July 20-26, 2015: Amber Decker, Lisette Alonso, and Richard Widerkehr

Amber Decker, Lisette Alonso, and Richard Widerkehr

(the judges of the 2015 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest)

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Amber Decker

Bio (auto)

Amber Decker is a thirty-something poet from West Virginia. Her work has been included in the groundbreaking literary e-zine, Exquisite Corpse, as well as other hip venues for alternative writing: Zygote In My Coffee, Phantom Kangaroo, Bone Orchard, Specter, Red Fez, and Black Heart Magazine, to name just a few. She is a lover of horses, hooded sweatshirts, comic books, werewolf movies, good wine, tattoos, and rock and roll. Her latest collection of poems, The Girl Who Left You, is available from California’s notorious Six Ft. Swells Press.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Amber Decker and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

False Positive

For every abortion clinic bombed,
I am sure there are people who cheer,
men who believe they are white knights
doing what they know in their hearts
to be right, birthing storms
of fire and shrapnel
with their all-knowing, bloody hands.

In a gas station bathroom, I sat
legs splayed and trembling
on the toilet with the test in my hands
that read “Pregnant” in bold, black
digital letters, an icy river
churning in my stomach
while my friend poured us coffee,
paid for our food at the counter
and waited.

For almost two weeks, I dwelled
with the heavy possibility
that I was no longer alone,
that something else was taking shape
in the milky galaxy of my body,
feeding and growing and shifting.

Names played like a mixtape
inside my head, distracting me
from the world until I had to slam
my foot hard on the brake of my car
to let a doe and her two spotted fawns
cross the road in front of me
one night while clumsy snowflakes,
large and light as white owl feathers,
sputtered from the cave of the sky.

Again and again, I replayed the memory
of the last night we’d spent together
on the cot you’d pulled out
in front of the wood stove,
how you kept the fire fed and hot
between kisses.

I recalled the sounds
of the field mice skittering
inside the walls of your old trailer
where their tiny claws sounded
like heartbeats in the dark,
and how you asked me
if I’d ever slept with a man
who wasn’t white, your relief
when I said no.

I thought about your face,
a canvas full of naked hate,
when you said that other races
were a plague on this earth, pests
as dirty and destructive
as the mice burrowing into the walls
of your home, even the ones
still hiding in the fields surrounding us
that disappeared into the ground
and bred, "like niggers", through the winter,
how you told me in a voice as cold
and clinical as a scalpel,
that the only way to stop it
was to kill every last one of them.

At the doctor’s office, I was left to myself
in the exam room like a deflated balloon,
so many vials of urine and blood taken,
laid out under paper sheets
to be scraped and prodded.
When the doctor returned, she said
perhaps it was a bad test
or early miscarriage arriving
as spots of blood shaped like
the joined continents of Pangea
in my underwear.

And just like that, it was over,
like a violent thunderstorm
on a humid August afternoon
that tears down trees, rips shingles
from the rooftops of houses
and leaves behind a sky as blue
and seamless as an unbroken robin’s egg.

When I told these things to my mother,
all she wanted to talk about was God’s plan
and what part I might play.
But I don’t understand the idea of a God
whose hand reaches from an infinite cosmos
to maneuver me like a hapless pawn
through the story of my own life,
a good soldier, pressed forever into battles
I never asked to fight.

And I will never understand
the plans that people I’ve loved
and lain with in the night
might hatch in secret
over the broken bread of shared hatred.

All I know for certain is that I will never
have a son with wild eyes,
and I will never have the chance
to teach him the sounds
each animal makes
as it passes by his window in the dark,
how it has every right to be here now,
to live, to make a life, to be always
just exactly what it was born to be.


Lisette Alonso

Bio (auto)

Lisette Alonso is a south Florida native, she loves the warm Atlantic waters but hates the miles of paved highway she has to travel just to dip her feet in the surf. When she’s not writing poetry, she’s raising children and catching up on two decades worth of missed sleep. On a good day she can do all three with her eyes closed.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Lisette Alonso and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Lola keeps kidneys
in the fridge.
She hasn’t found
a use for them,
still it seems a shame
to toss them out.
Once she fell in love
with an oboe player
who left behind
a single pair of wingtips
the minute she decided
to sober up.
They used to play
Rock, Paper, Scissors
with their relationship:
Rock—she’d sleep
with the postman,
Paper—he’d leave
her for a ghost.
If it was Scissors
everyone lost a pinky,
but really who needs
that insignificant digit anyway.

Weather Event

Mom is obsessed with Doppler radar,
with the orange watercolor blots

that tell the future five minutes at a time.
And there are storm clusters chewing

at the horizon, but still she thinks
there’s a beach day ahead of us,

that the wind will whip the cumulous
out to open sea. But the sky is an oiled

canopy, hungry and intent on wrenching
the chicken legs right from our fingers,

the sand off the back of our thighs,
the car keys from Mom’s Chevy

along with her Phil Collin’s CDs
and the boom box she bought herself

on credit last Christmas, and we ignore
the riptide flags and the way the lifeguard

stands sway as Mom insists it’s a passing
shower while we wait for the swimsuits

to get ripped from our bodies, for our bodies
to be picked up and tossed to the asphalt,

or the furious tides, or wherever they might land,
broken to bits, or miraculously unharmed.


Richard Widerkehr

Bio (auto)

Richard Widerkehr won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. Two book-length collections of his poems were published in 2011: The Way Home (Plain View Press) and Her Story of Fire (Egress Studio Press). Tarragon Books published his novel, Sedimental Journey, about a geologist. Recent work has appeared in Rattle, Floating Bridge Review, Northwind Anthology, Poetry Super Highway, and Crack The Spine. Poems are forthcoming in Nomad’s Choir, Clay Bird Review, Soundings, Cirque, Penumbra, and Clover, A Literary Rag. He’s worked as teacher and as a case manager with the mentally ill.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Richard Widerkehrr and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

House Lights

Across the fields, small urns
of house lights flicker. Hands
on the wheel, your car in the dark,
nothing on the radio–black fields

slide by, not your father’s.
The lights ride with you
past naked stands of alders.
The night, a well, fills almost

every slat, each sway-back barn,
gone slack. The farthest lights
are his stories, sleeves of water.
You hug the wheel, squint hard.

(This poem was featured on-line at Crack The Spine.)


Having read psalms, I remember
twelve-lane boulevards, Allied Movers,
the J and D Bakery, the dark asylum
of the Trylon Theater, statues of soldiers
who died for a code almost no one
believes in anymore. “We did what we
had to,” you say, Mother. “We weren’t

afraid.” In 1942, Dad was stationed
near La Jolla. You swam in the sea, and he
saved you from an undertow, swimming you
across it. You said those were the happiest years,
not climbing smoke and ladders of your sister’s
madness, not giving your mother the money
you’d saved for college, so she could

buy furniture. “I should’ve been someone else,”
you say. During the war, you were at peace.
Father, the summer you were thirteen, you worked
in Grandpa’s mannikin store, didn’t get the gold
watch he promised. About people with money,
you used to say, “ Strip us naked, I’m as good
as any of them.” Now Linda and I take Mom

out to dinner in her wheelchair, using money
you made. You said, “Religion’s a matter
of genetics. You have it in your genes,
or you don’t.” I can’t excise the strict coda
of your visage, as you sat in the back of your
cabulance, leaving the hospital. I can’t know
if you thought how grasses keep growing,

no matter how many times they’re cut down,
how they sway, brown with pink tips, as sunlight
blows across a field. Perhaps, this story doesn’t
end with burning wind, insensate skies, the bees
in alyssum my mother points to outside
our restaurant. Father, you said Baba
used to tell you, “If you’re hungry, eat bread.”


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