February 6-12, 2023: Poetry from Joseph Milosch and Doug Holder

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Joseph Milosch

Joe Milosch’s new book of poetry is A Walk with Breast Cancer. His book Homeplate Was the Heart & Other Stories was nominated for the American Book Award and the Eric Hoffer, best Small Press Publication. His other books are The Lost Pilgrimage Poems & Landscape of a Woman and a Hummingbird.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Joseph Milosch and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Cold Truth

Again, the seagulls arrive moments before
the fishermen park their pickups in front
of the docks. Men come together, a flock
of fist bumps. Of course, Jed’s been drinking.
As he climbs from his truck, he shouts at his wife,
I don’t know why the captain fired me.
Their child is screaming. His wife’s hand
becomes a visor, hiding her eyes,
and Jed heads for the crew, his mates.
As the evening clouds darken the Pacific,
the captain’s truck flashes by, slamming
into an open space. There’s no hope
for the captain will have patience or sympathy,
nor will it play out so the mother and child
remember kindness. Look at the two men
in yellow ball caps. They stand nose to nose
above the diesel- coated waves that bang
plastic bottles and beer cans against the break wall.
No reason for Jed to plead his case
before a merciless judge, and they stand
silent without the myth of the good-pal captain
to guide them. If Jed is needed, it doesn’t matter.
If the captain feels remorse, he doesn’t show it.
Swearing, Jed returns to his pickup and leaves,
burning rubber. Behind the passenger window,
his wife stares at the sidewalk, and
their child holds a fistful of her mother’s hair.
Abruptly, the captain turns, walking
toward his men. Wearing a jacket
with a Peterbilt badge, the tall fisherman
asks Where did Jed go? The captain wipes
his dark beard and replies, I had to shit can him.
I told him to stay out of bars. He wouldn’t do it.
We’ve been lucky with this COVID thing.
The news quiets his crew, knowing as they do
the hardness of living from one day to the next.
Then, they let their collective truth escape
in a group sigh, cold as the north wind.

Seaport, Oregon/ 2021

Doug Holder

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He is currently- the co-president of the New England Poetry Club. His work has or will appear in the Home Planet News, the Worcester Review, soul-lit, The Boston Globe, Lilipoh, Lips and many others. He teaches creative writing at Endicott College in Beverly, MA. He is the author of The Essential Doug Holder (Big Table Publishing.)

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Doug Holder and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

My Father with Jack Dempsey

On my table
is a picture of my father with Jack Dempsey
outside the Brill Building in New York City. 
Dad’s narrow black tie
his jet back hair
tamed by an oil slick of Vitalis
his left hand clenched in a fist
a pugilist meeting another pugilist.
Dempsey pretends to yell something in my dad’s ear
like Ali to Cosell,  a graceful athlete
to the Jewish Ed Sullivan posture of my PR man father.
My father didn’t seem to be living in the moment
he was always not here and nowhere.
Now he is frozen in a frame.
I will never understand him.
He said he didn’t understand me.
Now we just stare at each other
desperate to connect.

* Jack Dempsey was a famous heavyweight fighter. He owned a restaurant in the Brill Building in New York City.

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