Skip to main content

Jason Ryberg

Consolation Prize

There was a part of me that, all these years later, still really wanted to read her the riot act, to give her the old what for and inform her that the faded lavender bandana she gave me back then (to remember her by, I guess, or as some kind of bullshit consolation prize, maybe, for not qualifying, hell, for not even being considered a contender or even a valid, bona fide practitioner of the sport, that same bandana that had, so often, tweaked me, existentially, from time to time, over the years, whenever it would randomly resurface to remind me how much she had hooked me and how I had barely registered with her), well, it was hanging from the rear-view mirror of my buddy’s primer-gray pick-up truck and he and it were halfway to Denver by now. But what would the damn point of such a petty little gesture even be? We hadn’t spoken in close to twenty years. She wouldn’t know what I was talking about because there never had been a me and her. Just me—carrying around the fallen baby bird of a wounded ego and the whole what might have been syndrome all this time, thinking that somehow, somewhere down the line we’d run into each other again. Hell, she probably wouldn’t even remember my name.



Still-Life of Pocket Knife, Carpenter’s Pencil and Black Velvet Elvis

There was a wadded-up brown paper bag (with a few phone numbers and some directions hastily scrawled upon it), a brass candle-holder shaped like a chess piece (a king or queen, maybe, but the wax of many multi-colored candles had melted down over it, over the years, rendering it mostly gender-neutral, by now) and a set of keys that looked as if they unlocked massive doors and gates and gothic trunks and chests best left unopened, all arranged on an ancient card table (the kind you always got stuck at every goddamn Thanksgiving as far back as you can remember), a man, snoring, steadily, in a kicked-back La-Z-Boy chair in front of a Red Wings / Black Hawks game, a coffee mug of Diet Coke and bourbon, balanced precariously, on his slowly rising / slowly falling / slowly rising / slowly falling belly, (bloated with what appears to be most of an Imo’s meat lover’s pizza), a pocket-knife covered in red sauce and cheese, and the stub of a carpenter’s pencil permanently fixed behind his left ear. A black velvet Elvis wearing gold wrap-around shades watches over it all and keeps him safe.

Jason Ryberg is the author of thirteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Standing at the Intersection of Critical Mass and Event Horizon (Luchador Press, 2019). He lives part-time in Salina, KS with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

David Oliver Cranmer

Not Just Another Playlist Often, I sit in my swivel chair looking out the window, while jazz, country, or rock music plays. This pleasure goes on for many hours a mystic trance of sorts streaming—the glue maintaining my soul. I turn the best songs into playlists (once we called them mix tapes) puzzling over the perfect order. Does Satchmo’s “What a Wonderful World” kick off my latest list or make it the big soulful closer? And does “Mack the Knife” go higher in the set than “Summertime?” That’s an Ella Fitzgerald duet! “Foolishness? No, it’s not” whether you are climbing a tree to count all the leaves or tapping to beats. These are the joys that bring inner peace and balance (to a cold universe) lifting spirits skyward. David Oliver Cranmer ’s poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared in publications such as Punk Noir Magazine , The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly , Needle: A Magazine of Noir , LitReactor , Macmillan’s Criminal Element , and

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

Corey Mesler

  I think of you tonight, my Beats I think of you tonight, my Beats, and I am grateful.  I walked the narrow lanes of Academia and never felt at home. There were men and women in the flowerbeds, their heads full of theorems and poems. There were teachers who could lift their own weight in prose.  I was lonely. I was too loose.  I was a lad from the faraway country of Smarting. But I had you as so many before me. I had you and I knew secret things. I could count on you like a percussion. And now I want to say: I love you.  If not for you, what? I want to say. If Allen Ginsberg did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.  COREY MESLER has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South . He has published over 25 books of fiction and poetry. His newest novel, The Diminishment of Charlie Cain , is from Livingston Press. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On , which won The Me