July 8-14, 2019: Poetry from E. Martin Pedersen and Elizabeth Alford

E. Martin Pedersen and Elizabeth Alford

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E. Martin Pedersen

Bio (auto)

E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived for over 35 years in eastern Sicily where he teaches English at the local university. His poetry has appeared in The James Dickey Review, Ink in Thirds, Mused, Oddville, Former People, The Bitchin’ Kitsch and others. Martin is an alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Visit E. Martin on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2019, and owned by E. Martin Pedersen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Drought Has Ended

I take off my cap
to feel the beats on my scalp
marching-band snare solo

feel it follow my spine
whole face upturned
I laugh alone to the rhythm

I waited so long
forced to waste time
I went beyond
loneliness or illness
boredom or bad marriage

my moment of near joy
filled like shoes
with bitterness
lust for more suffering

drought has
ended in the land
and sky but inside
I’m still dry.


The Key Drawer

I try to label the keys
sometimes I do
but not all
I start, give up
most are lost keys
to doors I can’t remember
I have a drawer full
try not to look in there
don’t need the tension,
write a note to myself —
identify lost keys.
I could assemble everything
that has a lock
and one by one
but since I’ll die soon
let someone else test or
throw out the keys
I’ve lost the urge.



Elizabeth Alford

Bio (auto)

Elizabeth Alford (Hayward, California) likes to sneak off for a quick poem when she isn’t selling you secondhand merchandise. Recent work has appeared in short-form journals such as Failed Haiku, Human/Kind, FemkuMag, and Stardust Haiku. Recent honors include 1st Prize in the Bay Area Poets Coalition Maggi H. Meyer Memorial Contest #39 (1-5 line category), and one of her haiku was shortlisted for the 2018 Touchstone Awards.

The following work is Copyright © 2019, and owned by Elizabeth Alford and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Canis familiaris

~after “Windchime” by Tony Hoagland

She goes out to do her business
with her legs and nose to the ground.
It’s four-thirty in the morning
and she’s wandering the moonlit yard, ears
high, taking in the noises of the night:

sniff-snuffling dirt, grass,
houndlike, on the hunt, her nose
now pointing towards the stars—
and nothing escapes that nose.
She’s trying to figure out
where the squirrels hide whenever she’s nearby.

She must have been dreaming of the squirrels then,
curled up warm between the sheets,
when she heard them—their chattering
up between the branches,
arguing over
nuts or territory.

No one, including me, especially likes when she wakes
us up before dawn,
but I can see what I’ll miss when she’s gone—
the way her right ear likes to stick up sometimes
and the left one just flops over,
the cock of her head when she’s confused,
the little cold wet nose
on my foot at night.


His Final Legacy

Daddy, why do you cough so much?
I wanted to ask but never did.

He would cough the way I ….cough.
The way a person who smokes coughs.

The gasp of breath before submerging into
a pool. The rapid-fire hacks: guttural,
grating brothers to the death rattle.
Pause, repeat. Pause, repeat.
The inevitable spit.

He didn’t know I saw the tissues:
dry, brown, crumpled fluffs stuck
to themselves like plastic wrap, strewn like
rumpled clothes throughout the living room,
trash bags and tables overflowing
with reminders of his presence.

Even after he died, I didn’t know that
I would one day have my own
pile of tissues, stacked haphazardly like fall-
en dominoes, that my ….coughing echoes
would resound throughout the house like
an unpleasant song on the radio,

or that his final legacy—
the very last thing he passed to me—
would be
a pinch of tobacco.



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