dark and
the century-old house,
bony frame

creaking with age,
becomes dim. Its
entrance guarded

only by stoic, bristling pines.
An owl shrieks
my name through

the wind-shaken trees:
ami! ami!
I step outside to the

wind; it reddens my
skin. I hear
a distant drumbeat

of pursuing wings,
then nothing.
The rabbit screams,

and the owl flies
back to his perch,
I close my eyes.


Amy is a lover of lilacs, old books, and authentic community. Her work has appeared in the Southwest Metro and Plymouth magazines, and the St. Paul Voice newspaper. She runs a blog called The Writer’s Refuge

Late for Dinner in Grand Marais, Minnesota – Sandra Sidman Larson

Cirrus clouds cluster over the Sawtooth Mountains,
spilling orange coloring over the lake,
as the sun drops below the horizon.

From pines on the hillside, campfire smoke
rises, then vanishes. An evening
to remember. Gulls hover overhead

lamenting their laments, while happy
Golden Retrievers chase far-flung
sticks thrown across the harbor beach.

Distance dogs keep barking, helping you recall
the sounds of this moment, but even they will soon be
inaudible when you enter the Angry Trout for dinner.

You linger outside as leather-coated motorcycle riders
sputter, then speed off, letting whatever inequities
of distance settle with their disappearance.

Turning toward the lake before entering the restaurant,
you notice the upper half of a man paddling a kayak
and miniature people walking on the outer jetty,

stitching themselves into your recollections,
which may or may not hold fast in this
late summer evening that slowly sinks away.


Sandra lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota and is the author of a book of poetry published last year by Main Street Rag (This Distance in My Hands) and four chapbooks.  Her poetry has appeared online and in print journals throughout the USA and Britain.

The Echo – Amy Johnson

And then she closed the book
and wandered to the place where

the melancholic river
meets the sturdy bank.

Here she found an unrivaled
solitude––abandoned from

civilization––hearing nothing but
the water’s low moan,

mournful from centuries
of quiet, steady existence.

Deep in the riverbed,
blurry beneath the slow

current, she saw the
dull gleam of an

arrowhead. As she dug
it out, it pricked her––

the lost, once-new world,
gone like the echoing

cry of a stone struck
against a canyon wall.


About the author:

Amy is a lover of lilacs, old books, and authentic community. Her work has appeared in the Southwest Metro and Plymouth magazines, and the St. Paul Voice newspaper. She runs a blog called The Writer’s Refuge.

 

God’s Words – Mackenzie Oswell

Standing there, not understanding what lied ahead.
He knew what was coming, so this is what he said.
“Everything’s going to be alright,” he whispered into my ear,
And after what felt like an eternity, the time for those words was here.

I was sitting on the floor, tears running down my face.
It had been a couple years since he told me that phrase.
But while I was on the floor, with my tears rolling down my cheek,
I remembered the words, quiet and weak.

I felt the darkness deep inside my soul,
But I wasn’t going to give up, give up, oh no.
I got up from the ground, and I yelled with all my might,
“Satan, get out of my head!” And that’s when I saw the light.

I knew what I had to do, and I knew it would be tough,
But he gave me strength, and trust me, it was just enough.
I walk with those words always in the back of my mind,
And I say, “Thank you, God, for never leaving me behind.”

 


Mackenzie is a sophomore at Delano High School. She attends Crow River Church and was baptized in November of 2014. She loves to sing, write, act, and draw. She anticipates taking part in her school play as well. She also enjoys reading. 

Standing on a deck over the Elk River – Victoria Luing

By flourishing trees, a hidden deck
sits waiting for company.
Protruding from a minor hillside, it hangs over
the murky waters of the Elk River.
It’s strangled by Bittersweet Nightshade vines
that mysteriously have no end,
like thoughts before sleep.
The floor boards, rough and worn, creek with the simplest touch.

A wild raspberry bush,
with hundreds of tiny red beads,
burst with jaw-tightening flavor.
A young doe across the river
stands from her resting spot – stretches.
A soft noise escapes her mouth,
the release of air from a pressurized can as it relaxes.
The crepuscular rays fight their way through
the canopies as the ants push their bodies from the dirt.
Dew rises from the ground
like yeasty dough waiting for the oven.
A bald eagle swoops down,
a dead fish between its talons.

A witch-like cackle interrupts the morning air;
everything freezes: a brain after too much ice cream.
A flap of its large feathered wings
and the eagle is gone.

 


Victoria Luing’s work has appeared in one publication before this, The Chronicle, and she has assisted in the editing of poetry submissions for The Upper Mississippi Harvest Magazine. She holds a B.A. in English Creative Writing and Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University and currently lives in Albertville, Minnesota surrounded by her bookshelves and Harry Potter collectible items.

Over A “Dragon’s Milk” Bourbon Barrel Stout – Bryn Homuth

The head smolders
as the server sets it
in front of me, the frothy,
thick foam glowing
like embers, the glass imbued
with special fire retardancy,
blown in Smaug’s charred jaws.

My friend orders fat
beef sliders stuffed in a bucket.
We fasten them to the wheels
of our hunger, reach, rend, chomp,
wash down with draughts of molten cold.

We eat as if to stir dormant dragons
in ourselves, beasts in mythic flight
from mind’s unguarded horde.
These brave brew masters,
flame-tempered fingers
scalded on mother dragon teats,

like my grandfather’s muscled hands
milking cows as he sat so often
on a bucket not unlike this one,
bent under a swollen udder
as open rafters leaked light
across cracks and dried blood
fissured through his fists.

I hear the ping of each dart
he squeezed out, knuckles
against greased aluminum.
We grapple with grease-flecked patties
and spice-rubbed spit, breathe
a new human flame, struck to life
in chest’s catacombs, and I wonder
if someday a drink could be christened
in either of our names, if we, like dragon,
like my grandfather,
could be the stuff of legend.

 


Bryn Homuth has recent poems published or forthcoming in The Maine Review, The Tishman Review, and The Turnip Truck(s), among others in various print and electronic journals. His work has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology. Bryn currently lives near Minneapolis, MN and is working on his first full-length collection of poetry while teaching English courses for Crown College.

Autographs – Bryn Homuth

At night-morning, we fill a trailer:
coils of a prairie-grass blind,
buckets, guns, and decoys so real
you’d think the beaks might snap alive,
swivel, feather brush into flight.

Soybean stalks crunch post-harvest,
nubs like speed bumps
as we drive a dark field’s edge, then stop—
Here.
If they come in, they’ll land here.
Into the wind.
Southeast.

I sip coffee as others assemble
a gaggle: craned skyward,
tucked into wing,
necks dipped in a nose
for dry, buried beans.
Drop, drop, arrange, shift, drop,
placed as though by a pattern in the soil,
a confidence the first hunters would have envied
had they leisure to think
beyond instinct and hunger.

Abreast on five-gallon pails,
boot-to-boot, we wait—
sunrise of pink and orange,
mallard flocks’ wing-flap like the rush of rain
from falling to fallen,
a fate planned for the birds,
harbingers of shotgun and steel.

Geese lift from the lagoon mid-morning,
curl into black dotted lines like smoke
at a ceiling, a sketched boundary
between earth and sky.
Let’s see if we can sign on one of them
one says—a plump detaches, angles our way.
Down! Calls honk. Honk again.
Up—fire! Booming barks, spent shells
bank left—they’re gone.

I watch them until my vision blurs
from are
to might have been
to never were,
where, if there is such a place,
they touched down
to awaiting goslings
who had already heard
of the three who cheated death
and were standing in line for autographs.

 


“Bryn Homuth has recent poems published or forthcoming in The Maine Review, The Tishman Review, and The Turnip Truck(s), among others in various print and electronic journals. His work has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology. Bryn currently lives near Minneapolis, MN and is working on his first full-length collection of poetry while teaching English courses for Crown College.”