Joan E. Bauer
Joan E. Bauer (she/her) is the author of three full-length poetry collections, The Almost Sound of Drowning (Main Street Rag, 2008), The Camera Artist (Turning Point, 2021) and the forthcoming Fig Season (Turning Point, 2023). For some years, she worked as a teacher and counselor. Recent work has appeared in Chiron Review, Paterson Literary Review and Slipstream. Three of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She divides her time between Venice, CA and Pittsburgh, PA where she co-hosts and curates the Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Series with Kristofer Collins.
The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Joan E. Bauer and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
That’s the sofa where my sister & I practiced
standing on our heads. There, the pages left
open to Chopin on the dusty upright piano
where my mother tried to teach us, but we were
stubborn & lazy.
On the bookcase, 36 volumes of Funk & Wagnalls
for the children & a raft of self-help books
which my mother read. 1956 was the year
my father nearly packed his grey suits,
socks & slide rule, for London & some
British woman. Rooms half-lit, Venetian blinds
closed to the neighbors & the beauty of azaleas.
Only his father’s protests convinced him to stay.
There’s the backyard where I found my mother
crying & cursing at the clothes line & the kitchen
where she stood boiling chicken & potatoes.
She was Italian, but had no love for the tomato.
Dad wasn’t home for dinner anyway, working
months at some Mojave missile site or maybe
Kwajalein. In the hallway, the canaries.
In my cluttered bedroom, small desk & chair,
dictionary, baby-blue wallpaper with little roses.
My school work in chicken scratch. I remember
how, despite her travails, my mother defended me
when my teachers complained of my failure
to engage my thumb properly while holding
a pencil & all those times they chastised me
for daydreaming & rolling my eyes.
After my father left for the last time, my mother
learned to cook Chinese. It wasn’t half-bad.
—Previously published in US 1 Worksheets
Richard Allen Taylor
Richard Allen Taylor (Myrtle Beach, SC) is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Armed and Luminous (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2016). Taylor’s poems, articles and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Comstock Review, The Pedestal, Iodine Poetry Journal, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Litmosphere, Gyroscope Review and South Carolina Review, among others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Taylor formerly served as review editor for The Main Street Rag and co-editor of Kakalak. After retiring from his 44-year business career in 2013, he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte in 2015. In 2016 he and his Kakalak co-editors received the Irene Honeycutt Legacy Award for service to the writing community.
The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Richard Allen Taylor and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
My Life as a Dancer
I’m told that fetuses have been known to jitterbug
in sonograms. I’ve seen at least one babe in diapers
doing that boogie with the butt moves that babies do
standing palms-pressed against the white wall
of the clothes dryer as it thumps a rhythm with its rotating
drum, and instinctively feel that dancer in infancy
must have been me, so let’s call that Scene 1.
Scene 2. The third-grade sock hop in the cave-like gym
launches my dance career. Soon, my friends and I divide
into wallflowers and party animals. I am, at first, too shy
or perhaps I have not yet weighed the risks and rewards
of a public display of my awkwardness, but soon I join
the parade to the dance floor, no later than
Scene 3, junior high, when hormones turn us into
sex-crazed boys and girls trying to be nice but having naughty
urges. First there is the fast dance—that unfettered freestyle
expression of joy—then the slow dance, a civilized form
of foreplay. Fast or slow, herky-jerky, or clinging together
while turning dreamily on the rotisserie of desire, we
experience intimacy without talking, essential practice
for the adult world to come.
By Scene 4, the junior prom, we all know how to dance,
though at the prom dancing is hardly the point. It’s a rite
of passage, a collage of tuxedos and gowns and corsages,
and piling into cars afterward for cokes and burgers
at the local drive-in, and making out in the back seat
of Daddy’s Chevy, but then marriage ends the need for such
juvenile rituals and couples struggle to find the cash and time
for the occasional night out with drinks and dancing.
In Scene 5, my first wife and I attend a dance party
at the neighbor’s house and just to be neighborly I dance
with our hostess, try out a fancy dance move that spins her
into a row of flowerpots. This causes some breakage
to pots and plants though the hostess herself is not seriously
damaged. But then my wife reprimands me and says,
Enough of that. Next week we sign up for dance lessons.
So we took the lessons and my dancing improved but that
didn’t save the marriage. Fast forward in time to
Scene 6. I am remarried. Julie and I have attended the company
holiday party for years, established a reputation for being the first
on the dance floor, the last to leave, but this year is different.
The boss wants to know why we’re not dancing. We plead
guilty of matching cases of plantar fasciitis. Although
the inflammation eventually subsides, dancing will never be
the same for us.
In Scene 7, Dancing with the Stars takes the place of actual
dancing. Julie can’t bear to miss it. I watch a little but quickly
lose interest, head to another room to watch football.
We never dance together again, unless you count
Scene 8, the macabre waltz we do together through three years
of acute leukemia, and the times I hold her up to keep her from
falling, and the times she holds me up with her courage.
I haven’t danced at all since she died.